Challenges Facing the Evangelical Orphan/Adoption Movement

Dawn Davenport


Orphan Care Movement encouraging churches to adoptQuestion (I genuinely need an answer). Do any of these Orphan conferences talk about waiting US kids, or are they always about international adoption?

I then received the following email from another adoption education professional:

I was a little surprised to hear you were going to this conference since you are a leading national advocate for adoption education/preparation and this “movement” is not about preparation, it is known for candy-coating adoption to get people to jump on the bandwagon of adoption. I thought this wasn’t what Creating a Family is about.

Then as if to add a cherry on top, I turned on the car radio and heard an NPR Fresh Air interview with Kathryn Joyce, author of a new book that is critical of the orphan care movement– The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption. You can listen to the podcast of the Fresh Air interview, or check out this article in Salon, with the totally non-inflammatory or discriminatory title of “How the Christian right perverts adoption: The evangelical adoption boom is driven by creepy links between the Christian right and a billion-dollar industry“. (Wow, talk about unbiased journalism!)

My Concerns with the Orphan Care Movement

I have expressed my concerns in the past that the larger “Orphan Care Movement” was not focused enough on educating and preparing would-be adopters. Over the years, Creating a Family has heard from a number of families who were drowning post adoption, and felt abandoned by the folks at church who weren’t prepared to help and support them when the going got rough. It’s fair to say that plenty of parents who adopt older kids struggle during the transition regardless of how much preparation they received, but it seemed that some of these people truly didn’t know what they were getting into.

I have also been critical of the abuses in international adoption. Who isn’t?!? I never thought, however, to blame a movement that encourages people to adopt for these abuses. That would be like blaming the locavore/eat-local movement for an outbreak of food poisoning from a local farm. The folks I know in the orphan care movement, both the supporters and well as adopters, are just as interested as the rest of us in ethical adoptions.

Adoption is Not a Happy Ever After Story

Needless to say, after the reception I received and the media focus on the orphan care movement, I was looking forward to the session on “The Biggest Challenges Facing the Orphan Care Movement” with Dr. Russell Moore, Dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and author of Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches, the book that more or less launched the evangelical orphans care movement.  I figured he had his work cut out for him, and he didn’t disappoint.

Dr. Moore talked for an hour and covered a wide variety of topics, but one thing was crystal clear—he was not all about having people jump on the bandwagon of adoption. Here are some of my notes, which are a rough paraphrase that I hurriedly scribbled down.

  • If what you want is a risk-free life—Don’t Adopt!
  • Welcoming someone into your life is an invitation to be hurt.
  • Don’t sentimentalize what it means to be a parent. It’s hard and often unrewarding work.
  • Adoption is not a happily ever after type of story.
  • I spend more of my time talking people out of adopting now than encouraging them to adopt.

Ummm, not much candy-coating or bandwagon jumping going on there.  As much as I’m in favor of painting a fair picture, he went a little far focusing on the negative. I appreciate that he did this to make sure his audience heard that adoption is a lifetime choice that takes a lifetime of commitment, but still…he kind of scared me and I’ve already adopted and almost finished raising them.

In his assessment of the challenges facing the orphans care movement, Dr. Moore did not address the perception that they are primarily focused on “rescuing” poor kids from abroad, so I asked this question in the Q & A part of his session. He acknowledged that they needed to get the message out that the orphans care movement was encouraging all types of adoption. He chuckled when he said that it was sometimes a challenge to get churches to agree on the “right” kind of music, much less the right kind of adoption.

Based on what I saw and heard at Summit 9, the orphan care movement is not in the least focused primarily on international adoption and is totally focused on educating families about what they might be getting into. A quick perusal of the session listings showed an equal, if not greater, focus on providing families for waiting US kids than on adopting from abroad and many session on attachment and struggles of older child adoption. I spoke with several social workers from governmental child welfare agencies that were attending, and they universally sang the praises of churches as a source for families for children in foster care—both for fostering and adopting.

Although I realize this isn’t proof of anything, I couldn’t help but notice that in addition to the black and Asian kids (which may or may not have been internationally adopted) running around at Summit 9, I saw at least five children with Down Syndrome (again, hard to know if they were adopted, and if so, if they were adopted domestically or internationally, but all five were Caucasian.)

