Christians, at least the Christians I know, really want to do the right thing. When it comes to adoption they truly believe the narrative that tells them they are giving a better life to a child in need, and they’re comfortable with the status quo. But, how do we peel back the layers so we can reveal what is happening beneath adoption’s polished surface? How do we reshape a message that so many hold so tightly? And, more importantly, how do we do this in a way that will open hearts to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, what they’ve always been told is wrong…
Proverbs 12:17 He who speaks truth tells what is right, But a false witness, deceit.
Why is The Church willing to discuss controversial topics like homosexuality, divorce, addictions, abortion, or even politics, yet, unwilling to address the very real issues surrounding adoption? Is it because they aren’t aware that problems exist within adoption? Is it because they know someone who has adopted, or is adopted? Are they worried about hurting someone’s feelings? Are they afraid if they dig deeper they might discover that their altruistic intentions were misguided? Not only do I want to understand why, but I’d also like to know how we got here.
We have all the information. We have studies that provide alarming statistics of adoptee suicide rates, mental health issues, and over representation in jail populations. We have knowledge of trauma when a mother and her child are separated, not just some of the time, but every single time an adoption occurs. We have clear evidence of corruption and trafficking, both domestically and most frequently, internationally. We have facts to support that rarely, if ever, are there true orphans (no living family members) living in orphanages. We have story after story of mothers being coerced to relinquish their children.
We have one adoptee after another telling us how difficult life has been for them (Dear Adoption). We have mothers that are wrecked after losing their children; nothing left but a shell of their former selves. We have adoptive parents throwing in the towel and returning (rehoming) the children they don’t know how, or no longer want to parent. We have angry adopted kids/teens acting out their trauma while their parents are ripping their hair out, begging God to help them manage their children. Everyone is frustrated and stressed out but darn it, these parents are committed. So, why are we still touting adoption as a “better life,” a “win-win,” or a “beautiful choice?”
Psalm 127:3 Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.
Does the Lord mistakenly put babies in one womb when, in reality, He intends them for another woman? Is this His plan? Why are we telling mothers that their children would be better off being raised by someone else? Why are we perpetuating a myth that unmarried mothers aren’t good enough to parent their own children? Why are we referring them to crisis pregnancy centers or adoption agencies? Why are we suggesting adoption at all? Why aren’t we doing everything we can to support these mothers in crisis? Why are we enticing vulnerable girls/women with adoption as an option, and when did it become acceptable to give away our family? We don’t give away family members. We just don’t. And, contrary to the pro-life argument, adoption isn’t the alternative to abortion, parenting is. (but that’s another blog post).
1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
In the last few years I have had the opportunity to get to know other mothers and hear their adoption stories. The same thread runs through many of their experiences, which is, that the news of the pregnancy was met with shame and despair by not only family but members of their church. Shame? It’s a baby, a new life. Perhaps if we alter our responses to unplanned pregnancy from the shame game to what it really is, a precious gift- a gift for your family, not someone else’s – the stigma attached will begin to fade. Pregnancy isn’t a sin. Motherhood isn’t a sin. A baby isn’t a sin.
Many churches have a Single Mothers Ministry. They have children’s clothing, formula, bottles, diapers, readily available should a single mother need it. But, why aren’t we going back prior to this? Is The Church placing stipulations on which mothers receive this help? Let’s go back to how we respond to a pregnant woman in crisis. Do we offer these items to her? Do we provide support? Do we rally around her, telling her that SHE IS ENOUGH for her baby?
James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
I have seen this wave of Christians decide that adoption is what they’re called to do. White Saviors. And, The Church gets behind them, including financial support. Do we see the conflict? Do we understand that the majority of the time a mother is considering adoption it’s simply because she’s lacking support and resources? Yet, we will rally around these families in their quest to “bring their children home.” Why are so many church members spending tens of thousands of dollars to remove a child from their family and their culture when that money could be used to BUILD SOMETHING; a safe place for them to remain together in the countries that have poverty and deep cultural stigma? Why aren’t we helping by keeping their family in tact, rather than removing their children? Why isn’t this a ministry within The Church? Why aren’t we preserving families first? How have so many people, seemingly, misinterpreted and misconstrued the meaning of this verse? What would Jesus do?
It’s so scary when our core foundation of beliefs are challenged. No one wants to step outside of safe and familiar to take a hard look at the areas where they’ve made mistakes. It was a jagged pill to swallow, at age 45, comprehending that the decision to relinquish my daughter, and my mothers decision to relinquish me, were not only avoidable, but harmful. We made the wrong decisions and we caused irrevocable damage to our children in the process. No one told us because no one knew. We simply accepted the narrative that had been passed on for generations, specifically within the church.
We must have these hard conversations. It’s uncomfortable because it forces people to look inward. Are we culpable? When I see people turn a blind eye to the atrocities that occur within adoption, I have to wonder… Who is it really about? A child in need or a couple’s desire for a child?
Photo by Anne Heffron