Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"Why don't you just adopt?"

From Her.meneutics, the Christianity Today blog for women, a nuanced look at the question, "Why don't you just adopt?":
“Why don’t you just adopt?” Well-meaning people say this often to those who have used or are considering reproductive technology to conceive because of infertility or a troubling genetic history. The question implies that adoption is the simplest, most loving, and least selfish choice. Wouldn’t it be a better use of resources to adopt a child who needs parents rather than paying fertility clinics to help make a baby? If a couple really wants a child, should they really put their desire for a biological child over the needs of living, breathing children who could use a home?

These questions rely on what theologian and ethicist Paul Lauritzen has called the “myth of unwanted children.” Lauritzen, in Pursuing Parenthood, writes that “even to talk about ‘unwanted children’ may be misleading in situations where a woman is
relinquishing a child not because she is unwilling to care for her child, but because she is unable to do so. . . . To speak about ‘unwanted children’ is to fail to take seriously what is perhaps the most compelling reason women relinquish children, namely, poverty” (p. 126).

For every mother who weeps in relief as her child leaves for a better life, another mother weeps in anguish that she felt compelled to make such a choice. As Christians called to care for “the least of these,” we are also called to help create healthy societies where mothers aren’t forced to relinquish children because they are overwhelmed by poverty, violence, and chaos. Given that our Scriptures frequently remind us that our treasure is not to be found in wealth, we need to guard against believing that a well-off parent is by default better than a poor one.

Beyond these tricky dynamics of wealth and wanting are other reasons that adoption is far from a simple solution.
Read the whole thing, then let me know what you think.


Bukimom said...

I'm really glad to see this issue addressed in a prominent forum such as "Christianity Today."

The part that especially resonated with me is that each family needs to determine what God is saying to them in the area of building a family.

Just because adopting is the right choice for one family doesn't mean it's the right choice for every family. We need to respect those differences.

Von said...

It's complex but much is driven by the adoption industry of which the churches are part.'Baby lust' also plays a part..must have what we want now, whatever it takes and whoever gets hurt.
Very few children are unwanted, if they are it's sometimes because of the trauma of the mother, rape etc.

Anonymous said...

unwanted child


michelle said...

I saw the article. I particularly like the parts you pulled for your post. I would love to see the church focus more on supporting women who find themselves in crisis, rather than on focusing nearly single-mindedly on adoption. I admit, there is some tension for me here, as I have a heart for children who are without parents, for any reason. However, as we look at which areas to focus on, my husband and I tend to support organizations that aid in family preservation. I definitely think "Why don't you just adopt" is an expression often used without much depth of understanding.

Anonymous said...

Very few children are unwanted

Having worked in the foster care system, I would have to say that there are many unwanted children, primarily due to parental drug addiction. True, the drug addiction may be secondary to trauma, but the tragic end result is that no one wants these children.

I, too, am glad to see this issue addressed in a Christian venue. Not until I entered the special needs adoption world did I realize the Christian pro-adoption force is one to be reckoned with.

Shannon said...

It's a hard decision to adopt, and certainly not the right one for every couple. Having adopted (and planning to again), we know how difficult and draining the process can be. The idea of "unwanted children" is especially complex. It is sad to think of all the true orphans in the world, but also sad to consider the possibility of deception in the adoption process.

I believe, as a Christian, that we are called to care for orphans. But I also believe that God's heart is for families to stay together. We absolutely should be helping and equipping families so that children don't have to be relinquished in the first place. These are all concepts that I was very naive about before adopting, and I still struggle with them. Thanks for bringing them up on your blog.