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'These children don’t recognize the flags of their home countries, but they can all sing "Jesus Loves Me."'
April 28, 2011 12:08 PM   Subscribe

The Evangelical Adoption Crusade

"The adoption industry is on a steep decline after years of ethical problems and tightening regulations around the world."

In the last two years evangelical advocacy for adoption has skyrocketed. Why?
In Reclaiming Adoption, [Dan] Cruver bluntly declares, "The ultimate purpose of human adoption by Christians, therefore, is not to give orphans parents, as important as that is. It is to place them in a Christian home that they might be positioned to receive the gospel.”
posted by zarq (137 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
This article is by Kathryn Joyce, author of Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movemen. An interview with her from Friendly Atheist about that book.
posted by zarq at 12:11 PM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Honey, it's not that we love you more than your mother did, but because we want you to know the Lord Jesus is your Savior."

I'd like to see these kids as adults, and compare the percentage who still sing Jesus Loves Me as adults vs. children who are born into Christian families.

In other words, does it matter why the kids were adopted, if they are in safe houses?
posted by filthy light thief at 12:17 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hm, I'm getting a bit of a gotta-catch-em-all vibe from the way some of the individual churches are approaching this. Maybe it's the bulk-buy way that goals for a particular number of children to be adopted by a particular congregation within a particular time period are being set.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 12:20 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reclaiming Adoption—one in a growing list of titles about “orphan theology,” which teaches that adoption mirrors Christian salvation, plays an essential role in antiabortion politics and is a means of fulfilling the Great Commission, the biblical mandate that Christians spread the gospel.

They do have at least this right! It's about time they started putting their money where their mouth was on these issues. You're going to smugly and self-righteously talk the talk about being a follower of the guy whose mantra was "love thy nighbor", you'd better walk the walk! This is especialy true in the abortion debate. If you're going to take some woman's right to terminate a pregnancy that everyone knows is going to be a disaster for her, the baby, and possibly even the community, you'd better be willing to step up and give a helping hand.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:25 PM on April 28, 2011 [19 favorites]


Great...another Stolen Generation.
posted by bonobothegreat at 12:25 PM on April 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


Given the horrific conditions that children in Haiti, Rwanda, and other third-world countries have to live in (ranging from malnutrition to starvation to exploitation to drug abuse to illiteracy to ... well, you get the idea), is it so bad to have them raised by middle-class Western families? At a minimum, they'll get food, housing, education, and safety, none of which they would get in their country of origin. It will come with a large dose of Jesus stuff, but it beats starving to death.

On the other hand, look at what the US did with Native American adoptions in the previous century. Not exactly a stunning success, even though I imagine that some of the (religious-based) reasons for adopting were the same.

I'm all for anything that increases adoptions and saves children, assuming that it's done in a careful, ethical, regulated manner (as much as possible). If gays and singles and others can adopt (and well they should), why not evangelicals?

It's interesting to note that European and Canadian families come here to the US to adopt African-American children. I do think that the evangelicals could start at home (as mentioned in the article), but ultimately that's an individual choice.
posted by math at 12:26 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


For most animals, reproduction is simply a matter of passing on their biological material to a new generation. Humans are more complex, because they have also a cultural material. Depending on the individual, passing on this cultural material can be even more important than passing on the biological material. Thus:

1. Adoption is a method of passing on cultural material.
2. Evangelical Christianity is cultural material.
3. From (1) and (2), we can see that this is a totally ordinary motivation for adoption, even though it has an exotic sheen as a result of the language employed.

Now the article itself does not make the argument that the Christians are stealing babies and brainwashing them, because that is stupid. However, the conclusion, which reads,
Despite the altruistic motives of many evangelical adopters, the size and wealth of their movement is likely to tip the balance of a system that already responds too blithely to the moral and humanitarian concerns raised by poor countries and all too readily to Western demand.
seems to imply, probably correctly, that an increase in demand will lead to a forcible increase in supply, which may not be what is desired when the commodity in question is human children. This point is not expressed in FPP. Instead, one gets the impression that something quite sinister is going on.
posted by Electrius at 12:29 PM on April 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


It will come with a large dose of Jesus stuff, but it beats starving to death.

As someone who attended several "Jesus camps" in New Mexico and Texas, I'd say it really depends.
posted by hermitosis at 12:30 PM on April 28, 2011 [13 favorites]


If gays and singles and others can adopt (and well they should), why not evangelicals?

Because evangelicals want me as a gay man to be barred from adopting. So fuck 'em, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.
posted by blucevalo at 12:31 PM on April 28, 2011 [13 favorites]


The Sneer At Anything Crusade
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 12:33 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


As an offshoot of the main discussion...
The adoption agency my wife works for facilitates domestic adoptions only. They do, however, perform home studies for couples doing an international adoption elsewhere. This is, in fact, a healthy part of their business. Because of this, these Christian agencies can wield a good amount of influence over my wife's agency, including insisting that my wife's agency not have any dealings with Planned Parenthood, on pain of losing home study referrals. Which makes no bloody sense, if you really think about it.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:35 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


If the kids are even orphans and not just stolen.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:35 PM on April 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think it's important to make a distinction between most adoptive families, many of whom know little to nothing about the actual process of adoption, and the adoption agencies which serve them.

It isn't that hard to understand why evangelicals are drawn to adoption. They're pro-life, so that fits. Most of them have vague concerns about foreign evangelism if they don't actually support foreign missionaries. And children are generally viewed in a positive light, with evangelical families tending to be larger than average.

I know quite a few families, mostly evangelical, who have adopted, and the vast majority got more more involved in the actual process than going over to pick up the child once the paperwork was finished. Combine that with an almost comical ignorance of even domestic law, and it isn't hard for an adoption agency which talks a good game to pull unbelievable stunts behind the scenes and overseas.

That being said, it's always bugged me that the evangelical fervor for adoption is almost always focused on international adoption. Other than the sheer glamor of it--Brangelina anyone?--I cannot for the life of me think of any reason why adopting a kid from Asia or Africa is of any kind of higher or different ethical value than adopting from the local foster care system. But this isn't an issue unique to adoption, or even to evangelicals. Lots of people spend a lot of time worried about how things are overseas or somewhere far away while ignoring the good that can be done on their own blocks. Being worried in the abstract permits a pleasant feeling of righteousness without demanding much in the way of personal commitment, and with adoption, which does, looking overseas means not having to get involved in the local community, which is tough and scary.

So I'm ambivalent about a lot of this stuff. On one hand, I think some of the trends and ideologies involved are pretty troubling. On the other hand, lots of kids who actually are orphans and/or in shitty situations wind up in families that want and care for them.
posted by valkyryn at 12:35 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


There are easier ways to have a captive audience for evangelism than adoption, so I doubt this to be the primary motivation. Plain old altruism and applied Christian ethics seems more likely an explanation than evangelism.
posted by dgran at 12:37 PM on April 28, 2011


If gays and singles and others can adopt (and well they should), why not evangelicals?

Gays cannot adopt in all states. And, in the states where they can, many adoption agencies come under very strong pressure from religious groups to not accept gay clients.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:37 PM on April 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


Which makes no bloody sense, if you really think about it.

It makes as much sense as boycotting a major restaurant chain because you're pissed about their use of migrant labor. Which is to say "Not all that much, but since when has that stopped anyone from making an emotional point?"

posted by valkyryn at 12:37 PM on April 28, 2011


SO, uh, is this the christian version of Blood Libel ?
posted by k5.user at 12:37 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think valkyryn explains my own ambivalence pretty well.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:38 PM on April 28, 2011


Ditto math - and hell, what if they get "brainwashed" into being Christians? Is the loss of culture a concern? It's a better way of supporting someone's anti-abortion ideals than, it's supporting ethnic diversity, it's placing kids into stable homes. Hoping it's not something fucked up like the Laura Silsby situation ...
But what most people will remember about adoption in Haiti is the saga of Laura Silsby and nine other Southern Baptists who were jailed after trying to transport thirty-three “orphans”—most solicited from living families—to an unbuilt orphanage in the Dominican Republic, to await prospective evangelical adopters. Throughout the scandal the group members maintained they were simply “ten Christians who obeyed God’s calling.”
... and as long as families aren't adopting kids beyond their means, it sounds like net good. Hey, and if money is being spent on helping families to pay adoptions fees (which, according to the first article, "can range from $20,000 to $63,000"), that means less funding into anti-choice propaganda, right? And if these kids really are orphans, their parents are dead, so they have no one to care for them. I rather doubt people in impoverished nations will be enticed to have more children, if the adopted children are orphans. Unless kids are abandoned if the family cannot care for them? Speculation.

blucevalo: Because evangelicals want me as a gay man to be barred from adopting. So fuck 'em, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Ah, fuck. Good point.

Thorzdad: ... these Christian agencies can wield a good amount of influence over my wife's agency, including insisting that my wife's agency not have any dealings with Planned Parenthood.

Double fuck!

Seriously, Conservative Christians, why not make it easy and just focus on the "love more children" side of Christianity, instead of "you're not worthy of being a parent" and "recreational sex only when married."
posted by filthy light thief at 12:38 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Electrius: "...seems to imply, probably correctly, that an increase in demand will lead to a forcible increase in supply, which may not be what is desired when the commodity in question is human children. This point is not expressed in FPP. Instead, one gets the impression that something quite sinister is going on."

I tried to be careful not to editorialize in the FPP.

filthy light thief: " In other words, does it matter why the kids were adopted, if they are in safe houses?"

Concern has been raised by some with knowledge of the industry that parents are being urged to adopt in order to adopt in order to fulfill a Christian duty, but not being adequately prepared to handle the issues that come from adoption, and/or the psychological and emotional challenges that the child(ren) may have. Read this.
posted by zarq at 12:39 PM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


See, here's the thing, though -- you know how in a lot of the threads about abortion on the blue, someone at some point mentions that a lot of the pro-life crowd only cares about the unborn "up to the time that they're born"? This development means that now the evangelical community is starting to realize, "wait, pregnancy isn't the end of things, and motherhood isn't always the answer for some people. That means...there are unwanted kids out there."

And you know that pro-life argument that "but so many mothers and fathers are desperate for a child of their own, so why don't you put yours up for adoption"? And you know how those people always seem to overlook the fact that there are so many special-needs kids who don't get adopted, because those "desperate mothers and fathers" want a little baby that looks perfect? This now means that the evangelical community may start realizing, "whoa, wait, we need to do something about these kids too. ....And there are a lot of them...."

