Friday, August 17, 2012

Pat Robertson: Don't take on adoptees, they're "somebody else's problem"

Well, here's an interesting one!  All the folks who are sure that the Bible means for them to adopt (James 1:27: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.   (Yes, I know the Scripture just says "look after orphans," not adopt them, but others seem to think the only way to "look after" them is to adopt them) might be surprised that televangelist Pat Robertson seems to disagree -- after all, you never know where those adoptees come from, what they've experienced, and they could grow up "weird:"
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.”

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.”
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?!

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.


Unknown said...

Youknow, this could have been approached without even addressing the fact that the children were adopted. Some people just don't want to be a step parent, for all the same reasons that Pat Robertson provided. Coming in as the parent to a child later in life means that you Don't know for sure what happened in that child's life before you arrived. It is taking a huge risk. Some folks aren't up for that.
The statements that he makes are valid reasons for people to pause and give thought to when thinking of adoption. If you can't handle thinking of those scary unknowns then you should probably think of other ways to help. It'd have been nice if he'd pointed out the other ways to help children in need rather than brushing them off. The 'somebody else's problem' statement is hurtful and seems ignorant or at the very least just mean.

redkitchen said...

I am a Christian who adopted a little girl from China, and she has more serious special needs than what we initially knew, but that doesn't mean I love her any less. I am really upset by Mr. Robertson's comments. I believe God led us to adopt, and I have no regrets. He knew my daughter and my husband & me & His plan brought us together when her birth mom was unable to care for her. I also do not believe that every Christian is called to adopt, but I do believe they are called to care for orphans in some capacity. For my family that meant adoption, but for others it may mean sponsorship, volunteering in an orphanage, or advocating for orphans in some way. Mr. Robertson seems to be blaming the orphans themselves for their problems, and he shows no compassion for the very kind of children that Jesus would be reaching out to if He were here on earth. Since we are His hands and feet now, then I pray that other believers will love and care for orphans no matter whether or not they turn out to be "weird."

Truly Blessed said...

When are people going to learn to THINK before opening their mouths?

PhoenixRising said...

Whatever stupid, asinine thing Pat Robertson said this week; there is no god whom allows some to gain at the expense and suffering of others. If there is, what a convoluted, cruel supernatural being "he" is...

Kristen said...

Hmmm. they won't grow up as weird as Pat Robertson is. In fact, my daughter will be far more "normal" than he'll ever be.