Christian? Adoptive Parent? You Selfish, Evil Child-Catcher, You

There’s a new book by Kathryn Joyce,  condemning Christians who adopt as ‘child catchers,’ like the villain in Chitty Chitty Bang, Bang. NPR, of course, loves it and gave the author air time.  If you have adopted, as our family has, know somebody else who has, or know anything at all about the majority of adoptive families who are also believers, you may be as astonished as i was to hear that:

…evangelicals view adoption as a new front in the culture wars.

“Evangelicals felt that they had kind of unfairly lost a claim to the good works side of Christianity, the social gospel, the helping the poor,” she tells Fresh Air‘s Dave Davies, “and so they wanted a way to get back into doing something for poor people’s rights, and adoption and orphan care came about as something that, I think, they could really invest themselves into without challenging or changing their stances on the other social issues that they care about.”

Also, did you know that at least our 3rd, 4th, or 5th motivation (isn’t that a clear indication she’s just making stuff up out of her own dark heart?) behind adoption is to evangelize.

“After the other motivations for Christians getting involved in that … I’ve kind of thought of it as maybe a third or a fourth or a fifth motivation. Somewhere in that ranking. There is absolutely a missionary or evangelizing angle. A lot of the leaders in this movement who have written some serious books talking about adoption of children as the way that Christians can best mirror the experience of their own salvation — that Christians were adopted by God and so Christians must reflect that experience by then going and adopting children. They’ve kind of promoted this as an idea of adoption theology or orphan theology. Implicit in that — key in that — is this idea that you are saving children twice: You are rescuing them physically from conditions you think they shouldn’t have to live in and also you are saving their soul.”

That might as well be said to be our motivation behind having biological children, too, since sharing your faith with your kids is essentially what ALL parents do.

I have my suspicions about this author’s claim that ‘a lot’ of leaders, have written many books recommending that Christians adopt as a missions project. When it comes to the idea that you are ‘saving’ children, I mainly have only seen this attitude mentioned in the context of dire warnings- that adoption is very much NOT about saving children, and that is the wrong attitude to have. I’ve said that myself here several times:

There is something sweetly seductive, isn’t there, about seeing oneself in the capacity of a saviour, a rescuer, a Lady Bountiful (or Sir Bountiful) who is always willing to consider the needs of the great unwashed and serve them well? It’s insidious, like the fumes of the Green Witch in Lewis’ The Silver Chair. What happens when we see ourselves as the noble saviour, out to rescue the great washed, the poor and ignorant, the underprivileged from themselves, their circumstances, and everybody around us, is that we create an unhealthy relationship where our good opinion of ourselves is dependent on the continued existence of those great unwashed, and if they don’t appreciate us as they should, well, then, they are clearly ungrateful wretches, selfish, deeply flawed, and- this may explain why some of those who have the lowest opinions of the people they are supposed to help are in the helping professions. They get tired and burned out, often because their goals are not supported by reality or shared by those they supposedly want to help it, and this burnout can carry with it some level of resentment, even disdain, towards the job. Social workers and teachers suffering burnout report being disgusted and fed up with the people they were supposed to be helping, furious at being called upon to help yet again.

I’ve also seen some adoption and foster care situations blow up in people’s faces, and generally, in those I’ve seen, one of the factors was that the parents went into it with this savior mentality- they were going to be noble and rescue somebody. Nobody likes being somebody else’s project, and seeing other human beings as your project dehumanizes them in your eyes.

And here:

Another bit of advice I would give is to pray that God will conform your hearts and minds so that you want to foster/adopt because you want more children to love, and _not_ because you see yourself as Saving The Children. In our experience, we have seen some very sad problems come up when the parents have this Savior Mentality rather than the servant’s heart God calls us to. It’s hard, because, of
course, we all want to save children, and the image of ourselves acting so nobly is rather seductive. But unless the heart of the parent changes, this will nearly always cause stress and resentment in the adoption relationship, and it’s not the child’s fault.

And also here. 

There’s a great quote from Homebound Missions there, warning against the very thing that Kathryn decries as routine in evangelical adoptions.

I like National Review’s rebuttal, especially this:

“To many on the left, if you are conservative then there is nothing you can do that is virtuous. Even the good that you do will be dismissed as cynical or destructive.  The idea that my friends and family, who love their adopted children more than they love their own lives, have “orphan fever” is disgusting. Given that much of this criticism comes from unapologetic advocates for abortion-on-demand, I’m reminded of the words of Isaiah: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.””

