Archive for May, 2012

Arguments for the Adoption Option

Many may wonder why there has to be arguments at all with adoption. Before our entry into the world of adoption, I only walked around the edge of the topic, but I had known quite a bit about trafficking and community development, which intersects with it. Once we began to engage the topic of adoption, first through foster/adopt (due to my job in foster care as well as Adam’s family’s experience in foster care) and then international adoption (mainly through what felt like a specific call from God on both of our hearts that started long ago), we started engaging some new topics.

Most anyone who has chosen to adopt (through any means) knows that for some reason, adoption opens the doors to all sorts of questions that biological family building does not. Motives for adoption, where one adopts from, etc are often topics. Verifying that adoption is ethical is also, of course a big topic as well, as it should be.

So, I’d love to address some topics that we’ve been asked, and honestly some things, we’ve had to struggle through:

Question 1 – Why international adoption, aren’t there kids who need families right here?

More than 250,000 children enter foster care each year and there are currently 100,000-150,000 kids in need of adoption through foster care.

There are 149 Million -163 Million estimated orphans worldwide.

Sounds like crazy needs in both places, so I figure, if someone has the heart and means to adopt internationally, then there is certainly the need and if someone has the heart and means to adopt domestically, then awesome. Both types of adoption have different issues and some of the same issues. Private adoption and international adoption costs an insane amount of money, while foster-adopt is supposed to be free, come with a stipend (sometimes after adoption), with healthcare, and with college funding. International adoption addresses global poverty issues and taps into the millions of orphans affected worldwide and private adoption offers an alternative to abortion, often before children would enter the foster system. My view? YAY for it all. Praise GOD for it all. I’m so so glad that God calls His people into all of these categories to be part of restoring the lives of these children. I am humbled by those I see who have done it well, in all camps.

Question 2 – What about the stories of unethical adoptions and child trafficking in international adoption?

Well, honestly, some of the stories are true. There are unethical adoptions – a lot to make money and some done by people cutting corners in third world countries because birth/death documents are hard to come by. There is child trafficking in adoption – for nasty purposes – sex trafficking and organ harvesting. (Yep – there is a short supply of child organs so there are cases of rich Westerners and Asians finding their own ways of getting organs for their dying children). Make you want to wash your hands clean of all international adoption? It is an easy solution, but a short-sighted one.

First, think twice: Child trafficking (for all sorts of purposes) is the 3rd largest (and moving up the scale fast) criminal enterprise in the world. Do we really think that if we close adoption, that it will help? THE OPPOSITE is true. Now, children aren’t finding homes and staying in institutions. Now, there isn’t as much room in orphanages for the endless supply of children without homes in these vulnerable situations. Now, street children (and street babies, because they exist in many countries) can be plucked off the street. The traffickers thank those who have closed adoption in the country.

Second, take a deeper look: So, who has closed adoption in most countries? What articles have you read that are anti-international adoption or heightening the scare of trafficking in adoption? Many of the authors come from a similar line of a camp of anti-adoption agencies – of which Unicef, I’m sad to say, steers much of. I’m not sure where Unicef got off the track and I’m sure they are still doing great work in many ways, but Unicef is responsible for a high percentage of countries that have closed adoption. They are openly anti-international-adoption. They talk a great game of wanting to keep children in their own country and community development (which I am all for and will address later), but it appears that they are better at counting how many orphans there are in the world then they are at giving the children alternatives to living their lives on streets or institutions.

Third, another sad truth: Abortion clinics are not just making there way across America, but around the world and the results are sick. In China, due to the rules of family planning, many women have abortions just before they give birth: , but don’t worry (I’m being disgustingly sarcastic), those dead fetuses aren’t going to waste:  . Since adoption isn’t in place or has been closed in many countries in Africa, Planned Parenthood has a business proposal for Africa: . Even for those who aren’t Christian, I fear the argument that this is what the women might want isn’t strong because Africa is primarily Christian or Muslim and neither are for abortion, so giving a women abortion as her only option to continue to work and support her family for fear she can’t take care of a child, isn’t seeing her for who she or her culture is.

Some solutions to all sorts of problems above:

1 – Sponsorship and Community Development

James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” I must confess that my husband and I have asked ourselves the hard question in the middle of this adoption process “Have we forgotten half of this verse?” What I mean by that is: Are we taking the orphan and leaving the widow? It was a stomach-sickening thought that somehow we could wonderfully adopt a child that we love, but leave a woman who is a widow and barely able to survive. (To be classified as a legal orphan a child has to have one or more deceased parent and if there is a living parent they have to be unable to care for the child – usually due to extreme poverty or illness). It was something that almost led us to stop the process of adoption. However, I was reminded that there are basically 2 responses to these issue and they both must happen. The first is a response to the immediate global orphan crisis – that is short term, but needed (thus we are continuing our adoption process). The other is the long term response of community development (which I could never be more of an advocate for). If Unicef’s true goal is community development, while I don’t agree that they ought to cut off adoption before any community or country is ready to deal with their orphan problem, I agree with community development as the ultimate goal. Ultimately, communities can be built up strong to care for the orphans within their own extended families and communities. I love World Vision, Compassion International, and World Relief for this.