This could be an interesting game-changer in some ways.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:41 PM on April 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


And, to note, this isn't really anything new ..

Consider the Shaker sect - no sex, so no natural pro-creation, but they ran orphanages, and some kids when they came of age joined the group. (Didn't keep the group from dying out)..
posted by k5.user at 12:42 PM on April 28, 2011


As someone who was raised in a conservative Christian home but then left the church when I turned 18, and knows many others with similar stories, I can say that the attempts by the Christian Right to influence the next generation have a pretty high failure rate.

My major concern, which doesn't seem to have been address in the Nation piece, is how the families treat children who are LGBT. On one hand, being queer in a third world country is probably worse than growing up with anti-gay parents in the US, where the child has the option to move to a progressive city in their 20s and has more legal protections. On the other hand, having homophobic parents fucking sucks and they can do a lot of damage to a child in the first 18 years of his or her life.

I've thought about this when I've watched 19 Kids and Counting, the reality show about the conservative Christian family who have nine girls and ten boys.

The oldest son is 23 and already married with two children. Like many conservative Christians, there is a lot of pressure to marry young, before a person has really had a chance to figure themselves out. And with 19 kids, how many do you think are gay, lesbian or trans but won't have anyone to support them and will be pressured into marriage and reproduction and a breakdown at 40?
posted by riruro at 12:45 PM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


OP has discovered a smoking gun that Christians usually call "the Great Commission". The command by Jesus to make disciples of the nation, in othe words.

What is different maybe is that maybe it seems novel that it is presented primarily as motivating adoption of international children. But you have to be a member of these communities to see this for something other than some great conspiracy. Families who adopt - Christians or non christians - do so almost always because of some constraint on their fertility preferences. Recall that for any evangelical that finds the above language persuasive already is seeing the general task of parenting in such "Great Commission" terms already. Evangelical chrisianity prioritizes "missions" and "childrearing", and not surprisingly given the costs of adoption domestically, as well as i suspect the increased supply of babies to adopt with entry of international agencies, you are seeing the same here.

I think too you have to also know that oftentimes chrisians who adopt feel generally left out. In our church, I know of 4 families who have adopted. In all cases, the parents were hitting up against constraints due to preferences for a child. They were either struggling with years of infertility, or the desire for a particular gender, or being single and a professional and due to reatrictive norms on non-marital sexual behavior simply wanting to be a mother. There is a tendency I am told for adopting parents in general to be implicitly or explicitly informed that the additional costs they incurred because of adoption is really their own problem. "normal" birthing is in other words sometimes seen as explicitly either something the family didn't choose (but adoption is volitional), or it may even be that people flat out tell the family that "it was gods will they be infertile so you are jus not content". It sucks pretty bad - not only do they have to deal with this unrequited grief over miscarriage after miscarriage, they then are made to feel second class or just plain evil for even WANTING a child.

Language like his is valuable for all kinds of reasons. First of all, because the Christian framework you must understand is explicitly already framed in terms of adoption. Christians in the evangelical tradition are typically Lutheran with regards to their view of "being Christian". That is, there is heavy dose of "salvation is by gods unmerited love for you" or grace. And that is oftentimes even called adoption outright.

But two, it's helpful I think for reminding FERTILE Christians that their neighbors are doing something really important. They are giving a christian home to orphans from around the world. That actually may primarily function to make adoption THE SAME as own-biological childbearing, as opposed to anything else.

Ultimately, you need to remember that these churches always teach childrearing as "Great Commision". It is just often that people who have never had problems having a kid themselves can experience profound insensitivity towards those for whom it has been impossible.
posted by scunning at 12:45 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Sneer At Anything Crusade
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 2:33 PM


Well played...
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:45 PM on April 28, 2011


"-I cannot for the life of me think of any reason why adopting a kid from Asia or Africa is of any kind of higher or different ethical value than adopting from the local foster care system. "

Depending on where the kids are from, you can make a utilitarian argument that it's more good to raise a kid out of lower standards. Obviously, that doesn't go for all moral systems, but it's there.

As far as the larger question, I'm ambivalent too — I don't like the weird prescriptions and blinkered worldview, and I'd prefer it if adoption were easier (though I recognize that a large part of its difficulty comes from ethical safeguards being impediments to transactions). But I've got a relative who has two biological kids and (I think at last count) ten adopted kids, including a handful with severe mental handicaps, and I've got to say that they do a pretty impressive job of raising 'em. (And it may be just my prejudices, but I worry less about the Downs kids getting the massive doses of Jebus than the other kids.)
posted by klangklangston at 12:46 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


So once the kids accept Jesus into their heart, then what? Do they get dumped back on the orphanage or their home country to spread the good word? And what happens if they fail to get gospelized? Do they get sent back for a refund?

Just curious here.
posted by happyroach at 12:49 PM on April 28, 2011


scunning: "OP has discovered..."

...an article highlighting a trend I'm already well aware of, presented in an article by someone who has previously proven herself familiar with the beliefs and culture of those involved. That's all.
posted by zarq at 12:57 PM on April 28, 2011


And with 19 kids, how many do you think are gay, lesbian or trans

Considering there's research which shows that the more male children a mother has, the greater the chances that the younger males she bears will be homosexual, I'd say probably more than a couple.

I do end up wishing there was a greater concern for children needing care in the US by these groups. Do your good works close to home, etc etc.

I do remember one family from when I was working in an elementary school which adopted three siblings from Russia. There was a creepy vibe about the whole thing which came from the mother, sort of like she'd bagged some exotic trophies or something. She'd never introduce the children as her own, but always "my adopted Russian son" or whatever, and seemed to bask in the attention she got within the country club community for having done this adoption. I can't speak to her real motivations, obviously, but from the outside it just felt odd.
posted by hippybear at 12:58 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


you can make a utilitarian argument that it's more good to raise a kid out of lower standards

Yeah, but there isn't much utilitarian in the way evangelicals tend to approach these things.
posted by valkyryn at 1:00 PM on April 28, 2011


Happyroach - come on dude. At least make an effort to conceal your distaste for people who you obviously do not one thing about (or apparently their religion for that matter). How about a little curiosity about people who have different views as opposed to being nasty and judgemental?
posted by scunning at 1:00 PM on April 28, 2011


And with 19 kids, how many do you think are gay, lesbian or trans but won't have anyone to support them and will be pressured into marriage and reproduction and a breakdown at 40?

Remember, you can disown like 14 of the 19 kids and still have a huge family Christmas.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 1:02 PM on April 28, 2011


Currently re-reading Octavia Butler's future-dystopia Parable of the Talents, which has already been wigging me out with its prescience about the American economy and decline of social services. Book hinges on the stealing of children by fundamentalists. We're living in Octavia Butler's end times, people. /end hysterical handwaving
posted by gusandrews at 1:03 PM on April 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


This could be an interesting game-changer in some ways.

If the focus wasn't on international adoption, maybe. I have trouble seeing this "movement" as little more than an imperialistic incursion into the lives of the impoverished. Taking the children of foreign countries and indoctrinating them into your beliefs has taken many forms but it's nothing new.

That is not to say that all international adoptions take this form. I feel a great compassion for those who are able to help and enrich the lives of children from awful circumstances.

There are better things that can be done for the impoverished people of the world than raising their children into our lifestyles and beliefs.
posted by polyhedron at 1:05 PM on April 28, 2011 [13 favorites]


Should gay evangelicals be allowed to adopt?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:09 PM on April 28, 2011


> This could be an interesting game-changer in some ways.

If the focus wasn't on international adoption, maybe.


Ah, see, that's where you have the opening to sic the "anchor babies" crowd against the "Quiverful" crowd ("hey, look, why are they adopting foreign babies instead of American ones?") and then just let them just blaze out.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:10 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


(It should probably be said that I am being a mite sarcastic with all my comments.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:11 PM on April 28, 2011


There are better things that can be done for the impoverished people of the world than raising their children into our lifestyles and beliefs.
posted by polyhedron
Wasn't there a mefi article (I wasn't finding it on tag africa/bike/charity) about some folks who IIRC, set up a charity to send bikes to kids in Africa to help them get to school, and the fallout about stupid white imperialists. I mean, if there are better ideas, but good ideas kept getting this kind of treatment, who's going to suggest them ?
posted by k5.user at 1:13 PM on April 28, 2011


From Episode 380 of This American Life

"ACT TWO. WHERE’S KING SOLOMON WHEN YOU NEED HIM?
Reporter Ted Gesing interviews Mike Nyberg about adopting a little girl from Samoa, only to learn over time that her Samoan family had no intention of giving her up for adoption. The US adoption agency had told the Nybergs that their adoption would be closed, and that their little girl Elleia had been living in a foster home waiting for adoptive parents; but in Samoa, Elleia's parents were told that their daughter could come to the US and receive a better education, and that the adoptive family would send money and regular updates on their daughter's progress. The whole situation leaves the Nybergs trying to find their way through sticky moral territory. (31 minutes)."

It was part of a Mormon adoption effort.

Relevant bit toward the end---when one of the adoptive parents believes that even though his adoptive child was taken from her birth family and adopted out without their permission, she must be better off in America because the are a well-off family.
That sort of reasoning, although I understand that adoptive dad's anguish when he made that statement, makes me heart sick.

These kinds of Christians--the ones who are saving the savages by adopting them--they believe non-Christians are fundamentally inferior. The things they do to other people, the kinds of programs or political candidates they support or don't support, the ways in which they try to control people...it's really damaging. There are other kinds of people who do similar things on the basis of believing in their own superiority. But since we're talking about this brand of Evangelical Christian here -- I'm calling them out on this.

I don't like it one bit.
posted by vitabellosi at 1:14 PM on April 28, 2011 [22 favorites]


Good for them! Not being sarcastic.

I remember reading (but don't have a handy cite for) that in the US it's Evangelicals who have the lowest rate of adult retention. That is to say, a higher percentage of people raised Evangelical leave the church/religion/mindset as adults than those from any other metaphysical creed.
posted by jtron at 1:16 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, illegal child brokering is a terrible thing, and makes me wish there really were a God Batman.
posted by jtron at 1:19 PM on April 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


"The ultimate purpose of human adoption by Christians, therefore, is not to give orphans parents, as important as that is. It is to place them in a Christian home that they might be positioned to receive the gospel.”