There is also a rebuttal here, although it is weakened by the fact that the author has never heard of Above Rubies (the Campbells) or the Pearls , yet believes everything about them the author said, in spite of the fact that said author got so much so very wrong about Bethany, the ministry where the author volunteers. (he addresses that here)

I really loved this one, which includes an interview with five leaders in the evangelical adoptive community:

It’s worth noting that no media outlet would present fringe Jewish or Muslim groups as representatives of the whole. They would rightfully be labeled as anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and simply unfair. I’m glad that’s true for Jews and Muslims. It would be nice if NPR, Mother Jones, and Kathryn Joyce would apply the same standard to evangelicals, particularly when those Evangelicals are caring for “the least of these.”

I guess I should not be surprised. It seems that Evangelical Christians must be doing something wrong if they care about the hurting. It just can’t be that they care. And, I guess those orphans matter a lot less than scoring some points against the right-wing evangelicals.

There are some good points made here as well:

As a Christian and adoptive parent, I found Joyce’s pro-abortion stance to be one of the book’s bitterest ironies. Calling the abortion debate a “culture war” and referring to abortion restriction as “a return to patriarchal sexual morality,” Joyce refuses to acknowledge abortion as a children’s issue with disastrous consequences for the weakest members of society.

This need to demonize and condemn believers no matter what is clearly driven by a far more unattractive motivation than compassion.  That’s why it’s always going to be impossible to truly ‘answer’ the naysayers, because the dissatisfaction isn’t really about whatever it is that believers are *doing* it’s about who they *are*.  The grounds for disapproval shift, like jello in a warm bowl, conveniently, effortlessly, and in a logic-free and utterly inconsistent fashion- inconstant, that is, so long as you imagine that it’s really about babies, children, mothers, or anything other than the fact that you are a believer and you are not in favor of baby-killing.  It goes something like this:

Liberal Pro-abort who imagines she is merely Pro-choice: but you prolifers aren’t taking care of mothers beyond diapers.

Pro-lifers- list numerous ways they are and do, many of which you won’t find in the yellow pages because they are deeply personal and hands on. Among the real life examples that put the lie to this false accusation is the story of our own family’s connection with a crisis pregnancy center which is still, _seventeen years_ after we adopted our girls, doing things to help their birth mother.

Naysayer: but there aren’t enough families willing to adopt the unwanted children of abortion, as proof see all the older children [who are NOT the unwanted children of abortion] languishing in foster care.

Pro-lifers: point out the facts which utterly refute this absolutely, undeniable false premise-
Firstly, there are NO adoptable babies languishing in foster care. Not one. There are thousands more parents eager to adopt babies.

Secondly, the reason *older* children languish in foster care is because:
the state deliberately keeps them there forever, often giving them severe disabilities through the process, and, naturally, there are fewer parents who are *able* to handle severe issues like reactive attachment disorder or a child who has been horribly emotionally and sexually abused while in the system. The liberal, anti-family, Pro-choice state’s actions damage children and reduce the pool of available parents.

The state drags its feet on severing custody even in severely abusive cases and returns children to abusive, drug addicted parents who don’t take care of them and abuse them again.

Furthermore, the state imposes ridiculous requirements (both for foster care and adoption) about how many children can share a bedroom, how many square feet per child you must have in the home, and what race the parents can be, further reducing the pool of parents who can adopt those severely troubled children.

Pro-abort who imagines she is really only Pro-choice: Aha, see, that contradicts your premise that every child is a wanted child and supports the theory I already developed (in spite of all the evidence to the contrary) that pro-lifers won’t help mothers. See, just as soon as a mother struggles a little bit the pro-lifers are in a rush to take her children away.

And around and round we go.

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  1. Posted May 6, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been watching the buzz around Ms. Joyce’s book, and I think it’s very sad. I do not have any adopted children, but many people in my church do. I think the controversy will have a “chilling” effect on adoption in general and especially foreign adoption. And the orphans who need parents lose the most in that case.

  2. Kimberly
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    This was very well said. I have read excerpts of her book, and felt she made some good points regarding the child trafficking problems that I’ve heard adopting friends talk about as well, but she really lumped everyone together negatively. As an adoptee that was adopted by emotionally abusive adoptive parents I tend to be very concerned about adoption in general, because I know without the right heart, it can go very wrong. But, I also know many friend who have adopted and had wonderful outcomes. Your posts about the topic were very well written.