The Problem with Pictures

After I asked the question at the session on The Biggest Challenges, a woman came up to me to talk. I wish I had written down her name, but I think she said that she was with Hope For 100. She and her husband are involved primarily with promoting foster care adoption in churches, but she said from a very practical standpoint they struggle with how to visually represent this mission. They can’t use pictures of foster children, and pictures of families created from foster care adoption often don’t look any different from families created by birth. Pictures are a shorthand, and for better or worse, pictures of kids from other countries are an easier shorthand for the orphan care movement. This was not something I had thought of before, and I see her point.

Where I Hope the Orphan Care Movement Moves

At Summit there were a few sessions on what churches can do to prevent orphans in the first place, which is where I hope the focus of this movement moves in the future. We often quote James 1:27 (pure religion is to look after orphans and widows in their distress). I’d love to see more emphasis on looking after the widows—be they actual widows or single moms struggling to hold their families together. Although not well known, the orphans care movement is moving in this direction. Saddleback Church where Rick Warren (The Purpose Driven Life) is pastor has a large program in Rwanda to help families stay together and to promote domestic adoption within Rwanda. This is in addition to the large foster care support program they have in California.

Heaven only knows (pun intended) that the Orphan Care Movement has a wonderfully efficient outreach campaign, but it does seem that they need to get the word out that they are way past being sugar-coating, band wagon jumping advocates of saving foreign orphans through adoption. Consider this blog a step in that direction.

Now I’m curious to hear what are your impressions of the orphan care movement? I wonder if the response I received was universal or just a coincidence.

Image credit: Antonio Viva

07/05/2013 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog | 52 Comments

52 Responses to Challenges Facing the Evangelical Orphan/Adoption Movement

  1. Avatar Elaine Makiej says:

    A nice piece of writing there Missy!

  2. Avatar Leonette says:

    Great blog about perception vs current reality Dawn!! Thank you!!

  3. Avatar Cheryl Norris says:

    Loved the post

  4. Avatar Esther Reno Brunk says:

    Some great thoughts.

  5. Avatar Becca says:

    @Martha Osborne – Question about Rainbow Kids. I am already in process with an agency but I keep looking through your website and seeing all these precious kiddos. We have already paid all of our agency fees to our adoption agency. We are waiting on a referral from Ethiopia. Would we have to start all over with fees and such if we wanted to pursue one of these kids off your website?

  6. Avatar Patty says:

    This is an excellent article, Dawn. Very well said!

  7. Avatar Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for this post! I really wanted to go to this conference, but taking time off of work was not an option. :/ In my opinion, the Evangelical orphan care movement is overall such a positive thing! I do have one comment about something you said at the end.

    “but it does seem that they need to get the word out that they are way past being sugar-coating, band wagon jumping advocates of saving foreign orphans through adoption.”

    I think that those that are focused on orphan care are less into making sure others understand them well, and more into just working for the best of orphans and children, which I like. Even if the whole world thinks they are doing something evil, but are daily helping meet children’s needs and placing them in homes, well then, they’re focusing on the most important thing. I’d rather they focus on the work than the marketing of what they’re doing. 🙂

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Elizabeth, you have a good point. Of course, I’d like to see them get the good “press” they deserve, but in the long run, that’s not the most important thing.

  8. I am standing at my desk applauding. Awesome article.

  9. BooBoo, I agree, but can’t see that the “fault” really lies within the movement. It is up to agencies and churches to prepare and support adoptive families.

  10. Avatar BooBoo says:

    As an evangelical Christian……I totally agree!! I see so many other Christian families who, while I believe are acting in love, are ill prepared for the realities of adoption, especially of special needs adoption. And when the hard times come, somehow they forget the rest of the gospel message and they refuse to change themselves to be the kind of parents their adopted children need. Makes me sad…and furious.

  11. Avatar BooBoo says:

    Agreed, Dawn….100%! I have found, however, that many people are unwilling to embrace the realities despite the attempts of those with experience to educate and support them. There seems to be an attitude of, “In MY family, things will be SO different!!”. NOT as part of “the movement” but in special needs adoption in general. I have seen far more success in families who admit readily that they may not have all the answers and who seek guidance vs. those who hold fast to the “We are different” model.

  12. well received simpmaoga

  13. Why thank you kindly.

  14. Avatar Sue says:

    Dawn, you asked “Now I’m curious to hear what are your impressions of the orphan care movement?”

    As a person who is admittedly not part of the orphan care movement and has truthfully not taken time to educate myself about it much other than what I have heard in the media, I will share my perception (right or wrong) based on the little I know to date.