And they think that kids aren't going to pick up on this, consciously and unconsciously, throughout their upbringing? And that it's not going to really screw them up? Seriously?

And for all the people who are making the argument that at least they end up in stable homes, what about the fact that providing children for adoption is now the number one money-making venture in Haiti?

Me, I've got more respect for the kind of people running places like that other orphanage in Haiti mentioned in the article: the one that uses all of its money to take care of actual orphans and doesn't actually perform adoptions.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:21 PM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Many orphanages in Haiti provide for children whose parents can’t afford to feed them but who remain involved and visit often. But Haiti also has a history of unethical adoption programs. Post-earthquake, Krabacher says, they have become “the biggest money-making operation in Haiti.” Indeed, many orphanages, mindful of high international adoption fees, tell struggling parents that they should give up one of their children.

What could go wrong? Too angry to form any coherent thoughts right now.
posted by peep at 1:23 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Should gay evangelicals be allowed to adopt?

All 3 of them?

These kinds of Christians--the ones who are saving the savages by adopting them--they believe non-Christians are fundamentally inferior.

Not flaming, but almost by definition, any Christian who believes in heaven and hell (i.e. scripture) also believes non-Christians are fundamentally inferior. How could you not?

I'm fine with evangelicals adopting children who are for adoption. I'm not fine with all of the fraud and chicanery that the article mentions, not to mention the pressure exerted on birth parents in third-world countries. It's an ugly business.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:28 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm ambivalent here.

On the one hand I really, really, worry about the motives of someone who wants to adopt as a means of spreading their religion. That just seems like a very bad motive.

On that same hand I also see, possibly wrongly, racism involved. Take, for example, Haiti. It's over 95% Christian already. How, exactly, do the people there have a desperate need for evangelizing? I get a wiff of "those darkies don't know how to be real Christians". Same goes, though somewhat less so, for Ethiopia. It's around 63% Christian (with the remainder being mainly Muslim). Given Muslim beliefs I rather doubt many orphans of Muslim parents are going to be adopted to Evangelical Christians, which brings us back to the racist vibe I get.

Maybe I'm completely off on the racist angle, but I'm somewhat concerned.

And, still on the same hand, the baby stealing aspect is not something that can be dismissed lightly.

But, on the other hand, "pro-life" Christians actually caring for post-born children is something I very much think we should encourage.

And, concerns of racism in the motives to the side, I can't see how mixing races in such an intimate fashion can be anything put a net gain. I'm sure there are some nasty sorts who would make their adopted kid feel bad, or excluded, but on the whole I'm confident that the overwhelming majority start from a good position and can only improve as the relationship goes on.

So, yeah, massive ambivalence here.
posted by sotonohito at 1:32 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


"I cannot for the life of me think of any reason why adopting a kid from Asia or Africa is of any kind of higher or different ethical value than adopting from the local foster care system."

The difference is not ethical per se, but that surprisingly few foster children are available for adoption -- their parents have not chosen to terminate their parental rights, or have not had them terminated by the state -- and that foster children available for adoption are often older, not babies (or even under 5s). Other deterrents include well-documented medical histories that point out things like parental drug addiction, fetal alcohol syndrome, serious emotional problems, etc.

Of course, the problems in international adoptions that have led to these more stringent standards (tightening up the supply, as they say) are similar but were more easily papered over internationally -- children who were not actually orphans, children with serious medical and emotional problems that are hidden by the orphanages, etc.

Many families pursue international adoption on the theory that it is easier, faster, cheaper, or that more "normal" children are available. In the past the first three may have been true, but that convenience was sometimes hiding serious abuses.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:33 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


mrgrimm: " Not flaming, but almost by definition, any Christian who believes in heaven and hell (i.e. scripture) also believes non-Christians are fundamentally inferior. How could you not?"

I'm not entirely sure this is accurate.

It seems similar to the age-old canard that because Jews call themselves the "chosen people" they think they're better than everyone else, when in reality, the phrase refers to unique obligations that Jews believe they have to G-d.
posted by zarq at 1:33 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not flaming, but almost by definition, any Christian who believes in heaven and hell (i.e. scripture) also believes non-Christians are fundamentally inferior.

No, I don't think that's anywhere close to "by definition". It's certainly not correct. Many Christians feel blessed to be Christian - which is a way of saying "lucky". And they may think that being Christian puts them in a better position than not being Christian, in the same way that I think being a fairly affluent Westerner puts me in a better position than being a poor person in the third world; I don't think that makes me better than the poor third-worlder, just luckier.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:34 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


In other words, does it matter why the kids were adopted, if they are in safe houses?

On the other hand, lots of kids who actually are orphans and/or in shitty situations wind up in families that want and care for them.

This is especialy true in the abortion debate. If you're going to take some woman's right to terminate a pregnancy that everyone knows is going to be a disaster for her, the baby, and possibly even the community, you'd better be willing to step up and give a helping hand.


It would help if a number of these groups weren't so actively campaigning against any sort of foreign aid involving contraception.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:36 PM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Take, for example, Haiti. It's over 95% Christian already. How, exactly, do the people there have a desperate need for evangelizing?

Two things. First, Haiti is mostly Catholic, and for a lot of evangelicals, that doesn't count. Second, about half of the population is still actively engaged in some form of paganism, and even mainstream Catholics tend to have a problem with that.

But that aside, the biggest sources of foreign adoption have been east and southern Asia, neither of which is particularly Christian, demographically speaking.
posted by valkyryn at 1:37 PM on April 28, 2011


Can't keep people in their movement, so they take other people's babies.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:38 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


scunning: Ultimately, you need to remember that these churches always teach childrearing as "Great Commision". It is just often that people who have never had problems having a kid themselves can experience profound insensitivity towards those for whom it has been impossible.

The articles linked say more than that - there are some shady efforts in some cases where it's more than providing a loving family with a Christian upbringing, but some larger efforts by some large Christian adoption agencies/groups to shift policies in their favor, and against others (or to work in countries and not be 100% above board about their actions). Weird, icky example from the first article:
Last winter, in the wake of the earthquake, the Rev. Tom Benz announced his plan to “airlift 50 to 150 [Haitian] orphans” to a place called BridgeStone, a 140-acre retreat center owned by his Alabama church. Benz, a jolly pastor who runs an evangelical summer program for Ukrainian orphans next to the Black Sea, explained that the Haiti program would host children for ninety days, during which volunteers would teach them English, “immerse them in the gospel” and “incubate adoptions” with local church families.

...

“It’s not like we’re taking the kids permanently,” he said. “We’re taking them for ninety days, and then they’re going back.” Reminded of the adoption mission, Benz chuckled. “Well, that’s absolutely part of our agenda, but you know, that’s not the thing we’re going to emphasize to the Haitian government!”
First, I realize this is only one scummy operation, not a couple who can't have kids. But instead of Rev. Tom Benz providing lasting help in Haiti, he's focusing on his Mission as a Christian. How is a 90 day "retreat" helping these kids in the long run? Why not build schools and infrastructure in town, instead of carrying kids away to teach them English and about your god?

In short: the linked articles don't do a lot to emphasize the families who cannot give birth to their own children, but instead focus on the more controversial side of Evangelical adoption.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:38 PM on April 28, 2011


surprisingly few foster children are available for adoption

Tacking on to that, many if not most of the children that are available aren't infants. They tend to be in the 9-14 range, which is a massively different undertaking than adopting a babe in arms. A kid who has spent five or ten years in the foster system is more likely to have bigger problems than a kid who's less than two years old, total. That makes a lot of potential adoptive parents gunshy, for understandable reasons.
posted by valkyryn at 1:39 PM on April 28, 2011


That being said, it's always bugged me that the evangelical fervor for adoption is almost always focused on international adoption

Its about the conversion, more than anything else.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:40 PM on April 28, 2011


Can't keep people in their movement, so they take other people's babies.

You're better than that. Not only is it a thoughtless and mean-spirited comment, but it's factually incorrect. Evangelical churches and evangelicalism in general is growing fairly quickly. MetaFilter certainly seems to attract more than its fair share of ex-evangelicals, but confirmation bias is not demographics.
posted by valkyryn at 1:41 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


A kid who has spent five or ten years in the foster system is more likely to have bigger problems than a kid who's less than two years old, total. That makes a lot of potential adoptive parents gunshy, for understandable reasons.

Sure, but the (admittedly small pool) foreign adoptions I've known about in my lifetime, none of them have been toddlers or younger. The Russians I mentioned earlier were aged 5, 6, and 8, and the others I've know about were all at least old-elementary-school age, if not older.
posted by hippybear at 1:42 PM on April 28, 2011


Ironmouth: "Can't keep people in their movement, so they take other people's babies."

You know, this was kinda-sorta alleged by the author of the article, but it struck me as an incredibly cynical assertion. The evangelical movement is growing quite rapidly and they already tend to have large families. They're not shrinking, and don't need to steal and convert babies in order to keep their numbers up.
posted by zarq at 1:45 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Evangelicalism may be growing overall, but according to this article, the retention rate is falling fast.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:53 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Utterly sinister.
posted by Decani at 2:00 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Evangelical churches and evangelicalism in general is growing fairly quickly

I am reading American Grace by Robert Putnam and David Campbell. On page 105, there is a chart labelled "Trends in Religous Identity, 1973-2008" that shows that Evangelicals were 23% of the population in 1973, rose to about 28% in the early 90s, and stood at 24% in 2008. It's counter to most people's impressions, perhaps because during this time Evangelicals became more culturally visible through greater involvement in politics, but, they say, "Since this fact is not widely understood, it is worth reemphasizing--the evangelical boom that began in the 1970s was over by the early 1990s, nearly two decades ago" (p. 105, emphasis in original).

However, they go on to say that there has been a rise in evangelicals at the conservative end of the political spectrum (evangelicals weren't always necessarily politically conservative, isn't that interesting? The two are so hand-in-glove now it's hard to believe), and dramatic growth during the same decades of Americans who don't identify as religious as all (who answer "none" when asked their religious preference), and who identify strongly as politically liberal. Meanwhile, the formerly great many moderate (both potlitically and religously) Christians are the ones who have been disappearing, so while Evangelicals have not increased in numbers, they have increased as a percentage of people who identify as religious. And there's been an increasing polarization between the religous and conservative on one end, and the liberal "nones" on the other other end, with no middle ground of moderates to connect them to each other.

The growth you see in big (usually non-denominational) mega-churches (for instance) represents a growth in one area of Evangelism that is offset by large declines in other Evangelical denominations.

