An article in the LA Times about Christian groups launching a “massive adoption campaign” is getting buzz, and because the report features a fifty-four year-old who’s now feeling as though he is “supposed” to bring kids into his family even though he’s feeling old and gray, I tried to get away with posting this on my Older Parent Blog, but that didn’t work out. Seems discussing anything to do with the Christian Right, no matter how fair-handed or restrained, is playing with fire.
Oh, well. That’s what personal blogs are for.
My gut reaction to the story’s subhead, “Thousands of churches will urge members to find homes with ‘a mommy and a daddy’ for the nation’s 115,000 orphans”, was a bit of a stomach lurch.
Adoption was portrayed as a tool for evangelism.
Urging families to adopt? Hmmm.
Much like China’s ‘One Child Policy”, or pressuring single woman to relinquish their children to two-parent families, or denying the option of adoption on the basis of weight or height or favorite Mexican dish … whatever … , actively encouraging across-the-board adoption because, “It’s time for the church to stop debating the Bible and start doing it,” could be stepping all over the toes of families deciding what is right for them.
Over the next six months, Christian media will be saturated with stories and ads touting adoption and foster care as a scriptural imperative, an order direct from God.
Yikes! And God says: Thou shalt adopt? Oh, that makes me very uncomfortable on so many levels.
First, I suppose, would have to be the idea that adopting is benevolence personified. No one should adopt a child because it’s the right thing to do, to chalk up Brownie points, to assuage a conscience or atone for sins. Doing so is a recipe for disaster. There is only one reason to build a family through adoption and that is a loving longing to raise a child.
Good deeds can include volunteering time and effort for the good of others or sponsoring someone else’s time and effort or contributing resources, but adoption is no more a good deed than is getting pregnant. Yes, of course it’s a good thing, but it is NOT a good deed.
With Shirley Temple no longer considered the accurate representation of the typical American orphan, the idea that adopting a child is a happily-ever-after-ending-in-the-making complete with a medley of cheerful tunes and a snappy shuffle-hop-step hit the skids long ago. Any advertising campaign designed to promote mass adoption is almost guaranteed to paint that picture. It wasn’t true in the bad old days of adoption and it’s not true now. Even though, “Tens of thousands of pastors will be urged to preach about the issue, set up support groups for couples considering taking in troubled kids … “, the overwhelming message is bound to smack of love conquers all, which many will attest is simply not true.
Efforts to convince people that they should adopt … “Many of these parents had not thought about coming forward to take children from the child-welfare system,” said Sharen Ford, a supervisor with the Colorado Division of Child Welfare Services. “It was the furthest thing from their minds,” until their pastors started preaching on the topic and inviting state caseworkers to visit with photo albums full of children waiting for homes, she said” … carry more than a hint of begging, possibly even pandering, and are very worrying.
I’ve written before about how unsettling I find it when adoption and abortion are packaged together, and I worry that this new ‘adoption campaign’ may carry a big chunk of that agenda under its umbrella.
Abortion and what constitutes ‘family’ can both be as much issues of politics as of faith, and tangling adoption into those webs scares the crap out of me. It’s enough a political hot potato without fanning the flames, and in our world the topics of abortion and gay families are lighter fluid.
As anyone who reads me at all either here or on my pro blogs at Adoption.com knows, I am a big fan of adoption. I am vociferous in my support of adoptive families and feel that age, location, wealth, ethnicity, choice of ice cream topping … whatever … do not limit a family’s ability to love and raise a child not born to them.
But, and here’s my big but again, this does not in any way mean everyone should do it. Most certainly there are many who should not be allowed, and many who should not be encouraged. We’re not talking puppies, here, but a life-long commitment to children who come complete with hearts and minds and personalities, and issues and traumas and very difficult problems.
This campaign may very well bring some wonderful people to the adoption table, introduce them to the idea and hold hands while decisions are reached. It might be that many children who would not have found families will through the efforts of the churches involved.
Then again, with the death of Viktor Matthy in the news again recently as his strictly religious parents are sentenced to four years in prison, it has to be said that the designation of “devoutly Christian couple” doesn’t guarantee squat.
The conversation may be a good one, but I sincerely hope the campaign will be tempered with a great deal of caution.
For hours of interesting reading on how not everyone is cut out for adoption and why this broad attempt at a mandate may not be a good idea, check out the following categories, posts and blogs: