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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

No Cure for Orphan Fever (or "Offense Taken")

 Just when you think you've convinced your last fan that you are not a "saint"  a "good person" or "amazing" because you grow your family through international adoption,  it's time to turn the tables and start convincing the world that you are not a "trafficker", a person with "orphan fever" or a "child collector". . .

I think I prefer deflecting undue praise!

A recent article by David French (http://www.christianpost.com/news/left-launches-attack-on-evangelical-adoption-94832/) outlines a new wave of criticism coming from the "naysayers"
and heading straight for YOU,  evangelical Christian and adoptive parent!

What, you might ask, bears defending in the world of adopting children?

Apparently, everything.

In her new book, "The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking and the New Gospel of Adoption", Kathryn Joyce parades, for your reading enjoyment, the worst-case-scenarios in international adoption and makes them seem the rule, rather than the exception. Trafficking. Young mothers having babies stolen from them. Greedy, imperialist Christians buying babies from "brokers" in the name of proselytizing.  An unwillingness to look deeply into their own adoptions for fear of finding . . .dun dun dun . . . THE TRUTH.   Men like Russell Moore and Dan Cruver being held accountable for infecting thousands with "orphan fever".

You can read an article on this very subject by Kathryn Joyce HERE

In all fairness to Ms. Joyce and others who have jumped on the Christ-Followers-Who-Adopt-Children-Are-Worse-Than-A-Case-of-The-Shingles mentality, I have only read large excerpts from her book as my hardcover copy is on it's way.  But the article referenced above does a plenty-good job of giving you a taste of the book. 

And I had to think long and hard about spending money on such negative press but also felt it important investigate fully why giving my sons a name, a heritage and a place to call "home" was such an offensive act.

"Mother Jones" did an excellent job of cluing me in to the foibles that result from my burning case of "orphan fever" on her blog at: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/04/christian-evangelical-adoption-liberia

If that blog post isn't enough to convince you that our very motives are under attack, just do a google search using words like "evangelicals, orphan fever, trafficking in christian adoptions"
and then sit back and enjoy the firestorm.

But, Church, listen up!

Some of the criticism is DESERVED and LEGITIMATE. We need to own it.
There are many documented cases of children being taken from poor women by coercion and sold to American parents. Believers and Non.    This was not something the adoptive parents were told and often these facts came to light after the adoptee executes her own search as a teen or adult.
Anyone remember Guatemala?

Adoption "professionals" abroad have given voice-scrambled expose interviews admitting to some pretty unethical, horrific practices to meet the demand for . . . . wait for it . . . healthy BABIES.
Young, tiny, helpless (most often female) infants.

The law of supply and demand, baybee . .  . plain and simple.

So how can you be sure that your child is a "true orphan"?  I addressed this very issue quite thoroughly (in my humble opinion - ha ha) in an older blog post that can be seen  HERE

 But just in case your "clicky finger" is on the fritz, let me recap:

The best chance of being SURE the child you are adopting is a true orphan comes when you:
1. Adopt from a Hague Convention Country
2. Adopt an older child
3. Adopt a child with special needs (and I don't mean "attached earlobes", folks . . REAL special needs)
4. Repeat steps 1-3

I realize this can and will ruffle some feathers, even among my Evangelical sisters.  Many of you literally do "rescue" children from places where neglect and starvation dominate the lives of these kids and a short life span is due, almost entirely, to the sins of the government and caregivers.  I think those adoptions fall squarely under point #3 above.  Even in a Non-Hague country.

But let's face it, friends.  Even if we are as careful as possible and only adopt from Hague countries and only special needs children and no newborn babies, we will still face criticism.


Because The Word has told us so.

John 16:33

English Standard Version (ESV)
33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”


John 15     18“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.19“If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you."

So I join with throngs of other Christ-followers and do that to which I am called: 
caring for orphans, claiming the fatherless, opening our home and sharing what we have with those who have no home, calling my boys "sons" and knowing, in my deepest parts  that it is not the path to salvation for me or them.  It's an honor and a privilege for me.  It's a new family tree for them.
It's the only thing to do when you know . . . the only thing. 



  1. Girl!...as always I LOVE your strong voice! I didn't even know this backlash was occuring, so thanks for the heads up.

  2. It seems that Kathryn Joyce has a personal score to settle with believers. Her previous book, "Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement," was published in 2009. I wonder what axe she has to grind?

  3. I can feel the wave rising.... I have had 2 voices of critisism in the last 2 months offer up their unwanted and unsolicited opinion of adoption...especially international. Nowever, I do not think it would be on satan's radar if good things weren't happening in the adoption arena!

  4. I agree with most of what you said with the exception of these two things: 1) Pointing to a specific country (Guatemala) as the example of corruption is hurtful to adoptive families with Guatemalan children who were ethically adopted. It causes people to automatically assume that my family member who is Guatemalan was trafficked or kidnapped, which was not the case. Many Guatemalan adoptees (well, their families, mostly) have located biological families and found that their adoptions were legitimate. I completely agree that "a little bit" of corruption is not acceptable and that the program needed halted and reorganized; it just stings to see the adoption community to point at a beautiful country and only see the evil deeds done by a few. 2) The Hague convention is INTENDED to do good things. But, assuming that a Hague country will safeguard children and that non-Hague countries will automatically lead to corruption may mean potential adoptive parents aren't researching ethics/agencies in Hague countries as closely and may mean that children who are honestly wasting away in non-Hague orphanages will continue to do so. It's hard to tell tone via the internet, but please don't read this as argumentative...this is such a complex area, I just wanted to note a couple of things that stood out to me.

    1. I understand your points, Speechless. I had no intention to hurt anyone's feelings by calling a country by name. I do concur that many Guatemalan adoptions were done properly. I did, however, watch a series of I interviews with young, poor, weeping mothers insisting they were tricked into surrendering their babies. Shortly thereafter, the country closed to US adopters. I realize this could have taken place anywhere but the raw grief in that documentary changed my heart forever.
      Thank you for reading and for commenting. I always appreciate a gentle correction and an alternate viewpoint. God bless!

  5. What, then, does this author suggest we do as Christians? We can't win. If we sit back and do nothing, then children that NEED to be adopted languish. Then, she will write a book that will say that we do nothing when something needs to be done. Your scripture on how the world will hate us is spot on. As Matt K. stated, Kathryn J. has an axe to grind. And your guidelines on how to decrease the odds of adopting a child that WILL NOT feed the wheel of corruption is wonderful. Adopting healthy infants (especially girls) is a business and not a ministry. Simply put: Adopt those needing adoption and, usually, these are the ones who are last to be picked onto the team. Adopt the ones who need you....not the ones who fill your needs.

  6. Love the guidelines. I think you could substitute almost any country for Guatemala. At some point, there's been corruption from all the countries our kids come from. There was a baby selling scandal going on when we were in India. The program for the involved orphanage was shut down though instead of the whole country. That might be in part because India is a Hague country. I guess various workers asking us if we were sure we wanted to adopt the ones we did over the course of several months before they made the match was our special needs clue. LOL! I don't think kids that were less "special" would have rounded out our family quite the same.

  7. I love reading your blog in regards to adoption, its real inspiring and touching our day to day lives.
    Adoption situation