Televangelist Pat Robertson on Thursday cautioned his viewers to think twice before adopting disadvantaged children that had been sexually abused or deprived of food because they could grow up “weird.”I don't agree with the version of Christianity that equates caring for orphans with adopting them (I've written about that here and here and here), but I also don't agree with Robertson's version of Christianity that says you don't have to take on somebody else's "problems" (lovely way to describe children, huh?! "Problems."). In fact, isn't that what taking care of orphans and widows is really all about?!
During Thursday’s edition of The 700 Club co-host Kristi Watts read a letter from a woman who wanted to know why men stopped dating her when they learned that she had adopted three daughters from three different countries.
“Can I answer?” Watts asked. “I was going to say because they’re dogs. … That’s just wrong on every level.”
“No, it’s not wrong,” Robertson disagreed. “A man doesn’t want to take on the United Nations, and this woman’s got all these various children and blended family. What is it?”
The TV preacher then told a story about his “dear friend” who had adopted a son with brain damage and the boy “grew up weird.”
“You just never know what’s been done to a child before you get that child,” he explained. “What kind of sexual abuse, what kind of cruelty, what kind of food deprivation, etc., etc., etc.”
“So, you’re not a dog because you don’t want to take on that responsibility,” Robertson added. “You don’t have to take on somebody else’s problems.”
Now, it's a little scary that it seems I agree with Pat about something -- people can take care of orphans without adopting them. But we have a different reason for this belief. My problem with it, as I've stated before, is two-fold. First, many so-called orphans in orphanages aren't orphans at all and don't need to be adopted. Instead, they need support to allow for family reunification. Second, if one's motivation for adopting is to "save" an orphan, that's a dangerous reason to go into adoption, creating as it does expectations of gratitude and enforcement of corrosive inferiority (go read here for more on the problem of "rescuing" orphans).
Pat's problem with adopting orphans seems to be that they are damanged goods, "problems," not children worthy of family. So I'd have to say, on balance, Pat and I profoundly disagree. There, I feel better.