2 – Remember Your Adoption

What? You weren’t adoption? If you are a follower of Christ, you are. He came to our sick orphanage, where we were in bars and hopeless. He gave up Himself that He could adopt us and make us his own. “Adoption is a visible gospel. It’s really a re-telling of what our story is of coming into God’s family” (Steven Curtis Chapman)

3 – Don’t Give up on Agencies that have been doing it well

While an agency cannot control everything within a foreign country, many agencies have been doing great jobs for a long time and many are going to great lengths to improve. Some agencies I have been impressed with over and over again with the personal reviews of others, their history, and personal contact etc, are: AWAA, Holt, AGCI for traditional adoption and Kidsave for hosting/advocating/adopting older children.

4 – Do not forget what the fight is

In trafficking – the fight is against the demand and against those supplying. We can fight those. Trying to take away the supply is a losing battle, but prosecuting both the demand and the traffickers puts fear where is should be. We can support those efforts. In poverty, we can fight that too!

5 – See it for yourself:

Go! Go to orphanages (both the good and the bad). Go to Africa or to Asia or to South America where the idea of finding birth certificates and death certificates in the middle of a slum or a famine is an absolute joke. Look at that little one and just say, “sorry, no papers, you don’t get a family” or instead, feel how totally hard the whole situation is. There is both the good desire to double check ethics and a reality of logistics that instantly takes millions of children off the list for available adoption. The dilemna of much of international adoption is just this – it is confusing because it was NEVER meant to be. God never intended for their to be orphans or broken families or famines or corrupt people. So, we just aren’t totally sure how best to solve it. It doesn’t mean we walk away. It means we walk to it.

6 – Stop casting stones and be part of changing what you don’t like instead

I am obviously grateful for regulations like Hague in adoption, but if I am honest, I think so many regulations actually confine so many children to lives in institutions instead of lives in loving homes. However, if I am honest, I don’t have a better solution, so I can’t go too far in griping about it. In the end, I am grateful that something exists that allows some adoptions to proceed. I can, however, be a huge part of the fight against trafficking, like I mentioned above and part of rebuilding communities.

7 – Praise God for His creative Restoration

Even in light of closed adoptive countries, there are many organizations and people doing incredible things to restore the lives of orphans. Organizations I know personally like ERM  in Rwanda and Bring Love In  in Ethiopia bring orphans and widows together. Widows usually have homes and orphans need a home. They train the two to live and love on one another. Awesome. There are other organizations many places like Kampala Children’s Center (of which their AMAZING choir was staying at our home a week ago to be back in a month):  actually adopt the children to raise them up in home-like atmospheres so that they can be future leaders to the communities around them (Uganda lost a generation of leaders to the LRA and AIDS). The kids from there are doing amazing, many going to university as role models to the surrounding communities.

8 – Decide now that you would offer your child’s organs in the case of death

I know that this is a strange thing to mention, but I mention it because of this: Obviously there is a problem. Ideally a person would never seek some sick solution to their child dying and we could cut off the demand for such things as child organs. However, we must look at the reality that there is a demand partially because other parents didn’t let their children’s bodies go. I hope that if my child died and their body/organs were healthy, that I would know I had already made this decision to let my child’s life further bless another family. It could give many children a longer chance to hear about Jesus. Often times, people get to meet their donor’s families and you could let your child’s life legacy and Christ’s legacy be known to that family in a VERY powerful way. I know I haven’t lost a child and I would NEVER cast a judgment on a grieving mom, but I just say that I hope that somehow me making a decision now with my husband about this, would help me in that moment do something extraordinary, even if just to remember that my child is no longer in that body, but in whole with the One who made him/her.

We don’t know the end of our story yet. We don’t know if something will happen with Ethiopia and they will close adoption and we’ll be out serious cash and hopes. We don’t know if we’ll adopt and be discouraged for reasons and not do it again. We don’t know if we’ll adopt many more kids from different avenues (I HOPE). I say all that to say that I know that I am still early in this, but even if I get massively screwed in this whole deal (whatever that means), I am still responsible to:

Obey God in Scripture and He calls all believers to care for orphans in widows in some way (not necessarily to adopt, but care for them) both short and long term – there are many to choose from

Obey God’s specific call on my life and right now it is to pursue international adoption

Cheer on those who are working hard to obey God’s redeeming work in whatever ways they feel called to.

Thank God that in the end, He wins and He will restore all this mess….and believe that He wishes to do so much of it NOW!

Favorite blogs: (from Rage Against the Minivan)

Other organizations have encouraged me:

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