So say Putnam and Campbell.

I worry about two things after reading this article. One is that there has already been pressure to provide babies and young children for Americans and Europeans, and this has led to unethical practices. More demand can only create more pressure.

The other is that, if you listen to some people who were adopted internationally in, say, the 70s who are now adults, one of the things that they describe as being painful about their upbringing is that there were no efforts to create connections to their home cultures, and that they were often explicitly told how "lucky" they were. It has seemed to me that international adoption as it has been practiced in the last decade has been at least marginally better in that many adoptive families at least make an effort to honor the home culture, and recognize that their child is not "lucky" in the sense that something very bad had to happen for the child to be available for adoption, and even if they are glad to be giving the child a good home with many comforts and advantages, they still often carry a kernel of grief about that, and a concern for conditions in the home country.

The motivation and language of these Christian adoption movement people concerns me in that they seem more likely to send the kids a message that their home culture is not valued ("don't recognize the flags of the their home countries") and that they are "lucky" to have been removed from it, and so here comes another generation of kids who will have to deal with the complexity of the issues on their own, without help from their parents, and who will also likely have to carry that burden of pain and anger about knowing that they are not "lucky" and that the culture and ethnic group that produced them are being denigrated.
posted by not that girl at 2:04 PM on April 28, 2011 [21 favorites]


She'd never introduce the children as her own, but always "my adopted Russian son" or whatever, and seemed to bask in the attention she got within the country club community for having done this adoption. Am abruptly reminded of AbFab & Edina threatening to adopt a Romanian baby. Which is pretty much the exact opposite of these folks, I guess.
posted by epersonae at 2:05 PM on April 28, 2011


"I cannot for the life of me think of any reason why adopting a kid from Asia or Africa is of any kind of higher or different ethical value than adopting from the local foster care system."

Because if you don't adopt the kids from the local foster system they might grow up to be poor or hoodlums or have emotional issues or whatever, but if you don't adopt the kids from the crappy third world country then they might not grow up at all.

I have two internationally adopted sisters so I learned a bit about this during their adoption process. The prospects for Russian girls who don't get adopted before they age out of orphanage system at 16 are really poor. IIRC, the stats at the time (~10 years ago) were that ~10% committed suicide and ~50% became prostitutes (and many of those would then die young of AIDS or drug overdoses).

And Russia is relatively rich compared to many countries. A lot of unadopted orphans just starve to death in childhood.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:07 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Sneer At Anything Crusade

If I can't sneer at people who want to legislatively deprive me of pretty much all of the rights that everyone else seems to have, and who otherwise want to make sure my life is a living hell on earth, I might as well just shoot myself and get it over with.
posted by blucevalo at 2:11 PM on April 28, 2011 [14 favorites]


Also, as much as I don't like evangelical Christianity, I'd rather see those orphans adopted and raised Christian in the U.S. than left to wallow in poverty in a culture that not only isn't economically or socially equipped to care for its orphans but also substitutes witchcraft for medicine, brutally subjugates women, believes that fucking a virgin cures AIDS, etc.

Sometimes there are no good solutions, just less-bad ones. Evangelical Christian brainwashing is a lot better than many of these kids' other alternatives.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:12 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whew. Deep breath. Chuck Johnson is a bad bad bad man.

National counsel for adoption used a marketing research company, blindfolded women who had relinquished children for adoption and asked them to share the details of what caused them to give up their children in oder to use that research to persuade future women into giving up their children and they created the Infant Adoption Awareness Training program funded with Title X money WHICH SHOULD NOT BE PERSUASIVE in offering pregnant women counseling---

however they used the info they gleened from this research to design a program that they since PAY professionals who work with unplanned pregnancy to "promote the positive option of adoption" to women in unplanned pregnancy.

I hope TO GOD IF THERE IS A GOD that they will fail miserably at increasing the number of women who give up children that they actually want to parent.

If there is a mom in a poor country struggling to feed her child--- Help the damn family get some food if you are "feeling gods calling"

Don't HELP YOURSELF TO THEIR CHILDREN. Angelina Jolie promised the family of one of her adopted children that she would offer visits-- and that she would build this super cool center in order to convince the country to let her adopt. She skrewed up the land at the site and then abandoned the project. The grandmother and other relatives have been begging for visits and she has been to the country numerous times and never visited.

I'll look for that story when I finish being pissed off at Chuck and the mother fuckers that have fucked up generations of my family.

Fuck anyone who pushes adoption rhetoric on someone who just needs help to parent their child.
posted by xarnop at 2:15 PM on April 28, 2011 [16 favorites]


Whew. But I will add, I think it's great to adopt true orphans and kids who are stuck in the foster system. So if that's what this movement does and it doesn't encourage the breaking up of families then I think it's fine.
posted by xarnop at 2:16 PM on April 28, 2011


"Since this fact is not widely understood, it is worth reemphasizing--the evangelical boom that began in the 1970s was over by the early 1990s, nearly two decades ago" (p. 105, emphasis in original).

By those numbers, there were something like 5 million more evangelicals in 2010 than there were in 1990. 28% of 248 million is about 69 million, but 24% of 308 million is about 74 million. "Not growing as fast as the population" is still "growing".
posted by valkyryn at 2:17 PM on April 28, 2011


"Not growing as fast as the population" is still "growing".

You could also define it as "losing market share."
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:19 PM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


if that's what this movement does and it doesn't encourage the breaking up of families then I think it's fine

Again, most of the evangelicals I know, especially the ones I know who have adopted, would be horrified to learn that they'd adopted a child that was not either 1) an honest-to-goodness orphan or 2) voluntarily surrendered by the birth parents. The fact that adoption agencies do bad things is a different analysis entirely from the evangelical cultural demands that encourage said agencies to cut corners.
posted by valkyryn at 2:19 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


You could also define it as "losing market share."

Irrelevant. The original assertion was that evangelicals couldn't retain their own and thus had to resort to adoption to sustain their numbers. But their numbers are actually growing, and not that slowly either. Granted, not as quickly as the population, but we are not seeing anything like the decline that the mainline denominations have experienced for the past five-odd decades.
posted by valkyryn at 2:21 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


" And if these kids really are orphans, their parents are dead, "

That's a huge "if". The Lie We Love [pdf] is a good overview.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:24 PM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


2) voluntarily surrendured

this is subjective.
Example.

Gladney is one of the largest and oldest agencies. The offer counseling in which they help women recognize their "moment of truth". Do you know what the moment of truth is?

The moment she realizes she has no choice but to place her child for adoption. How is that empowering ethical counseling?

It's NOT. The counseling is designed to make women believe that no matter what resources our out they, it won't be good enough, they will never be good enough, and also that THEY DON'T DESERVE THE RESOURCES THAT ARE OUT THERE.

the slogans like, "It's the best thing. It's the right thing. The child will have a better life" are all being given by counselors who should be helping these women find the internal and external resources to give their children a better life WITHOUT ADOPTION.

The counselors will say, "Most women want to keep their babies but they realize they can't do a good job and don't have enough resources"

Um hello, social worker? Shouldn't part of your job be to change that?
posted by xarnop at 2:25 PM on April 28, 2011 [11 favorites]


Of course the ideal solution would be to better the conditions in the orphans' home countries so that a) their parents aren't dying (a lot of kids are orphaned by the AIDS epidemic) and b) their extended families and/or local social resources are able to care for those kids in their home cultures. But bringing about that solution requires a massive amount of resources, social/political institutional change, and time.

Meanwhile, there are orphans who aren't getting adequate care in their home countries and people in the U.S. and other Western countries willing to adopt them. There's also far more people capable of taking in extra kids than there are people capable of making a meaningful contribution towards solving the third world's economic, medical, and social problems. So I see international adoption from poor countries as a good short-term interim solution for the kids already alive today while others work on long-term solutions for the root problems to make things better for the kids who will be born in the future.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:25 PM on April 28, 2011


Jacqueline: "Also, as much as I don't like evangelical Christianity, I'd rather see those orphans adopted and raised Christian in the U.S. than left to wallow in poverty in a culture that not only isn't economically or socially equipped to care for its orphans but also substitutes witchcraft for medicine, brutally subjugates women, believes that fucking a virgin cures AIDS, etc.

Except there are quite a few other possible alternatives than "left to wallow" and "adopted by evangelical Christians."

Evangelical Christian brainwashing is a lot better than many of these kids' other alternatives."

Indoctrination. Brainwashing is done against someone's will. Indoctrination is teaching uncritical acceptance of doctrine.
posted by zarq at 2:26 PM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Zarq, seemed like you were accusing evangelicals of something more sinister by calling it the evangelical adoption "crusade" as your title. I suppose I read into your post somethin that was not there. Apologies.
posted by scunning at 2:26 PM on April 28, 2011


scunning, it's okay. No need to apologize. The top link in the post is just the title of the article. :)
posted by zarq at 2:29 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think evangelicals view it as as a strict numbers game (growing vs. shrinking); I they do view it as market share, and if their numbers are growing more slowly than the rest of the population, that represents a shrinking influence. As a proselytizing religion, they're not interested in simply maintaining their own culture. It seems like this "ADOPT MOAR BABBY AND MAKE THEM CHRISTIANIZED" mentality is a response to that perceived decline in influence.

The idea that they're doing this to sustain their numbers might be inaccurate on a purely literal level (and the original statement might have been a bit harsh), but I think there's more than a kernel of truth to the idea that this "crusade to create a culture of adoption" is a response to the evangelical movement's declining market share.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:32 PM on April 28, 2011


"left to wallow in poverty in a culture that not only isn't economically or socially equipped to care for its orphans but also substitutes witchcraft for medicine, brutally subjugates women, believes that fucking a virgin cures AIDS, etc.
"

Ah yes, the mystical one international culture that exists in every country from which evangelicals adopt! No difference between Vietnam and Ethiopia! No cultural differences within those countries, either! Just a bunch of brutal rapist witch doctors.

What. The. Fuck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:32 PM on April 28, 2011 [11 favorites]


@zarq: Sure, there are better alternatives for some kids, but not for all of them, and many of the alternatives require more resources, time, and know-how than most people are able to offer. If individual families want to make a difference, taking in an extra kid or two is one of the most straightforward ways they can help.