    When I hear about orphan projects focused on rallying people to adopt children it puts a pit in my stomach. My uneducated gut reaction is that it may propogate this societal idea about adoption that our kids are so lucky we adopted them and saved them from what they imagine would have been horrible lives (or we as adoptees are so lucky to be adopted). Often (but not always) that couldn’t be further from the truth, and it almost surely makes most adoptive parents and children cringe to hear responses like that. Most adoptive parents I know think they are the lucky ones to be able to parent their adopted child. They don’t want strangers telling them how lucky their kids are to have been adopted.

    So, if the orphan care movement has families adopting (or encouraging them to adopt) for reasons other than because they in their hearts want to expand their families and parent more children (e.g. they are doing it as a good deed because it is the “right thing to do”), then I think the children of those adoptions may suffer and it could result in a sense of being indebted, or a charity case. I feel similarly about the “save the frozen embryos” movement.

    I want to believe that the large majority of families adopting (domestic/international, infant/older child) are doing so for primarily selfish reasons – maily because they want to grow their family. An adoptee should not be in a position of feeling less than, or rescued, or like adopting them was an act of charity.

    So, again, I will re-state that those are my perceptions as someone not involved in orphan care nor well educated about its realities.

  15. Avatar Katie says:

    So glad to hear that the Summit/Orphan Care Movement is focusing on preparing parents and supporting them post adoption and all types of adoption (domestic, foster care, as well as international).

  16. Avatar Colleen says:

    Resources I know of and used:Play therapist(small kids)Sexual abuse counselores,(older kids)Crisis advoidance counselors,Transition counselors,ILST(living skills trainer) and community outreach programs are helpful.Hope this is not too much information?!

  17. Avatar Sarah says:

    Sue….I’m right there with you!

  18. Avatar anon AP says:

    I hadn’t heard anything about OCM until very recently, and I have to admit that at first blush it makes me wary. Anything that adds (or risks adding) a tone of rightousness to adoption makes me start to ask why. How does it play out? Is there a goal in some people’s minds of getting a gold star from god for taking on this “obligation” or is it just a support and educational structure with the goal of growing families and providing safe, loving homes for kids? Motivations ultimately will play out in the way families talk about adoption and in the way parents interact with their kids. At least, I think they tend to, and so making sure that the children don’t feel like they are primarily a feather in someone’s cap or an obligation from god seems important to me. As I said, I’m writing from a position of ignorance about the movement as a whole and just thought I’d share my naiive concerns.

    For what it’s worth, I would love to read more about religion and religious language in adoption. I am an atheist, and I find it difficult to know how to respond to people who look at my family and say that our child is god’s gift to us or part of god’s plan or the like. It always makes me want to respond with something like, “and god’s punishment for her birthmother and family?”, which would be snarky, rude, and unhelpful. I know that isn’t how it is meant. However, there’s so much social, human, and just generally earth-bound complexity that led to our child being placed with us that the phrase (and approach) becomes hurtful and simplistic from my perspective. It’s that simplification of the issues, the boiling down of all the knottiness and emotional depth to those few words that make me recoil. It’s right up there with “your child is so lucky”. I know there are many, many people with strong faiths, Christian or not, who are more well-versed, knowledgeable, respectful, and wise than I am when it comes to adoption, and it is a pleasure to learn from them. It’s great that many people gain strength from their faith to help them get through the process and rough patches. I just run into people who do not use language that reflects that depth rather often, and that contributes to my general wariness of religious framing of adoption.

  19. Avatar Heather says:

    Dawn, I am not extending Hana Williams death to the entire Orphan Care Movement, but those parents who already had 6 kids would likely not have adopted without it. I know the movement has evolved (excuse my pun) in recent years, but they adopted to save orphans, not have have more children. The children were never treated well. Those kids were a status symbol for the parents within their faith community. What wonderful people they they were for taking in two special needs older kids. And no one in that faith community did a thing as they were starved and beaten.

    As far as homeschooling, my point is that these children were totally isolated. Homeschooling can be OK, but not when it is used to isolate children so they have no idea how things work in the U.S.. Hana had no one in her life to reach out to. Where a culture is to isolate children and not give them resources, then you are making them more vulnerable to abuse. There was no one to intervene and trust me had she been in public school a teacher or another adult would have noticed her weight loss and bruises. They would have know that her brother was not being taught sign language. Homeschooling to control children, limit their exposure to others, and hide abuse is not OK. Once again not saying most Evangelical Christian homeschoolers are doing this, but there are too many examples with Hana Williams being one.

