Evangelical Adoptions: Churches Are AWOL in Helping Parents of Special Needs Kids by Julia Duin – Churches Are Useless (and Not Just Re: Adoptive Families)
By Julia Duin, who has also written and has been interviewed about how churches have let down single adults over the age of 30, and who wrote a wonderful book called “Quitting Church.”
This article discusses how so many evangelical churches encouraged Christian couples to adopt babies (usually from foreign nations), but once those adopted babies grew up to have all sort of developmental or personality disorders, churches would not help these parents.
This is like so much of American, evangelical, Baptist and Protestant Christianity:
Sell a certain deed, or a type of life style (or whatever it may be – let’s call it “X,” whether it’s adopting a baby, or whatever it is) as being so “godly” and “pure,” but once you live X out, and X either does not work out, or it creates a whole new batch of problems, those same Christians, or ones like them who promote X, refuse to help you.
I went through something similar in regards to adult singlehood. I wrote about that (Link): here.
I followed all the Christian dating advice I was taught as a teen and 20- something, Christian advice that taught me if I wanted to get married I would, if I just followed “biblical” wisdom, and the Christian persons, books, and magazine articles spelled it out for me.
However, when I remained single into my mid-30s, in spite of having followed the Christian teaching I had been given by other Christians when younger, and when I began asking Christians online (on various blogs and discussion forums) who dish out this swill to singles, why I didn’t have the husband I had been promised according to their teaching, interpretations, and worldview, I was yelled at, judged, and criticized by these Christians.
I was told God didn’t owe me anything, etc, and how dare I expect God to “reward” me with a spouse just because I did Z, Q, and R (i.e., just because I had followed Christian teaching and advice on the topic).
Christians will do this to you – they will sell you and market you on doing X, and so you carry out X, but five, ten years later, X did not work out and maybe even left you with a set of problems you need help with, the same Christians that sold you X in the first place are now not willing to help you, and may even insult you when you go to them telling them that X did not work, and you could use their help.
You end up getting punished for taking the very life-style advice, for buying the marketing, these Christians sold you, guilt tripped you, or conned you into taking in the first place. 😤🤬😡😣😫
It’s demonic and perverse, I swear.
It is crazy-making and despicable how Christians set people up in these no-win or stressful or miserable situations, then fault those people when they try the Christian advice, and admit to defeat, stress, and they ask for help.
Christians set people up for failure with their stupid advice, then have the audacity to victim-blame those people (who earnestly took and followed the advice) for failing. 😡😤🤬
After having read through the testimonies of the parents on this page (see below, link with excerpts), it sounds like exhausting, hellish work to raise these adoptive children who turn out to have medical and behavioral problems.
I cannot, in good conscience, condemn any adult who realizes after so many months or years, they don’t have the mental or physical strength to keep parenting such children and so decide to return these children back to the adoption agency.
I appreciate the work Dee of Wartburg Watch has done against abuse, but I recall years ago, she ripped into famous Christian speaker Beth Moore, because Moore returned one of her adoptive children back to his mother.
I wrote about that situation (Link): here, towards the end of the post, under the sub-heading “Beth Moore / Judgementalism.” (You can scroll down that page to find the Beth Moore section, which is buried under a long discussion about YEC.)
It’s very easy to sit in judgment of someone else when or if your life is more or less going okay at the time and the person you’re criticizing has a life that is falling apart, or they’re in the middle of a calamity, or you may have a different temperament or inner strength the person you’re criticizing lacks.
I personally do not think I’d have the fortitude, endurance, or patience to put up with an adoptive kid who acts out constantly, even into their late teens. I’d want a break from that, too.
I have way, way more comments below this long excerpt, so please keep scrolling to read everything; thank you:
by Julia Duin
For years, evangelical Christians were enthusiastic supporters of adoption by sponsoring conferences, targeting adoption-friendly Sundays and staging adoption fairs in parish halls.
… Parents now say that the churches that encouraged them to adopt in the first place aren’t there for them now.
…Few statistics exist on the number of adoptions gone wrong, other than a 10-year-old study by the US Department of Health and Human Services reporting “adoption disruptions” ranging from 10-25 percent. This little-known statistic points to a meltdown in the industry and a sign that adoption and foster care have become a landmine for many families who believed God had called them to help these children.
No one told them there could be an aftermath. Here are some of their stories.
[I will not be pasting in ALL stories. These are just a few from the page]
Evangelicals adopted at a higher rate than others
“Joy” was a social worker in Tacoma, Washington, who adopted a 9-year-old boy in 2000, hoping for the best. She had 32 years of experience working for the state and a Christian agency where she’d helped more than 600 people adopt foster children.
The divorced mother of two was prepared for challenging behavior, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and developmental delays and PTSD from the child’s six years with mentally ill biological parents.
What stunned her was that by age 15, her son was a registered sex offender. Bad relationships, drug abuse and a child out of wedlock followed. Now 30, he cannot hold down a job.
[Joy started something called the “Refresh” movement, for parents of adopted children]
…They [evangelicals who adopted infants or toddlers] would [later, as those infants or toddlers aged] be grappling with teenage – or older – children with intractable mental and emotional problems while their churches – which encouraged them to adopt in the first place – did little or nothing to help.