Besides, most families wealthy enough to adopt internationally are in the social class that tends to send their kids to college, so most of their indoctrination will eventually take quite a beating at the hands of those damn liberal college professors. :D
posted by Jacqueline at 2:32 PM on April 28, 2011


By those numbers, there were something like 5 million more evangelicals in 2010 than there were in 1990. 28% of 248 million is about 69 million, but 24% of 308 million is about 74 million. "Not growing as fast as the population" is still "growing".

That's a good point--and browsing Putnam and Campbell's index, I can't find any place where they discuss absolute numbers rather than percentages. Seems like they are liking the percentages because it supports their thesis that certain denominations are declining. I will salve my ego by asserting that I'd probably have picked up on that myself except that I have a migraine.
posted by not that girl at 2:39 PM on April 28, 2011


Well many Korean adoptees don't see it so "nicely" as you do Jacqueline. Many have gone back to their home country and to work on reform there and are making a difference.

http://holtsurvivor.wordpress.com/2009/11/10/a-generation-fights-to-reform-adoption-laws/

Just look out Americans. A lot of us adoptees get Moses complexes. You take us in and educate us and abandon the rest of our people, we will take down your systemic power and give the power back to the common people.

So, you know, just to say. And hopefully prevent any more women losing children to people in power exploiting those who need help. The movement in Korea to empower the single mothers is really freaking powerful and awesome.
posted by xarnop at 2:40 PM on April 28, 2011 [17 favorites]


I heard about this on NPR just this afternoon. It seems to me that it's good Evangelicals are realizing that keeping the baby and putting it up for adoption is a real issue, especially when many parents are downright discriminatory in adoption. It's showing that they do have something of a plan for dealing with a society where everyone giving birth.

I don't agree with it, though. Childbirth and giving up a child for adoption can be more traumatic than an abortion in some cases. And it's really hard to prove that an early term embryo/fetus is entitled to rights, and most women don't wait until late to have an abortion, and (if I understand correctly) it's usually illegal in most states unless there is a major health issue.

And I fear their plan isn't enough. People may be religious to go to church and share its beliefs, but it takes a lot of motivation to actually go along with something as extreme as the demands of raising a child. Consider the same Bible also says to sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor. Considering evangelical churches tend to be from small or no sects, as well, this also means that it's only a fraction of evangelical churches that are pushing adoption this aggressively. And the math is pretty daunting. We currently have 118,000 children up for adoption in America, and not all of them will get homes. That might sound doable, but add in about 1.3 million abortions per year, and that's a pretty daunting task to find homes for all those children. You could argue it'd go down with abstinence-only education, but it's not very effective and seems to ignore human nature. And sadly, there's no major pro-life organization on the national scale that promotes contraception, which would be effective. If you want to go global, like many of these adopters want to, and impose a global ban on abortion somehow, there's now an extra 47 million babies to adopt each year.

And I also find the indoctrination of primarily foreign children to be a bit creepy, but probably better than growing up in the developing world without parents. I mean, I get that it's natural for parents to impose their values on their kids to a certain degree, and my mom raised me Presbyterian and I don't begrudge her for it. But at the same time, the emphasis on adoption being good because it puts impressionable young minds in a situation where it's hard not to accept Evangelical Christianity seems like a terrible way to go about adoption. Although that just might be window dressing to convince Evangelicals that God wants them to do it, thus making them feel even better about the process. And to be fair, they'll be growing up in a society that's got a lot of places to go for other viewpoints. I mean, if they get an unfiltered internet connection, they'll be having doubts within weeks.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:40 PM on April 28, 2011


To set aside the religious aspect of the story just for the moment, the PDF file linked above by the young rope-rider is horrifying and really sheds some light on just how sick and greed-oriented the international adoption already is, even without people like Cruver urging that it be quintupled in scale.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:41 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyhow, if you're horrified by the idea of evangelical Christians adopting orphans to raise them as Christians then either adopt them yourself and raise them to be good little atheists or donate the equivalent amount of money to a cause that is working on improving situations in the home country (e.g. prevent the spread of AIDS, provide better support for extended families to care for orphaned children, etc.) so that international adoption is no longer necessary. But please don't bitch about the people who are actually stepping up and DOING SOMETHING to help if you're not willing or able to do anything yourself.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:46 PM on April 28, 2011


"And I also find the indoctrination of primarily foreign children to be a bit creepy, but probably better than growing up in the developing world without parents."

Except that in many cases that's a false choice.

Demand for children brings foreign money which encourages people to keep up the supply of children. I strongly urge you to read some of the articles about international adoption posted here. A quote from the article Anatomy of an Adoption Crisis, linked on that page:
According to these internal documents, the State Department was confident it had discovered systemic nationwide corruption in Vietnam -- a network of adoption agency representatives, village officials, orphanage directors, nurses, hospital administrators, police officers, and government officials who were profiting by paying for, defrauding, coercing, or even simply stealing Vietnamese children from their families to sell them to unsuspecting Americans.
These evangelical groups are CONSTANTLY pressuring the state department and UNICEF to loosen regulations, let more kids go, do less research...either they are profoundly ignorant of the lack of supply of actual orphans, or they don't care if these children are stolen. Either way, they should be ashamed of themselves.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:49 PM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


the thing that always kills me is, adopting is frequently very expensive. Like $20K+ expensive. How far would that $20K go if it was given directly to the first parents?

I'm pro-choice, fiercely and firmly pro-choice, and as far as I'm concerned, coerced abortion is as bad as coerced birth. And economic coercion is still coercion. Telling a scared woman "You can either have an abortion, or give us your baby" is a false choice, because we have a THIRD option! We could provide her with the resources to bring her pregnancy to term and raise the child herself, if she wants to. Yet the evangelicals are somehow never into that. . .
posted by KathrynT at 2:50 PM on April 28, 2011 [31 favorites]


I'm personally not horrified about Christians adopting true orphans. I am horrified about anyone, from any religion spending a whole bunch of money on one child that has a living mother that they could afford to support parenting her own child for many years.

Or perssuading a mother into signing her child up for adoption because you believe rich women deserve the babies more than poor women.
posted by xarnop at 2:51 PM on April 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


OMG kathryn I'd like to favorite that a bazillion times.
posted by xarnop at 2:52 PM on April 28, 2011


It seems similar to the age-old canard that because Jews call themselves the "chosen people" they think they're better than everyone else, when in reality, the phrase refers to unique obligations that Jews believe they have to G-d.

Comme ci, comme ca. I would contend that believing you have a "unique obligation to G-d" is virtually the same as believing you are "superior." I might also argue that "superior" != "thinking you're better than everyone else" (though it often correlates). Perhaps if we sub "important" for "better."

So yeah, I guess it is similar to that "age-old canard." Certainly not all Jews think they are the "chosen people," at least according to my Jewish friends. /derail.


left to wallow in poverty in a culture that not only isn't economically or socially equipped to care for its orphans but also substitutes witchcraft for medicine, brutally subjugates women, believes that fucking a virgin cures AIDS, etc.

Good fucking lord.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:53 PM on April 28, 2011


donate the equivalent amount of money to a cause that is working on improving situations in the home country

It's already unnecessary; the study linked above by the young rope-rider points out that healthy babies have no problem finding good homes in their native countries. The "orphans" that actually could theoretically benefit from international adoption are older children and/or are sick or disabled, and generally speaking, those aren't the kids that get adopted by first world families.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:54 PM on April 28, 2011


"But please don't bitch about the people who are actually stepping up and DOING SOMETHING to help if you're not willing or able to do anything yourself."

Working for more ethical international adoptions is something I'm passionate about because of my personal experience with victims of attempted human trafficking. The prominent evangelicals involved in this movement are actively trying to make trafficking of children WORSE. They either don't know or don't care that it's an inevitable side effect of a significant increase in demand.

Go ahead and accuse everyone who finds it problematic of being lazy or unhelpful if you want, but I, for one, sleep better at night knowing that I'm not actively lobbying for policies that will decrease oversight and increase child trafficking and adoption profiteering.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:54 PM on April 28, 2011 [13 favorites]


It seems to me that it's good Evangelicals are realizing that keeping the baby and putting it up for adoption is a real issue

Most of the article is about international adoption, which has fuck-all to do with abortion/adoption within the US.
posted by hippybear at 2:55 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Grrr! Yes, I see that now. I'm going to blame my iPhone again. I wrote everything while giving a midterm from my phone, and it's a pain to scroll up so I probably barely remembered the title. Okay, thankfully all I did was misinterpret you, as opposed to actually being an ass - that's called growth on my part! :)
posted by scunning at 2:59 PM on April 28, 2011


Jacqueline: "@zarq: Sure, there are better alternatives for some kids, but not for all of them, and many of the alternatives require more resources, time, and know-how than most people are able to offer. If individual families want to make a difference, taking in an extra kid or two is one of the most straightforward ways they can help.

As I mentioned upthread, one of the concerns being raised about the evangelical movement's current adoption campaign is that it may push potential parents to adopt children without adequately preparing them (the parents) for the special circumstances that often arise from an international adoption. The adoption itself can be an emotionally and psychologically difficult process. Raising a self-aware child from an unfamiliar-to-the-parents culture can also be challenging.

There are fundamental issues here that are not being addressed, and one of the most important of those is whether the adopted child's rights and wishes are being respected. Pushing one's followers to try and skirt around regulations which were put in place to make sure a child's best interests are being taken into consideration -- as some of these people are doing -- seems problematic to me. I don't have a problem with evangelicals adopting children. But circumventing the law, and then bragging that the kids are learning about their parents' religion before their culture of origin... that bothers me a great deal.

Besides, most families wealthy enough to adopt internationally are in the social class that tends to send their kids to college, so most of their indoctrination will eventually take quite a beating at the hands of those damn liberal college professors. :D"

Touché! :)

Just think, they just might wind up celebrating Passover in Jesus' name at BYU instead. ;)
posted by zarq at 3:01 PM on April 28, 2011


Ugh, I shouldn't have gotten into this discussion at all, given that I have raging PMS and I'm already very touchy about the issue (i.e., I can't help but read general opposition to international adoptions as someone saying that my sisters would be better off dead or as prostitutes than as members of my family).

I apologize for stirring the pot and am going away now. (Perhaps the mods could ban me for 4 days so I'm not tempted to get sucked into a huge flamewar?)
posted by Jacqueline at 3:01 PM on April 28, 2011


And I should've been more clear that I'm not impugning the motives of individual families who want to adopt, but rather the brokers and the industry that has risen up around international adoption.