  20. Avatar Jerry Clarke says:

    I really object to the comment that unless I believe in a God, I won’t be able to cope with adopting. It’s great that people of faith want to adopt, but please don’t imply that you’re better at it than non-believers.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Jerry, I may have misread the person you quote, but I read her to say that “she” wouldn’t be able to cope without her belief in God.

  21. Avatar Pat Johnston says:

    Thank you, Dawn. I appreciate your report from the Summit–especially because I had posted that first question you got! I wonder how to balance what you say you saw at the Summit (because I absolutely respect your judgment!) with the book The Child Catchers commenting on some of the very programs you mention. Growth since the author explored and reported??

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      I should first say that I haven’t read the Joyce’s book, although I’ve been told that she quotes from me extensively. I thought the Fresh Air interview with her was good and fairly balanced, although it’s been a while since I heard it. I don’t know exactly how to balance what I saw at the Summit Conference with her book. If she is saying that the Orphan Care Movement (“OCM”) is primarily encouraging folks to adopt internationally, then I would say that she is just plain wrong and did not do very extensive research, or has not updated her research. And yes, there likely has been growth in this area, although many of the OCM foster adoption/care support initiatives that I know about have been in place for a number of years. I honestly don’t know exactly what the flavor of prior OCM conferences was like.

      She might, however, intentionally be focusing on only one aspect of the greater Orphan Care Movement, and she might make that clear in the book. If so, I still think she is off. It seems to me that she is confusing cause and effect. Yes, there is a movement to encourage Christians to act out their faith in a very real way by adopting, including international adoption. Yes, there are abuses in international adoption. No, the abuses in international adoption are not caused by the encouragement of the Evangelical churches for people to adopt. I’d love to hear what others have to say.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      I should add that we are reaching out to Kathryn Joyce to invite her to be a guest on the Creating a Family show. Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter to find out more info on if and when. You can sign up at the bottom of the blog or on the top left side of this page.

  22. The orphan care ministry movement is very involved in promoting foster care and foster-care-to-adoption. In fact, this year the Carolina Christian Alliance for Orphans, a chapter of the Alliance, was involved in conferences and workshops here in South Carolina specifically geared toward those interested in adopting children through the foster care system. Usually these children from the US are not called “orphans,” but their needs are much the same as any orphan living in another country.

    Regarding adoptive families involved in the orphan care movement not getting enough education: as long as families are adopting through reputable placing and home study agencies, the families are required to have extensive education. Those adoptive parents who bypass these requirements, do so because of lack of laws requiring such. It is not the orphan care movement that has created less-than-well-educated families; it is the lack of state and federal regulations enforcing such educational standards for prospective adoptive parents.

  23. Avatar Heather says:

    I agree with anonymous. Adoption should be about raising a child, not improving your karmic/spiritual balance sheet. The righteousness I see on some blogs is very unappealing, and leaves me concerned for their kids (both bio and adopted). How do you develop a healthy self-esteem if you were raised to believe you were rescued?

  24. Avatar anon says:

    As a left leaning, non-Christian (non-religious) adoptive mom, I find myself a bit overwhelmed with all the God talk in adoption circles. This is an elephant in the room when it comes to adoption for me, and I’m glad you brought it up. I want to be tolerant of fellow adoptive families, but any movement that uses a top-down approach to promote adoption makes me nervous, frankly. The only agenda that adoptive parents should have is that they want to raise a child. Period. Charity does not belong in family building. But I know that Christians are not a monolithic set and that I shouldn’t confuse the actions of a few fringe members with the whole group, and that for many adoption is more nuanced than “I’m adopting because God told me to” – although I do hear that online. A LOT. I find this subject fascinating, though, and will do some more reading on it. I’m happy to hear the ‘orphan movement’ is shifting to a whole-family focus.

    I read Joyce’s book, and she quotes Dawn’s post about Korean adoption very heavily in the last chapter. Anyone who followed or commented might want to check it out…You might find yourself quoted there.

  25. Avatar mary beth says:

    I think the difference between the Church movement and the secular movement is that Christians have a mandate whereas, the general public are moved by emotions. If emotions is where you are starting from, the road will be bumpy but there will be no peace. If, as a Christian, I am following God’s plan for my life, than those bumps are part of the plan. I have started advocating because I believe God is calling me too. He gives each of us a piece of the puzzle and never more than we can handle.

