“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.