One of the most horrifying stories in that article the young rope-rider linked was about a family who adopted their daughter from Cambodia under the impression that she was an orphan; after their daughter learned English, she started telling them all about her mom and dad and brothers and sisters back home. That sucks pretty bad for the kid, for the adoptive parents, and the original parents: pretty much everyone involved except for the agency and orphanage that ended up making money out of the deal.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:08 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I read the post's text as "Evangelion Adoption Crusade" and I thought, "Dear GOD, nerds really DO ruin everything."
posted by jake at 3:09 PM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Jacqueline--- I don't think anyone has said that true orphans need to be left in orphanages? That part of the mission is fine. Christians adopting for the right reasons is awesome and I want every orphan to have a family.

The question is, how many of these kids are orphans, does this movement push child trafficking to increase, is this movement aware that childtrafficking might increase and work HARD to prevent that; and are there attempts made to protect imporverished families from being persuaded out of their children for sale on the adoption market?

That is the concern. I wish there was a similar movement for special needs adoption, fostering, and adopting from domestic foster system.

And also as has been pointed out, if children can be kept with their own families in their home countries or adopted in their home countries efforts should be made to protect those institutions.

what can happen is that since americans can pay more money, they can get priority over the childs biological family or potential adoptive parents in a home country. This is not in the childrens best interests and it's just about money. Not cool.
posted by xarnop at 3:11 PM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Most of the article is about international adoption, which has fuck-all to do with abortion/adoption within the US."

With respect, many of the players being discussed are also influental players in the movement here in the states to persuade more women in unplanned pregnancies to give up their children. The people who sweet talk women out of their babies are good at it because they truly believe poor single women don't deserve their babies. They truly believe they need to get that baby away from the poor single woman ASAP-- and they do NOT believe in improving parenting resources so that her obstacles to parenting could be adequately addressed.

Same people. Same movement. Inter-related.
posted by xarnop at 3:15 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The good news is that here in the states there has been effort made to call them on their persuasive tactics. They've shifted to denying persuasion tactics, but they still teach them to their adoption counselors while claiming their tactics are "non-biased".

If you look at the material presented words like "positive, empowering, meaningful, beautiful" are placed next to the adoption option while words like, "difficult, challenging, overwhelming" are placed next to parenting.

They present adoption as the only REAL solution to give the child a beautiful life and they say, "But we are non-biased and it's truly up to you"

They know what they are doing when they do this, by the way. Their marketing researchers developed it. And the sales people sell adoption to pregnant women best when they truly believe they are being non-biased.

It's not the case though.
posted by xarnop at 3:19 PM on April 28, 2011


Overseas, the moms are completely unprotected from these tactics. Heck often the moms don't even speak english and don't know what they're signing. It's ridiculously easy to get children from poor women for sale on the adoption market if you know what you're doing. And that is scary.
posted by xarnop at 3:21 PM on April 28, 2011


With respect, many of the players being discussed are also influental players in the movement here in the states to persuade more women in unplanned pregnancies to give up their children.

I didn't see that discussed in the article in this post. If you have material to link in this thread talking about that, I'd love to see it linked here so I could read it.

Whether it's international or local women being talked out of their children, it's ugly. But I didn't see anything in this article talking about what you're talking about.
posted by hippybear at 3:22 PM on April 28, 2011


hippybear: I do end up wishing there was a greater concern for children needing care in the US by these groups. Do your good works close to home, etc etc.

I do remember one family from when I was working in an elementary school which adopted three siblings from Russia. There was a creepy vibe about the whole thing which came from the mother, sort of like she'd bagged some exotic trophies or something. She'd never introduce the children as her own, but always "my adopted Russian son" or whatever, and seemed to bask in the attention she got within the country club community for having done this adoption. I can't speak to her real motivations, obviously, but from the outside it just felt odd.


I know you were only offering one example of weird adoptions, but I'll toss out another, for what it's worth.

My parents adopted my little sister from Russia when she was six. She is ten years younger than me, and 7 years younger than my brother. My parents realized they could support a 3rd child, and my mom wanted a daughter, but she was getting old for child bearing, so I think adoption fit a number of criteria. Unfortunately, adopting from the United States at that time didn't sound as feasible or straight-forward as adopting from Russia, and my parents wanted a sibling who could blend into the family, more or less.

We first saw her as a kid on a video tape, one of many children at a particular orphanage. That part of the whole adoption process was unnerving to me, as a teenager at the time and not terribly for or against this specific adoption at the time. From what I saw, my parents spent a bunch of time and money on the process, flying out to Russia to finish the paperwork, returning with a shy, tired little girl who knew no English.

We had grand notions of learning Russian before she came, but we didn't get too deep into the Russian phrase book we had. So she learned English (and American culture) by immersion, though we had two tutors who knew Russian help her with her school work in her first years with our family. She had odd little speech eccentricities that have mostly disappeared in the 15+ years she has lived in California.

My family went back to Russia when my sister was a teenager, as part a vacation, and part a chance to visit my sister's biological grandmother, the lady who largely raised my sister. My sister was in the orphanage because her parents were drug addicts, and her grandmother was getting too old to care for her full-time. Seeing Russia was nice, but seeing my sister's little babushka was amazing. Her babushka didn't have much money at all and lived in a tiny apartment, but she had a gift for my sister, and made a large meal for my family. We ate in her living room and talked to her through a translator, and Babushka told my sister about her family while looking through a little photo album.

Returning to the US, a nice lady checked our passports and chatted with us about how my brother looked like my mom, and I looked like my dad. My sister, the lady paused, well... she looked like my mother. We didn't laugh then, and kept walking through the airport, laughing later about the poor lady trying to figure out how my sister fit in.

My sister is now 21, married to a great guy from Mexico. She's more American than I am in some ways, raised on pop culture in ways I've avoided or ignored. She loved The Cosby Show and Threes Company, staying up late watching re-run marathons. She has definite personality traits from my parents, which is weird to experience. My sister had a rocky few years when she was a teenager, school was tough and she probably won't go to a 4-year college like my brother and I have, but she's a responsible adult now, as much as you can expect from your average 21 year old.

My family isn't really that religious, and my sister definitely is not, but that wasn't my point. It was a rambling reply to hippybear's example of the country club mother with her adopted Russian kids.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:24 PM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


You're right that the comparison is loose. In fact the Chuck, head of NCFA who is responsible for the heinous infant adoption awareness training program was actually calling out the "badness" of these evangelicals.

Paints his dirty dealings in a better light I suppose. The issues are interrelated to me because the larger portion of adoption agencies are Christian with a mission of increasing adoptions. But that could seem like a loose relationship to some.

“We’re killing ourselves with these ethical lapses,” says Chuck Johnson, president of the secular adoption lobby group the National Council for Adoption (NCFA). “I think Christians are the worst at this sometimes, about the ends justifying the means. ‘I will do anything to save this one child’s life’; ‘I will falsify a visa application if I have to.’”

In early 2010, Johnson told me, NCFA held an online ethics seminar that drew roughly twenty-five representatives from religious and secular adoption agencies. As part of the webinar, NCFA took a blind poll of participants’ responses to various ethical situations. Either through ignorance or a willingness to bend the rules, 20–30 percent of agency representatives gave answers that were tantamount to committing visa fraud or other serious violations. “You’ll hear people saying, I’m following God’s law, not man’s laws,” Johnson says"
posted by xarnop at 3:27 PM on April 28, 2011


I am an adoptive parent in the United States. I chose an open domestic adoption as it was the only option that made emotional and ethical sense to me. I say that to explain where I am coming from, not to judge the choices of others. And I feel compelled to mention that some adopted children of evangelicals have died as a result of their parents' adherence to the tenets of Christian Discipline.
posted by Morpeth at 7:01 PM on April 28, 2011


How about a little curiosity about people who have different views as opposed to being nasty and judgemental?

Sorry, I've known a few too many Evangelicals for that. I guess I forgot that line about "Judge not unless ye be an Evangelical Christian."

Anyway, my apologies for being less than enthusiastic about the evangelicals wanting to bring up another kids that believe gays should burn, that evolution is a plot by Satan, and that global climate change is a socialist conspiracy. I guess I forgot that we need more of that Christian tolerance.
posted by happyroach at 7:38 PM on April 28, 2011


I need to step up to defend Gladney (as mentioned upthread by xarnop), one of the oldest adoption agencies in the US. We used them in our international adoption from country X, where they coordinated with an in-country clinic for young single mothers. The women received free pre-natal care and general health care, along with counseling, and they had the option, should they so desire, to choose to give up their child for adoption.

The number of women who actually did decide to give up their child was about one in six. We had to wait almost two years before a child was available. So, it's doubtful how much pressure was really applied to these women. I'm sure that some pressure was there, but we visited the clinic and spoke with the director and it all seemed pretty legit, as best we could tell. Oh, and did I mention the one in six?

Here in the US, Gladney runs its own free dormitory in Forth Worth, TX, for pregnant women. You can learn about it by going to the Gladney website, adoptionsbygladney.com, and reading about the Gladney Center For Adoption. Given that "adoption" appears all over the website and all over the building itself, can anyone express any surprise that the counselers there are recommending adoption to the young women?

I don't know the numbers for Gladney's Fort Worth center, but nationwide I believe that about one in four pregnant women in the adoption process decide not to finalize it (although it depends on how you do the count; another source I found said one in two). I don't see much of a hard sell in these numbers; given that so many women today are already raising their children as single parents, I have to believe that a woman who is giving up her child for adoption is making a reasonably informed choice.
posted by math at 8:03 PM on April 28, 2011


Sorry Math, have to disagree. My mother lost a child to Gladney (me) and lived there. Also a friend of mine stayed there 9 years ago and they were still up to the same routine. How it works is they used the research of women who had already relinquish to find out what pushed them over the edge to believe they weren't good enough to parent.

Then they carefully created a strategy that would use the words like "empowerment," and "choice" along with positive descriptions of adoption and negative research about the effects of parenting alongside.

They ask women to do things like write out a list of things they have to offer vs the adoptive parents.

Hmm, who'se going to win that little exercise hmmm?

They heavily emphasis that they are "non-biased" and this is a "woman's choice" and that she must determine if she is "willing to do the right thing for her child" and that it is "up to her whether she is strong enough to choose adoption."

The way they design their counseling it pretty much obliterates the possibility that a smart young girl would believe there is any possibility she could really be a good parent. They encourage women who stay in their maternity home NOT TO WORK. NOT TO HAVE A PARENTING PLAN IN THE EVENT SHE CHOOSES TO PARENT AFTER THE BIRTH.

