Practicing Christians are more than twice as likely to adopt than the general population.
However, that number is still sadly small.
As some of the most privileged people in the world, it’s no surprise that Americans are leading adoption efforts internationally. But when this is put into statistical perspective, this disproportion becomes far more striking: Since American adoptions comprise nearly half of all adoptions worldwide, this means the global weight of adoption efforts rests on the shoulders of the 2% of American adoptive parents.
That said…. I’m feeling a little grumpy about a lot of things. It’s good that more Christians are adopting but that number is still sadly low (5% compared to 2%). And the figures about the number of people who are willing to consider it just irk me. I’m willing to consider lots of things. It’s so much easier than actually doing them, and I still get credit just for telling people I’m thinking about it.
I know, I know. I am stepping on toes, and people mean well, and they even believe themselves to be totally sincere and several of them really will adopt ‘some day.’
It’s just that I get a little weary now when somebody tells me they are ‘open’ to adoption but I know they haven’t actually done anything that would enable them to adopt- not so much when it’s an idealistic couple in their early twenties, but as we get into adults in the 30s, 40s and even 50s who tell people they are ‘willing’ to adopt but haven’t made the smallest step towards adoption… Well, let’s just say I am jaded.
They have been telling people for twenty years they are open to adoption, but strangely, haven’t ever contacted an agency. They have no homestudy and no idea that one would be necessary before they could adopt. They haven’t read a book about it or filled out a single sheet of paper that would put them on the road toward being available should an adoptive opportunity come up. They have no idea how much it would cost and they have made no plans to set aside any funding for it. They have no actual concrete plans of any sort (let alone concrete actions), just a nice idea that makes them feel warm inside and gets them approval from others when they verbalize that idea. I’m not even accusing them of consciously seeking approval from others. Humans are humans, and when we say something and it brings frowns and subtle hints of social disapproval, we are less likely to say it again, and when we say something that results in smiles and subtle signs of social approval, we are predisposed to approve of ourselves as well and much more likely to say it again.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and the thing about that is, when you are deceived, of course you do not know that. That’s kind of what it means to be deceived.
But you know what? I get jaded about other things, too. WHY the emphasis on adoption? Don’t misunderstand. I love adoption. Our family has been blessed by two children who came to us this beautiful way, and we have no regrets, although that is not to say it is still always easy, even today. That’s not because adoption is hard any more, it’s because having a child with all of the Cherub’s disabilities combined with her innate stubborn-ness is always a challenge, regardless of how she joined the family. But that’s another story.
While we reward people with our social approval when they talk about about how some day they think they might want to adopt (while actually doing nothing about it), meanwhile, there are children and their parents who need other help that a family not in a position to adopt could give.
Read this story and think hard about it. There is a lot to consider here. One of them is the very real scenario where Americans seeking to adopt internationally actually end up creating poverty orphans, black market babies, a flood of ‘abandoned’ children who were being loved and parented by their own families, albeit, poor families.
Read more here (the familyhopelove website at the time of this writing has been hacked, hence the link to an archived page). Here’s an excerpt:
No family starts the process of adoption wanting to take a child from another family. We all want to give a family and a home to a child who would otherwise grow up in an orphanage or on the streets. But in Uganda, there are not adequate laws, systems and resources in place to protect vulnerable families and children from trafficking for international adoption.
At the same time, I am hopeful. There are a growing number of highly qualified lawyers, consultants and experts working together to reform orphan care and adoption in Uganda. As adoptive parents – and for those of us who consider ourselves Christians, as the people of God – we need to support this work. We need to open our eyes and take steps to “bring justice to the fatherless,” (Isaiah 1:17, ESV).
I am just a mom. I am not an expert in international adoption. But over the last year, I have learned a lot about the orphans and adoption, much of it the hard way. What have I learned?
