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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2 Comments

  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.

2 Trackbacks

  1. [...] have been thinking a lot lately about the recent controversy over “missionary adoption” and the idea that adoptive parents must have the “right motives” before they adopt. [...]

  2. [...] years ago, my future plans included traveling the world adopting orphaned street kids. (My intentions probably weren’t as noble as they sound.) I never expected to be married or even remotely settled. How thankful one can be to find oneself [...]

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