  3. Adopted Person
    Posted November 20, 2016 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    I will never understand why Christians think taking something else away from the poor HELPS them. If these sinful, misguided people really wanted to help they would give money and other forms of support for women and families to KEEP their children like they want to. Adoption also breaks two commandments. Thous shalt not steal and thou shalt not bear false witness. All infertile people who call themselves someone’s mother or father are breaking the latter commandment. All of us only have one mother and father and no one one else on earth has a right to this tittle but them. Forced adoption and social workers who coerce single mothers to give away their newborns along with want to be adoptive “parents” are stealing a child. Stealing is stealing no matter what it is that is taken. Adoption is a horrible corrupt and evil system that needs to be illegal. It is not good for kids to be adopted and it is not good for the welfare of childless people’s souls, as I am sure there is a special place in hell for all involved in this UN-Christian system.

    • Headmistress
      Posted November 20, 2016 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      I am so sorry, because it sounds like you have been through some horrible experiences. I totally agree there is a lot of corruption, many abuses, many problems, and many selfish people in the adoption equation. A major over-haul and a good deal of reform is needed, and some of the reform cannot be legal, it has to begin in people’s hearts and minds.

      But are you so sure all parents really want to keep their children? What would you suggest as a solution for those parents who absolutely do *not* want to keep parenting their kids but place them for adoption by choice? They do exist. What would you suggest for those children who are totally abandoned by their parents? They really do exist.

      • Martina O'Leary
        Posted September 29, 2017 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

        It’s not rocket science, is it? Leave their identity alone. Don’t tell lies to other people’s children. And don’t use a child’s pain as a way of furthering your status and image.

        The whole premise of adoption is based on fantasy and delusion, and it’s an absolute disgrace that innocent children are taught to self-deceive for the sake of a home. I’d have preferred to have been raised in care after my experience, and so would many adoptees, if you’d like to check the adoption forums.

        I’m pro-truth, and, as such, I am, obviously, anti-adoption, because adoption is pro-lies, and the recipient of those lies (the adopted child) has no way of authentically understanding that they’ve been played for a fool & conned until they are much older.

        It took me until the age of 36 to find my Mum and it has taken me 6 years (still counting) in order to come to terms with what has happened.

        Stop with the lies. Stop with the removal of identity. And what would you be left with? you’d be left with people who actually cared about children and not people who simply want to use them for their own gain.

        Do you even understand the damage of lies? And do you understand what the word natural means? It means real. It means not made or caused by mankind. It means authenticity. And it means purity.

        No person who authentically loved a child would lie to them. They simply wouldn’t. Not ever. And I say that as a mother.

        I kicked my lying bastard ‘slave owners’ out of my life at the age of 36. I didn’t understand that they were brainwashing me as a child. But they were. And misleading children with lies is the true definition of brainwashing because the child has no line between fantasy and reality.

        I thought that I’d been born depressed. I don’t recall ever feeling safe or secure, in my childhood (quite the opposite in fact). I became an alcoholic for 15 years. And I thank alcohol for saving my life (oddly enough) in many ways.

        It numbed me from my numbness of feeling dead inside. It stopped my body trembling from the sheer horror of having no self or self-respect. And it also allowed me to be in a drunken coma, whilst strangers made up my life.

        My adoptive families conclusion? That I was a bad person who drank because I was bad. Bad, bad, bad. They saw me as a bad seed and my life was a living hell of torment for 36 years.

        I was simply mirroring back to them the misery that they’d made me feel by destroying my psychological integrity and my soul. A soul that came back to life after I found my real and only Mum.

        My alcoholism ended when the adoption ended. And isn’t that an interesting observation.

        The suicide rate amongst adopted persons is 4 times higher than that of non-adopted persons and people like you, would like that to continue, obviously.

        That isn’t a flawed adoption system. That’s a broken one. And one child dying should be enough!!!

        Adoption is child abuse. And only people in touch with their humanity would know the difference.

        If you can’t tell the truth? Stay away from children. Particularly other people’s.

        And to all the lying bastard adoptive parents. Take your delusion and shove it where the sun don’t shine, because if I ever see an adoptive parent lying to another person’s child in front of me? I’ll call them on their abuse! Make no mistake!!

        Martina O’Leary (My authentic name(!)
        Human Rights Activist
        Anti-Adoption Advocate

        • Headmistress
          Posted September 29, 2017 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

          I am sorry for your pain, and I am glad you have found healing and left what was apparently an intolerable situation.

          I am not really sure what to to say to the rest of your post, because I have never lied to my children, so I don’t know what you mean there. And our circumstances are not yours- my kids have always been able to have contact with their first mom, although she isn’t remotely interested in having any contact with one of them, because that child is extremely disabled and at 30 still cannot talk and isn’t potty trained. We haven’t messed with her identity, told her lies, or done anything except love and take care of her. She’s in our home rather than an institution, and she’s better off with us than with a mother who didn’t and doesn’t want her. Some parents are like that.

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