There are 2.7 million orphans in Uganda. Approximately 1.3 million of these children have been orphaned by AIDS. Most of these children, however, live with their families. Most have one surviving parent and many of the rest live with their extended family. Millions of people have been affected by HIV and AIDS in Uganda, however as we think about this issue, we need to see the strength and the resilience of the Ugandan family and community system in caring for vulnerable children.
Though statistics are hard to come by – there is little research done into this issue – approximately 80,000 children in Uganda live in orphanages or “children’s villages”. Most of these children have families and are living in the orphanages because of poverty. This is because orphanages create orphans. When well-meaning (often Christian) groups build and support nice orphanages, families struggling with the cost of food, education and health care abandon their children. But orphanages are not good for kids. God designed kids to grow up with families. African families and American families. I think we often look at African families and perceive poverty where it doesn’t exist. We cannot imagine living like most Africans, so we try to rescue kids from poverty by buildling orphanages where the kids will live more like Americans. We then call these kids – who have been separated from their families by poverty – orphans.Building orphanages is not a good response to poverty. Furthermore, orphanages have financial incentives to keep children separated from their families. Orphanges depend on income from sponsorship, donations, and sometimes international adoption.
This needs to change. We need to take steps to support vulnerable families so that children are not placed in orphanages – or for adoption – as a result of poverty. We also need to take steps to help get children out of institutional care by reuniting them with their families or giving them new families through adoption.
Here’s another story, where a family adopted an ‘orphan’ whose mother was dead. Only when they brought the child home, as her English improved, the story she told and the story the agency had didn’t quite add up. Her American mother hired a private investigator who found her living birth mother in 24 hours. The mother, so far as they can tell, is the one who lied to officials in the first place because she believed her daughter would be better off in America. But…. the reason so many of the ‘poverty orphans’ would be financially and medically better off in the USA is because Americans want their children more than they want to help make it possible for those parents and families to keep their children:
Finding my daughter’s family was like lifting a huge weight off my shoulders and off my daughter’s shoulders. I didn’t realize how much she had been worrying that she’d been lied to, that maybe her mother really had died and no one had told her. I had many questions answered by the searcher and more answered when I later traveled to meet my daughter’s family. From everything I’ve learned, I do not believe the agency I used was involved in falsifying my daughter’s story. I don’t even think her first orphanage was involved. I believe it came from her family, lying to relinquish her, and the local officials who took the story.While I don’t blame my agency for the actual falsification of my daughter’s paperwork, I do blame them for not investigating. They knew my daughter “didn’t seem to be aware that her mom was dead” and they did nothing about it. It’s not like the investigation would have been difficult since, with the paperwork I was given, it only took one day to find my daughter’s family.My daughter’s story falls into what would be classified as benign corruption. Still, it is corruption. Without searching, my daughter would have completely lost her true story. There is nothing that makes that okay for a child that has already lost everything else.
So what can you do, really, if you want to help and you want to put some actual action into that desire?
Educate yourself on modern slavery
Contribute somwhere like Fount of Mercy- or The Apparent Project in Haiti. there are a lot of agencies otu there working to make it possible for first parents to stay parents and support their families.
Volunteer at the local Crisis Pregnancy Center- maybe there will be something you can do there to help a young woman support herself and keep her baby.
Or maybe you can still help with adoption- contribute to an reputable agency, help out with a fund-raiser, if you know somebody who is or has adopted, offer some support – from baby sitting to gas cards to bowls of soup or salad to extra clothes, groceries, toothbrushes- anything. Get to know them to see what their unique needs are. Ask around- maybe a friend of a friend could use some help.
There are just a few ideas- I am sure there are other things others will think of. Just do something more than telling people that you have often thought about adopting.
Updated to add this link to a a wonderful story of a childrens’ home who found the mother of one of their ‘orphans’ and successfully helped reunite them.
And in case you missed it in the comments, I am not saying everybody should adopt. I’m saying we all should be doing something, but what those things are will vary, and I’m saying it’s not that impressive to me that people spend 20 or 30 years telling people how they ‘thought’ about adoption.