They encourage her to cut off contact with friends and family who "do not support her adoption plan." ie... who still believe in her and would help her parent.

During this process is when they help her find her "momen of truth" when she realizes she has no choice but to place because quite literally, through their careful guidance, she now has no job and no place to live.

The only hope she has of changing her mind is if her parents or someone else in her life is willing to take her in. My mother wanted to change her mind after I was born. She called her mother and begged.

When my mother went into labor they made her go through the entire process without drugs. Then when my head crowned they put her to sleep and pulled me out with tongs. She woke up alone in a room without me.

They changed quite a bit due to mothers presenting how they were treated (not because they actually care about the mothers they are destroying). when my friend stayed there they "let" her see her baby and participating in a handing over ceremony.

Then the adoptive parents closed the adoption. She's in hell. They kept her story up on their website, the story she wrote jsut after the adoption regurgitating all the stuff they had brainwashed her with, "This is beautiful, everyone lovees me, I feel so supported!"

She requested they take her story down after they destroyed her and it took them two years to take it down. She is heartbroken.

Seriously. Fuck Gladney.
posted by xarnop at 8:37 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is the basis of the NCFA's research project on firstmoms:

"After working through their fears and conflicts, birthmothers choose adoption because they believe that it is best for their children. They realize that adoption is not abandonment; it is a loving, responsible act. By choosing what is best for their children, birthmothers see themselves as good mothers. Instead of feeling like bad mothers for abandoning children or “giving them away,” they now begin to see that placing their children with loving couples is what it means for them to be good mothers. They redeem themselves, transforming their mistakes into positive outcomes. Adoption allows them to recover their self-esteem, restore their identity, and renew their dreams and goals."

Adoption is what it means for them to be good mothers? What does that say about women who parent? Adoption is doing what is best for their children? Then what is parenting? Adoption is a responsible act? Then what is parenting?

Everything about their counseling inherently states that parenting is irresponsable, uncaring, and unintelligent. They hand out pamphlets about how "intelligent girls choose adoption"!

They lure women in with the promise of "non-biased compassionate support." They understand. They know it's hard. They know she doesn't have a lot of support. They are they for her. They know how to help her. They will empower her to make her own choice. If she's not strong enough to do the right thing, they will forgive because they are good christians. But they will help her see what she really needs to do if she listens to heart and does what's right. She must put her child first. She must think about what's best for her child. She must give her child the best environment possible and think about the money involved in raising a child. Think about all the needs her child has. And what she has to offer. And make the responsible choice.

That's right sign right here. Yes I see you're sobbing, it's the right thing, God will be proud of you. No you probably won't recover but think about your plan, think about what's right for your child. Think about the right thing. That's right you know you're not good enough right? We think so too, just sign here.There we go. Good job.
posted by xarnop at 8:56 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's empowering women right there, lemme tell you.
posted by xarnop at 8:57 PM on April 28, 2011


Ahh, for Christ's sake...
posted by XhaustedProphet at 9:18 PM on April 28, 2011


Your testimony is compelling, xarnop, and I thank you for sharing such intimate and painful details about your past. It reminds me, too, that adoption is at the center a tragedy, because it means that a man and a woman are unable to care for the child that they brought into the world.

None the less, I stand by my original post in support of Gladney. Partly because of my own personal experience, and partly because I believe that one goes to an adoption center because one is intending to give up a child for adoption. And yes, it can be tragic and messy, but it can also lead to a better home for the child. There are always going to be women (and men) who for reasons of poverty or temperment or illness or God knows what reason, who are unable/unwilling to parent a child. And then there are other families who are able and willing to parent that child.

Oh, there's plenty of tragedy without adoption, by the way. I can think of another devastating example from my own experience, of a young teen being browbeaten by her parents into getting an abortion because having a child at such a young age would ruin her life. How much free will does a high school girl really have in a situation like that?

In a perfect world, everyone would have the support and resources to raise their children should they so desire, and birth control would be 100% effective, and as long as we're talking about a perfect world, everyone who has children will want them and love them forever.

This is not that world. And I'm glad that in this world, a woman can go to Gladney and give up her child to a loving home. Because the alternative, a world like ours without places like Gladney? That terrifies me.
posted by math at 9:56 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


So if a woman considers adoption she's should be coerced into adoption because "it's better for the child anyway?"
posted by xarnop at 10:02 PM on April 28, 2011


If a teenagers parents drop her off at an agency to live, it doesn't matter what they say or do to her after? So if she was raped to begin with she gets to deal with that and society swooping in and taking the child to make some better of couple happy--- but it's good for the child so who cares how that destroys her right?

We couldn't just, you know, use some of the research we've been doing on what helps teens have succesful parenting outcomes and assist teens with learning what it means to be parents? Particularly the teens who have already identified that they are concerned about the effects of teen/single parenting on their child and want to create the best environment possible?
posted by xarnop at 10:08 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is well worth the read. By an international adoptee about being "Better off" speaking to her Taiwan mother.

"I want to tell her it’s okay. I want to tell her I know you couldn’t have done this. I want to tell her adoption isn’t everything. I want to argue You would have been a good mother to me. I want to argue I wouldn’t have been sad about something I would have never had the chance to realize.

I so badly want to say “Wo xiang ni jiu yang wo” – I wish you could have raised me."
posted by xarnop at 12:18 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, I acknowledge the ambiguity in adoption. And I've read the "Better off" blog (and many others, along with books by grown-up adoptees, and many other articles such as "The Lie We Love"). Many of them (including the blog by Mei-Ling referenced by xarnop above) talk honestly about this ambiguity and about their conflicted feelings towards their birth parents, their adoptive parents, and the entire idea of adoption.

And yes, there have been and continue to be many problems with adoption, with people's attitudes towards adoption, and with the way it's currently being run.

But I still believe, and I believe that the evidence supports this, that adoption (properly regulated, and keeping in mind the tragic and difficult circumstances involved) is still, in the balance, a net good. And I continue to support it.
posted by math at 6:14 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


You missed the point. I never said I was against adoption. I said I was against exploitation of women who need support to help parent their children.

Are you for that? Because Gladney is.

If you are for the destruction of women so you can take their babies? Then you are evil. If a woman doesn't want her baby or is dangerous for her baby, fine. But that is not how it's set up.

It's set up to get a loving mother who wants her child out of the way so the rich people can profit.
posted by xarnop at 7:29 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I gotta say, I find personal attacks to be not all that persuasive in gaining supporters for your argument.
posted by palomar at 7:36 AM on April 29, 2011


If you read specifically I said that supporting the destruction of women to take their babies is evil. I did not specifically call math evil as I am hoping that is not his/her believe and he/she will elaborate their perspective to clarify.
posted by xarnop at 7:39 AM on April 29, 2011


I'm reading all your posts as specifically as I can, xarnop, and it's clear that this issue is very important to you. It's also very clear that you're angry. Posting angry is never a good idea.
posted by palomar at 7:46 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


That is the reason that no first moms are ever able to speak about their experiences in public places. I can take a breath and I can walk away but when I come back and see that society still doesn't care that women who lose children in this way face PTSD and lifelong grief and social isolation and the sobbing. God the sobbing.

And no matter what when you try to talk about something that makes you shake and barely be able to see when you talk to a public that thinks you are meaningless so long as they can get your child from you--- there is no amount of walking away and coming back that will take away the amount of hurt that exists to know that you are literally expendable garbage in the minds of human beings who want to take your child.

And these conversations need to happen because the reason we suffer in silence is because no one knows. Or maybe no one cares. That's fine too, but I will not stiffle my voice if I get an opportunity to speak unless it is requested by such people. None of us can speak.

We try, we try to create groups and create support and make change, but we are all so broken and in so much pain. We can't make these changes when thinking about this stuff is bad for us and makes all the pain come up.

But yet we have to because no one else will. If the world doesn't care that's fine, I'll contunue struggling along and trying to set up better programs for moms in unplanned pregnancy even though the world is actively working against that.
posted by xarnop at 7:57 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


xarnop, what I'm trying to say is that I think you would make more allies here, and find more help for your fight, if when people say they support organizations like Gladney, that you not call them evil. Because that's how that read. You may have intended to call Gladney evil, but it looked more like you were calling a fellow MeFite evil. That's all I'm saying. By no means am I asking you to be quiet. I'm just asking for a little less invective toward people who are trying to engage you in discussion.
posted by palomar at 8:05 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I apologize for the directive nature of "then you are evil." I believe in compassion and forgiveness. I don't believe that the kind of exploitation that happens sometimes knowingly in adoption is something that can't be forgiven or understood in the context of "Well that what we thought we should do as a society, we saw people suffering, but we just didn't believe it was possible or worthwhile to try to prevent that suffering."

That being said, the ways these women are treated are not right. No one should be treated as a person whose fate is meaningless so long as their child is delivered to people with more money/resources/support. While large amounts of money are being passed around. And no one is considered spending their career on helping these women get the resources they need instead of convincing them to give up their children.
posted by xarnop at 8:13 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


That being said, the ways these women are treated are not right. No one should be treated as a person whose fate is meaningless so long as their child is delivered to people with more money/resources/support.

I believe everyone agrees on that point. I think the disconnect is: while it is no doubt true that there are instances of Gladney carrying out abusive practices, it may be an open question as to the extent of their abusive practices. You are finding examples of bad cases; however, math has found examples of good cases. To me, this indicates that there is some bit of an open question as to whether Gladney is more "good" than "bad," or vice versa.

Rather than focusing on the name of the agency itself and trying to declare whether it is wholly good or wholly evil, perhaps it may be best to focus on the exploitation itself, no matter where it is found. We can all agree that it is something prospective adoptive parents should be on guard for. However, my fear is that if we point at one agency and saying "shun them!" that only lulls prospective parents into a false sense of security that all they need to do is avoid that one agency -- and they don't look closely at any others. The fact is, exploitive adoption agents can be found anywhere. Just as legal, free, positively-handled adoptions can be found anywhere.

So perhaps "be on guard against exploitation" is the best argument to make, as opposed to "be on guard against Gladney".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:23 AM on April 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Honestly, xarnop, who is going to say "[I am] for the destruction of women so [I] can take their babies?" I think we can agree that nobody in their right mind would say that or would believe that.