  26. Avatar Heather says:

    I think one of criticisms of the Orphan Care Movement is some of these families adopt kids, older kids with special needs and then isolate them from the larger society. They are home schooled, they are not given access to public resources such as therapies or IEPs. These children are forced to assimilate into extremely rigid households completely different than they were raised with. They are disciplined harshly and corporately. What happened to Hana Williams not only falls on her parents, her siblings, but also the Orphan Care Movement that made her adoption a status symbol for the family’s church. Then when things went bad no one from the church called the authorities. Those kids were totally isolated except for the church, yet the members of the church who testified that things weren’t going well just turned a blind eye. They are partially responsible for her death and the torture of her brother. I know this might offend people, but it is the truth.

  27. Avatar Tara says:

    I also attended this conference (third year in a row) as an adoption professional (who presented a breakout), adoptive parent, and adopted person. I appreciate your taking the time to write out the notes to Dr. Moore’s session, as I was unable to attend his session. It brings me encouragement to know that he is presenting the challenges of adoptive parenting.

    It is great that there are sessions that focus on education in addition to caring for children in other ways than international adoption. I also always appreciate the sessions on “When Helping Hurts”, which underlines some of the complexities within issues of poverty, adoption, and beyond.

    The conference itself includes many great sessions, conversations, and people. I am grateful for those that truly care for children without families and who do all they can to educate themselves on how best to support and help.

    What troubles me is the “rescue” mentality present at the conference. I heard that word many times, and I think it can have an effect that is unhelpful and downright dangerous when it comes to adoption. To rescue a child is a dangerous motivation to adopt, and it also implies that one owes the rescuer something.

    Additionally, the term “Orphan Care Movement” can be unhelpful. I cannot speak for all adult adopted persons, but as someone who was once orphaned, I believe that I was/am more than a “movement”. When I hear movement, I think of service projects or charities or beyond. And frankly, when I’m at that conference, sometimes I feel that others believe orphan care, including adoption, is merely a service project or charity or something to check off the “do-good” or “Christian” list. There were many times I wanted to interject that orphans and adopted children/people are PEOPLE. Not simply statistics, projects, or simply faces. To me a movement can also be confused as a trend, some of which I believe is happening in the Christian church. In my mind, “movement” also connotes something that I must join in. Like the movement of eating healthier or homeschooling or recycling. I’m not sure that orphan care, especially adoption, should be reduced to a “movement”. Language is so powerful.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Tara, I also kind of cringe at the word “movement”, but hadn’t thought through why. Thank you for doing the thinking for me. 🙂 In fairness, I don’t necessarily think that the word “movement” came from Christian Alliance for Orphans or anyone associated with the push to encourage Christians to adopt. Am I wrong there? I know that I use the word “movement” because it capture the whole of what I’m trying to talk about, rather than specific efforts.

  28. Thanks for sharing this, Dawn. I am really glad you were able to be at Summit. I appreciate your response to the questions/criticism of the Christian orphan care movement, too. Of course, there is always great need in any movement for self-critique and maturation…and I hope that even those criticizing the movement can see that happening.

    I think you are 100% correct in that the movement is truly and robustly about a broad diversity of expressions of caring for orphans–including adoption, but also fully encompassing foster care, global orphan care, mentoring, and much more. I trust anyone at Summit saw that reflected in every aspect of the conference.

    I do agree with you desire, too, to see “family preservation” continue to grow as a strong expression of that as well. (This is why “Family Preservation” is stated as one of the “Core Principles” of the Christian Alliance for Orphans.)

    It would be accurate to say that the large majority of the work done by U.S.-based Christian organizations overseas (from micro-finance and community development to health and education programs) is much less about “orphan care” than about “family preservation”–even thought they don’t label themselves as “family preservation” or “orphan-and-widow care.”

    For example, I serve on the board of one micro-finance organization working in Africa, and although we never describe ourselves as being an expression of orphan and/or widow-care or “family preservation”, we often see widows, single mothers and other struggling families thriving as a result of participation in the programs. That said, I think we can do more to ensure that we all understand “family preservation” to be unequivocally part of the continuum of responses to the needs of orphans worldwide.

