A Greater Conversation About Adoption and Orphan Care

Image credit: Bella Naija

Image credit: Bella Naija

If you are involved at all in the adoption world you are talking about this right now. Everywhere I go I have conversations about adoption, specifically International Adoption, and orphan care. There is a growing movement of people (I am one) that want to see a shift from the ‘business’ of orphanages and ‘desired’ children for adoption model to a more healthy families first model. There are so many great reformative questions to ask and consider. Can we grow greater indigenous foster care systems instead of creating more orphanages? Can children who need aid in poor countries remain in families while they receive it? How do we break the unjust cycle of of those who are gathering ‘desirable’ children for adoption internationally? How do we grow a greater understanding about who truly is an orphan?

All this conversation is not to say that we should not care for the poor and vulnerable, but rather to give consideration to HOW we are doing that, and if what we are doing needs to be revamped or changed to benefit those we THINK we are benefitting. My hope is from this movement there will be viable change that brings new hope for those that most need it.

Too many wonderful articulate voices are contributing to this conversation and I wanted to give you the opportunity to read and engage in this important thoughtful conversation.

Here are some of those writers and thinkers:

 

Kristen Howerton’s piece about how the orphan care movement may be enabling child abandonment:

I will say it again: a child should not have to be abandoned at an orphanage to receive aid. If we can feed and educate a child in an orphanage, we can feed and educate a child living at home.

 

Tara Livesay wrote about the ongoing discussion about adoption ethics:

Adoption can be redemptive and wonderful, but it won’t solve the issues of “orphans” or vulnerable and institutionalized children. That is a fact. One reason to support first families remaining together (and make sure relinquishments are ethical every.time.) comes along with recognizing that adoption doesn’t scratch the surface of the overall problem. It leaves too many behind.

 

Jen Hatmaker wrote a two-part piece about adoption ethics, here is some of the first:

I’ve heard of too many devastated birth parents, shocked and confused their children were adopted to another family. Basic investigations have uncovered entire communities picked through for their children, like door-to-door salesmen. I’m not hearing enough about prioritizing birth families and empowering them to raise their own children, not even from well-meaning adoptive parents. Isn’t that what we want? Shouldn’t intact families be our highest goal? Shouldn’t we want for birth families exactly what we want for our own, if it is possible?

 

This was a powerful guest post by Kelsey on Jamie the Very Worst Missionary:

All over the world we are confusing poverty for families not loving their children- In Haiti, in Cambodia, in Kenya, in Brazil, in Honduras. I’ve spoken to folks working on the ground in all of these countries and the common experience is that not enough is being done to help poor families keep their children.

 

Seth Haines wrote this piece about employing faulty theology to defend unethical adoption in the church:

I know a whole host of good parents who have engaged in the practice of international adoption. Some of them have asked hard questions to ensure that their adoptions are as ethical as can be. Others have wrestled with the questions after-the-fact, have made no excuses or theological rationalizations but have rested in God’s grace. That being said, and in light of the recent attacks on the evangelical orphan movement, I’ve been noticing an uptick in the sovereignty argument—God sovereignly ordained that I adopt my child from insert-the-name-of-foreign-country, and so I need not ask any other questions; I trust in God regardless of the supposed inequities to my fellow man.

 

And the painful persisting question of how to break the cycle asked by the great Dr. Jane Aronson of WWO:

I leave exhausted and feeling a bit helpless. I detach myself as I must and then I see that young woman and her baby on the street close to the door. No one has figured out how to keep babies from coming back repeatedly to “feeding centers” or hospitals in developing countries. Kids repeatedly get dehydrated and are chronically malnourished. Mothers are without education and jobs and somehow the cycle continues.

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