Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Guest Blogger: If Adoption Isn't the Answer, How DO We Care For Orphans?

Here's my standard disclaimer for all guest blogs: The opinions expressed herein are solely the opinions of the author. By publishing it here, I do not signal agreement or disagreement. The purpose of guest blogs is to bring a variety of viewpoints, some of which I might share, and some of which I might not. There, does that cover it?!

Our first guest blogger is Lisa Yabuki:

Well, I'm not a blogger, but I am an adoptive mom of a beautiful almost 7-year old girl from China and 2 bio boys ages 13 and 9. Unlike many who choose adoption because of biological necessity, we chose to add to our family through adoption after having 2 boys because we believed that there were children in the world who needed families, and we felt that we could be that family for one child. In reading Malinda's blog for some time now, I have realized that not everyone has this rosy picture of adoption being a win-win situation for the child and the adoptive family. There has been a real focus on the losses experienced by the birth families and by the adoptees themselves. Even the nature of adopting has been called into question as a practice which breeds corruption and child trafficking, and some have likened adoptive parents to kidnappers who steal other people's children for their own benefit. While I don't espouse these extreme views, it has gotten me thinking about the problem of orphans in this world and how I as a Christian ought to respond. Certainly adoption is not the only thing that can be done to help orphans, but I also think that children need something more than just shelter and sustenance to be truly whole human beings. Ideally all children would be cared for by their birth parents, but this is not an ideal world. So, what is to be done?

A friend of mine heads up an organization called Yes, it is a Christian organization, but I don't think it fits the stereotype that many people have about Christian organizations. The goal of worldorphans is to get the churches in the child's community of origin to care for the needy children of the community in a family-like setting. The children benefit by remaining in their birth communities, and the community's awareness is raised by seeing what the churches are doing. I am curious what readers of this blog think about this type of approach to orphan care.


Love for Lilly Yin said...

Not a bad idea...if it can be accomplished on a global level. i am interested in seeing how this would work in communist countries such as China....and how it would be accepted within a community. I still think the best place for a child is with a family. Where they are shown unconditional love, and are taught how to love and care for each other. I am just still unsure of how well it would work. I will research it more though. Thanks for sharing!

The Gang's Momma! said...

I think it's exactly what Jesus meant when he told his followers to "care for the widows and orphans." If you believe the teachings of Jesus, you have to act upon them. I think that groups like your friend's org and many, many others ARE doing it well in China. Maybe not as official documented churches as in this org's plan, but maybe as outreaches of churches banding together. Or as Christian orgs. Like Love Without Boundaries.

The Bible says that WE (His followers) are the church (not only the strict definition of the bricks and mortar tax-exempt structure set up by the gov't), so it stands to reason that when WE put our hands to work, when we mobilize to create or support these types of orgs, we are BEING His representatives, His church if you will, in practice. Not just in word.

They are doing the hard work on the ground. And we are supporting that work when we support them. We are helping care for orphans when we support orgs like this. When we DO for them so that they can DO for the orphans.

Oh, and thanks for the tip of yet another group BEING His hands and feet. I'm on my way to check them out now!

Myst said...

Completely agree with this approach. I agree with the comment above, I feel this is what Jesus meant by caring for orphans and widows... I do NOT feel he meant by taking them out of their natural communities, away from everything they have ever known and altering their whole legal identity so they lived an alternate reality to the the one they were born too... which is what adoption does.

I have seen this happen. As the daughter of aid workers/missionaries who lived amongst the poor, in slums, I saw this first hand which is why I am so against adoption. It isn't necessary when we group together and use our resources to assist wherever possible. Its a shame this isn't done more often.

China is a challenge but where this is a will, there is ALWAYS a way.

Great post!

Steve said...

Thanks, Lisa, for your thoughtful blog. Congratulations on your first foray!

Thanks, Malinda, for this blog in general. I connect and learn regularly.

I think Lisa answered her own question pretty well, but I want to point out the phrasing of the question reflects the black and white nature of some people's attitudes. Obviously not Lisa's, as we can see from her context. Adoption as "the" answer is how many people look at it.

But the answer for each child in risk, and even each child and that child's birth mother, is as diverse as the personality, situation, and culture in which the child is found. The ideal for each child is certainly a family. No one disagrees. But the rush to adopt, and I have to say that the desire to profit from that on the part of the middlemen fanned those flames, discounted the fact that many of the children had a family. And helping the family would help the child. Actually, I think that is either World Vision's, or Compassion International's mantra.

Organizations like World Orphans are beginning to realize that the cultural context is important. I also appreciate what Lisa alluded to, that the churches need to do this, and so the churches might need the orphan, more than the orphan needs the church.

Another new, and still seminal organization, which combines the need sometimes for removal from the birth family, AND cultural and familial care, is Casa Viva, in Costa Rica.

Also, in the states, there is a new organization that would be an excellent model for the WO folks to model worldwide. It is Safe Families. My understanding is that Christian families agree to foster care for a temporary period, while a parent gets their feet back on the ground. Because it is not a legal, or governmental issue yet, the parent does not lose the child.

These ways of helping are incredibly self sacrificial. Caring for and bonding with a child by pouring one's life into that child, and then releasing that child to the restored birth family is akin to a physical wound that leaves a part of one's heart raw, and bleeding. It hurts immensely. But doesn't that sound like what Jesus did for us? Wouldn't that be an appropriate way to actually pick up one's cross and follow Him?

BUT i believe there will always be the child who needs an adoptive family. As a matter of fact, I have about 25 children under my roof right now, who were left by their mother soon after birth. Who knows what desperate straights led her to make that decision? Rape? Incest? Awareness of her own immaturity and inability? There is no way to find the family, and so these kids are truly alone. They need to be adopted.

I, in kneejerk logic, would rather they go to a family like Lisa, who did not make the decision based on infertility. But I also understand the pain of an infertile couple, who not only have love for a child, but also suffer the shame of our cultural expectations, and all sorts of things I don't understand. So maybe, we need to help the infertile couples match up with the truly abandoned children. Maybe that is God's redemptive plan.

As the prices for adoptions rises, any economic analysis will show that this means there are more people wanting these babies, than there are babies available. What if we all agreed that the humanitarian or Christian motivation to rescue children be a free process?

Then, if infertile couples, or even folks who want to pick their child's gender, choose to have one, they can also consider surrogacy...which we really need to allow to be an honest business. Profits are allowed with no shame.

But charity needs to be separated from profit. And profit has no business [pun intended] in determining the best way to help a child in need.

Anonymous said...

Great idea for the guest blog, Malinda.

There are a lot of charities out there devoted to improving the lives of children within Haiti. Some are orphaned; some can no longer be raised by their parents. It's just that it's taken something like the quake to draw our attention to the hardship there. There are people who have been there for 10, 15 years, who had no thought of exporting these kids. So there are many models to look at and emulate. Unfortunately, adoption is sucking up a lot of attention.