    In all this, Dawn, thank you so much for the vitally important work you continue to do in helping people catch a vision for caring for kids…and preparing them to do so wisely and well!

  29. Avatar Lili says:

    Our church has an orphan care ministry. However, the emphasis is foster care, foster adopt, respite care for foster and adoptive families AND families in crisis. Our church also works with and gets referrals directly from DFS regarding families in crisis that need help and mentoring to keep them OUT of the system. Really, those of us who have adopted internationally are few and far between. Last week Compassion International as promoted and CI volunteers were in the lobby after church to talk with potential sponsors. I think the media sees what they want to see.

  30. Avatar Rachel says:

    This was my first time attending the Summit and I must say one of the biggest things I was struck with was how much it didn’t candy coat adoption. In fact, in some cases it did the opposite as you pointed out. I really appreciated that and was forever changed by this Summit. I am thankful there are many people out there doing what God has called them to do… and though anyone who adopts will get criticized by some group, it is usually those not doing anything that tend to lend the most criticism. By my estimations, the orphan ministry movement has come a long way and I’m thankful to have the support.

  31. Avatar Jessica says:

    Thanks for the summary of the Summit 9 conference. I’ve been curious to learn what’s the most current thinking on the “orphan care” movement by the Evangelical community, and appreciate your first-hand report. Sounds as if the movement is moving in a positive and realistic direction.

    Thank you again.~

  32. Avatar Cindi Campbell says:

    I believe some of the criticism of the orphan care movement is unfair and unwarranted. Christians for years have been supporting families in other nations in their struggle to stay together by way of schooling, feeding programs, and after school programs. The Christian community has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in communities in orphanages, water wells, and clinics because we do care about families and their children. The orphan care movement is all about children and how can we best serve them~and for many it is about bringing them into our homes where they HAVE thrived~and for others it is serving them where they are.

  33. Avatar TAO says:

    Thanks Dawn – I think he has tried in the past – one of his viral posts was specifically DON’T ADOPT several years ago. Not sure if it helped…I believe even in the comments about disruptions the response was that was the route God chose to get them into the right family – all is well. Some go with the right mindset – others just leap right in. Would not matter if it was a completely different ministry, faith, relgion. Rallies bring all mindsets and adoption takes a very specific type of family.

  34. Avatar TAO says:

    Hi Dawn,

    A question and a comment:

    Did they address corruption and provide any indication on steps to ellminate it, call out the bad apples, get them shut down, or just tell prospective parents that corruption happens and they need to make sure it doesn’t happen?

    As to Dr. Moore’s ponts you note above. As an objective observer who has been there, and done that, you may see his points in a different way than those who have come to the summit, to do God’s will in calling for adopting the orphan. I can see all of those points reving people in that mindset up to prove they have it in them. Can you see that side? I think most would see this as challenging their commitment – not as a caution. My comments after your bullet points.

    •If what you want is a risk-free life—Don’t Adopt!

    We want to do the hard stuff because that is what we are mandated to do by God. If we rely on God he will help us through the hard times.

    •Welcoming someone into your life is an invitation to be hurt.

    God didn’t worry about being hurt – we hurt him every day when we sin. We can do this with God’s help.

    •Don’t sentimentalize what it means to be a parent. It’s hard and often unrewarding work.

    But it is Gods desire that we as Christians follow his will – if we have enough faith we too can succeed.

    •Adoption is not a happily ever after type of story.

    God doesn’t promise it will all be easy but he does promise to be there with us, helping up, every step of the way.

    •I spend more of my time talking people out of adopting now than encouraging them to adopt.

    But we don’t need to be talked out of it because we have faith God will guide us down the right path.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      TAO, yes, I can see your point, but the session was titled the Biggest Challenges, and I felt that he was honestly addressing the problem many of us raised in the past about people jumping into older child adoption without preparation. I’m sure that many in the Orphan Care Movement are dealing with these issues in their families and congregations and the “movement” is trying to respond. It seems unfair to ask for them to do a better job of preparing families and then criticize them when they do just that.

  35. Avatar Katherine A says:

    I’ve been reading the Kathryn Joyce book, and while I’m not quite finished with it, the biggest thing I’m getting is an argument against naivete in adoption. There’s a few ways this naivete plays out. First, there are the genuine, well-meaning people but culturally very centered around the idea that their culture – religion, nationality – is the best and only right way. This means that the children can lose touch with their original culture and it also seems to play into a ‘rescuer’ complex where the child is essentially told that they are ‘lucky’ to be with the family, no matter what.

