Adoption: What Would Jesus Do?

“If you hadn’t been adopted you might never have known Jesus.”

This was said too often in my Evangelical upbringing. In conversations with several other adoptees, I’ve discovered this statement was on repeat throughout their lives as well. It’s safe to say this reflects the mindset of many Christians in regards to adoption.

When I was flying back from New York after meeting my mother for the first time I received a message from a friend asking me how everything went. I was telling her about our visit and how wonderful my mother is. As I began recounting our time together I found myself engaged in an internal battle fighting to reject all the preconceived notions I had been programmed to believe. Had she decided to parent me we would’ve had a great life together. My life wouldn’t have been worse, just different. And, if I hadn’t been adopted, I never would’ve known otherwise. My friend replied with, “Yes, but did you ever think that you might not have become a Christian?”

Psalm 135:6 Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all depths.

As it turns out, my mother was and always had been a Christian. But, even if that hadn’t been the case, why would we question or put such limitations on the sovereignty of God? To me, this indicates a lack of faith, tinged with traces of arrogance. This also validates my point: adoptive parents believe they are saving us.

Are they deeply concerned for our souls or are we the embodiment of their charity?

‘White Savior’ has such a negative connotation attached to it, so I’ve hesitated to write on this subject. I’ve been hard pressed to come up with a better term, but it’s scenarios like the one I described that have laid the groundwork for this suitable title. As I’ve observed the altruism behind motivations to adopt, I have seen how my friends and family honestly believe they are saving a child from a life of despair or perhaps even death. Add to that a child’s eternal salvation and every Christian wants to jump on a train filled with passengers waving their flags of virtue. It’s the Faith Olympics and adopting a child is the Gold Medal.

Most people I know feel good about themselves when they’ve done something that makes a difference in the lives of others. We send our children on church or school trips to help the needy, or they’ll go visit orphanages where they get to hold hungry babies. We have fundraisers and/or spend thousands of dollars so we or our children will have an “experience” in an impoverished country with those less fortunate. They post pictures and write blog posts about how it changed their lives and they’ll never take a steak dinner or a pedicure for granted again. We groom our youth to become the next generation of White Saviors.

What if the Church is spending our resources on the wrong thing? Imagine the dramatic shift we could make if we ministered specifically to keep mothers and babies together, families intact, and empowered communities to support those raising their own.

I think about adoption, Christians, and The Church. I lose sleep over it. They have kept the wheels of the adoption machine in motion. They have been the fuel behind a multi-billion dollar industry built on shame, deception, and corruption. If they fully understood the reality behind most adoption, would they continue doing it?

What will adoption look like in 50 years? Because, if it looks the same as it does today then it means we’ve done something wrong. What are we fixing? The solution isn’t to continue adopting, it’s to enable capable mothers to parent their own children.




12 thoughts on “Adoption: What Would Jesus Do?

  1. All I can think of as I read narratives like this is the saying about Roads Paved with Good intent being the Path to Hell … I also cringe with the enveloping ethnocentricity cloaked in the mantle of Fundamentalist Calvinist Puritanism with its Manifest Destiny which gave excuse to exterminate the Natives, Rape the Land, Impose their Doctrine, and Take what in fact was not theirs to take. None of these stances have even a remote resemblance to Jesus/Issa … or to his sermons of love and inclusion and forgiveness….
    However, fundamentalist religions are not the only sects of Protestantism in the US, just as they are not the only forms of Christianity here. My maternal grandparents were immigrants from eastern Europe who attended mass regularly; their daughter -my mother-evidently swore off ‘the Church’, as did my father who was raised a southern Baptist by a controlling father and an indulgent mother… he too parted from the Summer Bible Teaching Camps and the twice on Sunday services with the Wednesday bible studies. My adoptive parents cam from the Calvinism of John Winthrop and his kindred companions the brothers Mather. I renounced Christians and their Christianity at age 12 for its apparent hypocrisy and brutality to vulnerable children… one which allowed courts to disregard the anguish of abused children, not to mention the identity theft done in the name of being ‘in the best interests of the child’.
    Islam encourages the bringing into a family orphans and vulnerable homeless waifs to protect and to nurture – while prohibiting taking the child’s name or inheritance from him/her. In other words, the child was protected by what the west calls a guardianship -the same system of Victorian England and of te US until the dearly 20th century.
    There are globally only 2% of the total population who are adoptees, and only 2% of that population will find a parent-child match in a DNA test, though some will find patent(s) thru cousin matches of a few who know a narrative about an aunt or other gamily member who ‘disappeared’ for a time only to return later to resume a life within the family domain; or the GI who revealed a liaison with a girl in the country he had been assigned military duty… and years later discovers the existence of a child he never knew was his.
    The question and substance of ‘adoptions’ can only change when we -the adoptees- make ourselves heard -not in anger or as victims. As children, yes, we were victims, but we are adults now and have our own voices and our stories to tell. And where there is a will, there is a way, even against 36 states in the US who have still closed adoptions and sealed documents. Some of us fought the systems and found our personal information despite the States who said we could not nor would not.
    It is a grave disservice to use skin tone to bolster an argument or to refute one. Our melanin levels have nothing to do with anything other than to produce protection against UV rays as our skin is exposed to the more intense rays of the sun nearer the equator. It is only skin deep-nothing more, nothing less.
    As Martin Luther King reminded, we must assess one another for the content of our characters, not for the colors of our skins, to which I add: and not for our religious bents or the part of the globe from which our many, many ancestors migrated, or the languages we speak or the food we eat or tonics we drink or the belief systems we think w know. but for the peace we spread, the charity we offer and the safe havens we extend to those in need of protection

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  2. We now know that babies suffer trauma when separated from their mothers. In the cases of international adoption, the infant is then placed in institutionalized care, or an orphanage. They then bond with their caregivers. Then they are, typically, sent to a western country. A place where they don’t know the language and have no genetic mirrors. So, we’ve given a child multiple traumas into endure. Then we place them with strangers. More trauma. The best case and best interest of the child would be establishing and providing in country supports. Korea especially. These ‘abandonments’ occur due to societal stigma, not poverty. These babies aren’t orphans. They have family that most likely wants to keep them but CAN’T. This needs to change and there are people actively trying to implement this change. Children need to remain with their family of origin. If this isn’t possible they should, at the very least, remain in their country of origin.

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  3. I think there does need to be change and I agree that the Christian-ese of adoption is a bit ridiculous. But, I also believe that it is not a one size fits all. I was 4 when I was adopted, and had a relationship with my birth family throughout the rest of my childhood. I can say with 100% accuracy that if I was not adopted, my life would be different, yes, but not in a good way. Seeing my other biological brother and sister getting taken away from my birth mom and seeing other birth family members struggle with drugs and alcohol completely reassure me that adoption was the right option for me. Not everyone is able to parent, and adoption is a good thing.


  4. This struck me deeply. I’m Jewish. My daughter is Christian, a Pastors wife and missionary. She was β€œ saved β€œ by not being with me. She says that β€œ Daddy G-d β€œ is all she needs.
    Excellent article.

    Liked by 1 person

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