How Christian Obsession with Orphans Is Creating Problems (NYT editorial) – Also: confirms my previous warnings about Christians ignoring Christians to help only special classes
As I have been saying on this blog for months, one major mistake in American Christianity (specifically, fundamentalists, Baptists, and evangelicals) is that they neglect to carry out the Bible’s command for Christians to care for and about other Christians primiarly (Galatians 6:10), but tend to pick “special interest groups” to shower compassion upon (eg, homeless crack addicts, strippers in sex clubs, African orphans).
Here is a page reporting on how this Christian obsession with adopting Chinese and African orphans, and orphans from other nations, is creating problems:
(Link): The Evangelical Orphan Boom
You will have to click that link to read the whole page. Here are several quotes from it:
- By KATHRYN JOYCE
Published: September 21, 2013
IF you attend an evangelical church these days, there’s a good chance you’ll hear about the “orphan crisis” affecting millions of children around the world.
These Christian advocates of transnational adoption will often say that some 150 million children need homes — though that figure, derived from a Unicef report, includes not only parentless children, but also those who have lost only one parent, and orphans who live with relatives.
Evangelical adoptions picked up in earnest in the middle of the last decade, when a wave of prominent Christians, including the megachurch pastor Rick Warren and leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, began to promote adoption as a special imperative for believers.
Adoption mirrored the Christian salvation experience, they argued, likening the adoption of orphans to Christ’s adoption of the faithful. Adoption also embodied a more holistic “pro-life” message — caring for children outside the womb as well as within — and an emphasis on good deeds, not just belief, that some evangelicals felt had been ceded to mainline Protestant denominations.
Believers rose to the challenge. The Christian Alliance for Orphans estimates that hundreds of thousands of people worldwide participate in its annual Orphan Sunday (this year’s is Nov. 3).
Evangelicals from the Bible Belt to Southern California don wristbands or T-shirts reading “orphan addict” or “serial adopter.” Ministries have emerged to raise money and award grants to help Christians pay the fees (some $30,000 on average, plus travel) associated with transnational adoption.
However well intended, this enthusiasm has exacerbated what has become a boom-and-bust market for children that leaps from country to country. In many cases, the influx of money has created incentives to establish or expand orphanages — and identify children to fill them.
In some cases, agencies may hire “child finders” to recruit children of the age and gender that prospective adoptive parents prefer, sometimes from impoverished but intact families. Even nonprofit agencies with good reputations may turn to such local recruiters in countries where they don’t already have established partners — or where the demand for children exceeds the supply.
The potential for fraud and abuse is high. Orphanages tend to be filled by kids whose parents want better opportunities for them, while the root problem — extreme poverty — goes unaddressed, a Unicef worker in Ethiopia told me. Worse, some families in places with different cultural norms and legal systems relinquish their kids believing that it is a temporary guardianship arrangement, rather than an irrevocable severance of family ties.
In 2006, the family of three sisters adopted from Sodo, Ethiopia, said they were told that adoption would give the children a chance at an American education and that they would later return. The adoptive parents, then living in New Mexico, said they’d been falsely assured by an evangelical agency, Christian World Adoption, that they were saving destitute children orphaned by AIDS, who might otherwise have become sex workers.
When the children arrived and were told the adoption was permanent, they were distraught. And when the adoptive family complained, the agency maintained that the adoption was justified under Ethiopian law and counseled the parents to trust in God’s plan. When the adoptive family complained to the Better Business Bureau in North Carolina, where the agency was based, it threatened to report the family to child protective services in New Mexico. (The agency has since gone bankrupt.)
Though most are not as nightmarish, adoption complications are common. Some adoptive parents have even hired private investigators to try to verify the stories they were told about their kids.
… At the height of Guatemala’s adoption boom in the middle of the last decade, nearly 1 percent of babies were sent to the United States, before stories of child buying and even kidnapping prompted a shutdown in 2008. Then the boom shifted to Ethiopia and, now, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
… Of course, adoption problems aren’t limited to Christian agencies, and they don’t originate with them, but some movement insiders say that evangelicals — whether driven by zeal or naïveté — have had a disproportionate impact on the international adoption system. Groups like Unicef and Save the Children have made clear that millions of “orphans” are, in fact, not eligible for transnational adoption, but advocates often disregard these warnings as signs of ideological opposition to adoption — a charge Unicef has denied.
… This boom-and-bust, musical-chairs cycle does little to improve child-welfare systems in developing countries and has perpetuated a culture of aid-based orphanage construction — the reverse of the trend in wealthy countries, which have phased out institutions in favor of foster care.
The United States must improve regulation.
…Policy reforms, domestic and international, won’t be enough without a change in thinking, particularly among American evangelicals. Some Christian groups have begun to heed the call to do good works overseas, by focusing on aid that keeps families intact or improves local foster care and adoption. Some churches have backed programs overseas that provide emergency foster parents, or day care programs for widowed mothers. But many churches still preach the simplistic message that there are more Christians in the world than orphans, and that every adoption means a child saved.
Related posts this blog:
(Link): The Child Free City