    Second, Joyce really looks at how children come into adoption internationally, and it’s not always pretty. As far as I can see, what she’s pointing out here is: do good research and due diligence when considering adoption, particularly international. Don’t just trust agencies, don’t just blindly listen to people, no matter how Christian they seem. Then be ready to search for the child’s real situation and prepared to do what’s best for the child – whether that’s being adopted or finding a way for their families to keep them.

    The thing is, I completely support adoption, both domestic and international, provided it’s an ethical placement. I think plenty of Christians sign up for adoption because they genuinely want to parent the child (full disclosure: I am Christian, though in no way, shape or form of the Evangelical persuasion. I’m of the liberal, more mainstream persuasion and grew up in a household with a parent who actively practiced a different faith, so I’ve seen firsthand how plenty of Christians mean to say/do something good, but how it can also come across as insulting or even deeply problematic to someone who is not Christian).

    What’s harder is weeding out the ones who have some serious ulterior, potentially harmful motives. Until agencies get very serious about not just faith requirements but also that the people want to parent a child and also self-monitor to ensure that all children being adopted are being done so transparently and ethically, it’s going to to be somewhat hard to rehabilitate the image. There generally is going to have to be a willingness to call out agencies/take responsibility for those that aren’t acting in children’s best interests and for more talks like the one Russell Moore gave at the conference. It’s too bad, because of course, I’m sure there are some wonderful, ethical agencies that deserve the good press. But to get that necessitates churches and communities strongly calling out the ones that aren’t doing good things.

  36. Avatar Andrew says:

    Another post where the “orphan care movement” is not sugar coating adoption:

  37. Avatar Trena Clark says:


    Hi! I’m the woman that you spoke with at the conference–just wanted to let you know. Blessings, Trena

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Yes, everyone, this is the lady I talked to. Thanks so much Trena for reaching out. I’m so glad that I at least got the organization right, even if I missed the name. 🙂 50% is not bad for me.

  38. Avatar Jerry Clarke says:

    That may have been her point Dawn, but what she said is that people who adopt based on emotion instead of faith will not be able to handle the bumps as well as people of faith. Perhaps she could have just said that she’s happy to have her faith to support her, without needing to make a judgment about how much better that is than people who don’t believe what she does.

  39. Avatar Anon says:

    Dawn, in response to the question you posed in comment #26: I think what Joyce is trying to say is that the demand that is created from a surging interest in adoption from the orphan movement, particularly in countries under threat of war or extreme poverty, creates an environment that can more easily result in adoption abuses(ie, incentives for fraud, coercion, etc). I liken it to sweatshop labor in the clothing industry – the demand for cheap clothing in America (and greed on the part of the retailers) creates incentives for suppliers to cut costs and for retailers to base their factories in countries with little government regulation of anything. So no, American consumers aren’t personally forcing children into hard labor, but the fact that workers in other countries are so desparate for work and that we want cheap clothes creates an environment for that to happen. There are some parallels in the adoption industry as it is usually those with means who have the ability to adopt the children of those without.

    And yes, Joyce’s book focuses on the effect of the orphan movement in both domestic and international adoption. I’d be curious to hear what she has to say on your show if you can make that happen.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      anon, yes, I suspect that is her point, but I think it would have been better made as a critique of international adoption in general.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top ↑

Content created by Creating a Family. And remember, there are no guarantees in adoption or infertility treatment. The information provided or referenced on this website should be used only as part of an overall plan to help educate you about the joys and challenges of adopting a child or dealing with infertility. Although the following seems obvious, our attorney insists that we tell you specifically that the information provided on this site may not be appropriate or applicable to you, and despite our best efforts, it may contain errors or important omissions. You should rely only upon the professionals you employ to assist you directly with your individual circumstances. CREATING A FAMILY DOES NOT WARRANT THE INFORMATION OR MATERIALS contained or referenced on this website. CREATING A FAMILY EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS LIABILITY FOR ERRORS or omissions in this information and materials and PROVIDES NO WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, implied, express or statutory. IN NO EVENT WILL CREATING A FAMILY BE LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES, including without limitation direct or indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages, losses or expenses arising out of or in connection with the use of the information or materials, EVEN IF CREATING A FAMILY OR ITS AGENTS ARE NEGLIGENT AND/OR ARE ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.