But are there cases in which that happens? It seems, from your story (and those of others that I've read) that this is true, and it breaks my heart, it really does.

Adoption is in a continual process of reform. Take international adoptions, which I am more familiar with. Just three years ago, the US (finally!) began acting under the Hague Convention on International Adoption, which sets up a rigorous accreditation process and avoids some of the ethical lapses that have occurred in the past. This is a movement in the opposite direction from those of the evangelicals mentioned in the original post, who want to see a more lax and expedited process. Myself, I'm in favor of the Hague Convention, and I'm pleased to note that Gladney was one of the first US agencies to become accredited under this new process.

And hey, the more that we hear from people like you, xarnop, and from others involved in adoption (such as myself), the more we can all become better aware of what goes on in adoptions. It isn't always pretty. It damn well should not lead to the exploitation of pregnant women, or of children, or of anyone. It should be in a process of continual improvement. Hopefully, as we all get better at this, we will be able to arrive at a place where we can give the appropriate support to all those women who want to keep their children, and where we can find an appropriate home for all those children who need parents. On this, I hope, we agree.
posted by math at 8:23 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, and what EmpressCalipygos said.
posted by math at 8:24 AM on April 29, 2011


"It isn't always pretty. It damn well should not lead to the exploitation of pregnant women, or of children, or of anyone."

I needed to hear you say this, and I thank you deeply for saying it. When people say, "But whatever gladney does is fine" then I think you are saying what happened to my mom is fine. She is so broken. In her eyes is pain. The exploitation still happens.

I think things can change and I think someone less emotional than I am would be better at articulating that, but there really aren't many of us who can even let ourselves think about it at all, much less talk about it and go into that space with people who don't really know what you're talking about or what the pain is that's overwhelming you.

I thank anyone who has read my words as convoluded as I get and tried to understand what I am saying and hear. I feel compassion for everyone and I love my adoptive parents. But there is a lot of exploitation that still happens and I do think there is more to do (as far as making the world a better place and alleviating suffering, there will always be more to do).

Thank you for anyone who has read, and I apologize that I am often blindsided by difficult emotions on this topic. I try really hard not to be because it is so important to me.
posted by xarnop at 8:34 AM on April 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


For anyone wondering what is up with the incoherant rambling and upsettness: I tried to clarify my story here.I will try to be careful about entering into any future conversations on adoption here as I certainly don't want to hurt feelings or offend and aplogize if I've done so.
posted by xarnop at 11:15 AM on April 29, 2011


Not to worry, xarnop. I enjoyed our thought-provoking discussion, and I'm glad that we were able to find common ground.

Group hug, everyone!!
posted by math at 3:21 PM on April 29, 2011


LOL indeed. We can see from my blog what usually happens (were anonymous comments allowed here we would get to have long conversations about sluts keeping their legs closed and crackwhores.) So delightful to have avoided that, as much fun as that one is!

: ) i think the hardest conversations are often the most worth having, especially when we learn from each other and listen.
posted by xarnop at 3:50 PM on April 29, 2011


xarnop: you have such passion and knowledge. If you were to refine your approach and learn how to keep things from becoming too emotionally involved while you share, you could be a very powerful advocate for the cause which matters so much to you.

I encourage you to continue to express yourself and learn from each sharing experience. The potential for you to do large amounts of good is huge, and I would welcome seeing you make an impact.
posted by hippybear at 4:23 PM on April 29, 2011


gusandrews: "Currently re-reading Octavia Butler's future-dystopia Parable of the Talents, which has already been wigging me out with its prescience about the American economy and decline of social services. Book hinges on the stealing of children by fundamentalists. We're living in Octavia Butler's end times, people. /end hysterical handwaving"

I don't know about that. Let's check out some excerpts from the book on Amazon:
People here in the neighborhood are saying she had no business going to Mars, anyway. All that money wasted on another crazy space trip when so many people here on earth can't afford water, food, or shelter.
This is prescient? Please, people have been saying that for ye--
[President-elect] Donner has a plan for putting people back to work. He hopes to get laws changed, suspend "overly restrictive" minimum wage, environmental, and worker protection laws for those employers willing to take on homeless employees and provide them with training and adequate room and board.
Um, sure, but that's been the standard Republican playbook for--
Tornadoes are smashing hell out of Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, and two or three other states. Three hundred people dead so far.
AAAAHH
posted by Rhaomi at 12:18 AM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Very briefly to add as someone who has adopted children who were trafficked for adoption in Cambodia, and is now working with families at risk to prevent trafficking, including adoption - money is the answer to about 90% of international adoption.

The supply of healthy infants ethically and legally relinquished for adoption is a fraction of the demand. The kids who can't be placed locally in developing countries are usually older sibling groups or abused kids, and it makes more sense to adopt foster kids with similar issues and a shared language and culture, than to go international without a lot of prep.

Money drives the system, and ends up (South Korea is painfully obvious) diverting attention and resources from the reasons these kids are placed for adoption or strengthening local support for local adoptions.

Religion's funny. I adopted as an atheist, and we tried to keep our kids' religious practices with visiting temples and a Buddhist/Taoist altar. Turned out, their family was even less religious than us *g*. When we joined the Orthodox church, my two younger kids were baptised, but our church refused to baptise the older ones as they were considered of age to decide for themselves. They come with us to church, and the oldest is at Catholic church and the Buddhist temples as well while she figures out what she believes.

Religion with adoption is complicated, because a major part of parenting is teaching moral and cultural values. But mutual respect has worked for us so far.

That said - I have several wonderful evangelical christian friends who adopted internationally and are amazing. They have complicated open adoptions like ours and it really comes down to the people individually. The evangelical church push is more ghastly adoption business, but the individual stories will range from idiots like Laura Silsby to great parents like my friends. Adoption is hard and complicated, and in a perfect world, would happen rarely and with the child's best interests at the heart.

But the article, IMO, both understates how awful some of the adoption liars and creeps are, and over generalises on religion. It's a good start though. I highly, highly recommend the EJ Graff piece referenced above. And reading adult adoptee and first family blogs over adoptive parent blogs. We get too much press already. Bastard Nation and Pound Pup Legacy are good too.
posted by viggorlijah at 8:54 AM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was a young dumb christian in high school. My brother and I enjoyed going on little "service missions" to the poorer parts of Appalachia to help repair rundown houses. It's called Appalachian Service Project, I'm sure it's still is around.

We only traveled a couple hundred miles to be there. It was fun because it was with other kids our age, we go to see a beautiful part of the country. But every time we went my dad had to have a good laugh at us and wonder aloud just why the fuck we never found the time and inclination to help the poor people who were literally my neighbors in the same way, all the rest of the year. You know, like how Jesus preached.

He was right.
That's my problem with Christian overseas adoption programs. There are enough needy children in your area to go around.
It's totally easier to get your church to donate funds to a more exotic good-works program. But you're doing it wrong.
posted by kid_twist at 10:18 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Adoption programs stimulate child removals from families who have violated the one child policy and can't pay:

In Hunan Family Planning turns to plunder.
"Indeed, a Caixin investigation found that children in many parts of Hunan have been sold in recent years and wound up, sometimes with help from document forgers and complacent authorities, being raised by overseas families who think they adopted Chinese orphans.
In some cases, child-selling revenues as well as social support compensation fees paid by Hunan parents who break one-child rules have become important sources of income for local governments in poor parts of the province.

Initially, the fee was 3,000 to 4,000 yuan per child. But a few years, local officials said, the penalty rose to 10,000 yuan and sometimes more. In addition, for at least the past decade, family planners have been taking children from parents who failed to pay the fee and selling them to orphanages.

The child-selling practice apparently received a stamp of official support from Longhui officials, who went the extra mile to enforce family planning rules. For example, over the years the county government has dispatched some 230 cadres to Gaoping as well as area villages to monitor population control activities."

As to how American's willingness to pay hefty adoption fees affects social policy toward Chinese citizens adopting their own orphans?

"Yuan Chaorong is a Gaoping farmer who found an abandoned baby girl on a street in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, in 2004. At the time, he was an unmarried migrant worker at a furniture factory.

Yuan brought the girl home, named her Yuan Qingli, and told his village chief back in Hunan that he wanted to adopt her as his daughter. His plan called for the chief to help him with the adoption paperwork, while he wanted an aunt to raise the child in her home with 350 yuan a month from Yuan's factory salary.

All went well until the next year, when Yuan learned that five staffers from the local family planning agency had broken into his aunt's home and took the child. To get her back, authorities said, the family would have to pay an 8,000 yuan social support compensation fee."

The entire articles is well worth reading. If we want to participate in foreign countries providing "aid" we absolutely MUST consider all the ramifications of that involvement rather than rush in starry eyed to "rescue" one child, and ignoring the implications of such. We often pressume that American life is automatically better for a poor child living with a poor family, therefore INSTEAD OF PROVIDING HUMANITARIAN AID-- we want to yandk all the poor kids and put them with the rich. I think we should reconsider the lengths we are willing to go (or ignoring the actions others have gone to for us) to destroy families in our "saving mission."
posted by xarnop at 10:39 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


And one more excellent post again by Mei-Ling:

Would you have expected your (potential adoptive parents) to fork over $10,000?
"Yes, I am selfish enough that I wish my adoptive parents would have wanted to hand over the money so that I could have stayed with my family. Call me insane, crazy, insensitive, incredulous. But while I intellectually understand one side of the issue (forking over $10,000 being unreasonable), I take the other side on this issue to heart, as it is so very personal.

And I will own up to that. I wish my adoptive parents would have wanted to hand over the support to the parents who could have kept me if not for the money.*

Honestly, all this means is that as the adoptee who once had no voice, I am saying it now: I want my original family. I know I won’t ever have them back, which is where the whole argument stands. Knowing that if I had had them in the first place, I wouldn’t have had my adoptive family."
posted by xarnop at 8:41 AM on May 25, 2011


Could you imagine living with that feeling? In order to say that you love your original family and wish you could have them you feel like you are rejecting your entire life with the family who raised you? Like you're unsure of whether you even have a family because of these feelings? Like you've lost all of your family and you've betrayed everyone and all ties have been lost? In order to honor the family who was not supported to raise you, in order to say that IT'S NOT OK that they were undersupported: you are betraying your entire life and letting go of the love that gave you everything that you grew up with?

It breaks my heart that she feels this way.

Oh ...... yeah. I live with that too.
posted by xarnop at 8:50 AM on May 25, 2011


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