[The article discusses a couple named Vanita and Peter Thomas, who adopted two children from India. One of them is a son named Sandeep whose mother burned herself to death in front of the boy when he was aged six.]
…Meanwhile, the Thomases discovered that Sandeep [their adopted son from India] had Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), an extremely difficult condition where a child does not bond with his new caretakers. RAD is one of a host of problems no one warned these parents about – along with ultra-violent behaviors and mental disorders way beyond their ability to handle.
…”We shouldn’t be pushing people into the deep end of the water, then saying, ‘Figure it out.’ It is the entire church’s responsibility to take care of orphans.”
But a lot of churches didn’t do so, although evangelicals have remained passionate about adoption, giving generously to orphan care ministries …
… Joy, who was a speaker at Refresh, said the adoption movement was hitting the skids because people were seeing its hard realities.
… Churches are great at advising people not to abort such children, “but there’s no one helping you,” she says. “A special needs parent’s list is never ending – medications, appointments – some days, we can’t even get out of our homes.
… “There is still idealism and naivete in the Christian community,” she [“Gwen,” a mental health counselor] says.
… She no longer attends church because of significant “trust issues with local organized faith communities” who were of little help to her over the years.
— end excerpts —
I’d encourage you to read the rest of the article (Link): here, on Newsweek.
That article is more confirmation of what I began seeing years and years ago: churches will encourage you to do X, with “X” being something most of them will not do themselves
(whether it’s adopting a foreign orphan with developmental disabilities, or selling off your home to live in a crime-ridden, inner-city hole, or whatever it is),
but “X” sounds so shucky-darn “godly” and pious, that the Christians who love the sound of it will hype, encourage, and egg you into doing X,
but when X turns out to be a nightmare of epic proportions,
those same church people will turn a deaf ear to your pleas for help with X.
I’ve seen this same phenomenon in other contexts, not just with adoption.
To the one adoptive mother in the article who made this plea:
“I understand people don’t want to help with scary kids. But bring a meal or clean my house. Come on a Saturday and help with yard clean up or collectively watch the kid so the parents can go on a date for a few hours. The church needs to go out in the world – that is, go into the homes of these families.”
— end excerpt —
Churches Will Never Help With Anything: Accept Reality, Look Elsewhere For Solutions – Most People Are Selfish
I am truly sorry this lady is stressed, but that is not going to happen. She needs to accept that reality and not count on any church coming to her rescue. She needs to plan on a lack of help from her church.
I’m a single adult who has been blogging away for years here about how churches not only ignore singles past the age of 30 who never marry, but they ignore anyone, such as widows, who is not a young, married couple with small, healthy children at home.
Churches love, love, love and adore 20- to 30-something married couples who have healthy, biological babies and toddlers at home.
Everyone else, in view of most churches, can drop dead or fall off a cliff.
Churches do not want or welcome never married, childless adults.
Churches do not welcome or want widows, the elderly, divorced, or single adults with disabilities.
Single Women Are Not Free Baby Sitters, a Reminder
Also… as a single woman… I want to remind anyone reading this article that single women are NOT free babysitting services.
I remain appalled at how so many churches or Christian mothers act like it’s the duty of every single (un-married) woman to be a free house-keeper or baby sitter to married mothers who’d like a break from child-care.
Granted, the lady in the article did not specify that she expects, hopes, or wants single, childless women like me to run over and clean her house or baby sit her kids, but that is often where these discussions go, at least by church people.
I am sorry if these adoptive mothers to troubled kids are frazzled, but I, who am a never-married, childless adult woman, was not created to provide free maid service or baby sitting service to people who chose to get pregnant and/or to adopt.
And I never see married couples, especially not ones with kids, ever ask how they can serve their single, childless friends and acquaintances.
Single women are overlooked in most churches, Christians and Christian culture do not care about single women or meeting the needs of single women, so don’t come banging on the doors of single women expecting them to drop their schedules to babysit, mow your lawn, scrub your toilets, or cook a meal for you.
The article goes on to describe the nightmares of other Christian couples who adopted children, and how, in their push to encourage people to adopt, evangelicals deceptively or naively downplay or neglect to even mention the severity of potential or possible problems adoptive children may develop, and the article mentions time and again how the local churches around these couples do not pitch in to help them. The couples are left to fend for themselves, and it’s taxing and draining work.
The article mentions how the adopted child of one couple has FASD (fetal alcohol syndrome disorder), but members of the couple’s church actually and ignorantly chalked the kid’s problems up to demons.
The mother of that FASD child says she stopped going to church. She was tired of explaining FASD to other church people. She says she was tired of church people judging, and not understanding.
The Unwillingness to Help or The Stupid Christian Advice Doesn’t End With Adoption But Every Other Problem in Life
What that lady says is not just true of FASD or troubled adopted kids, but churches are ignorant and insensitive about anyone going through any other type of problem!
Mental Health – Singleness – Grieving Death of Loved One
During the years I had clinical depression, I didn’t get relief, encouragement, or help from Christians I knew, or from the ones I met at churches.
Churchy people at churches I would visit didn’t help me with my single status, or provide me with companionship – I was left to my own devices.
I got tired of the judgement, explaining about depression and anxiety, about the particular problems one faces when one is single past the age of 30, and all the rest of it.
I didn’t get emotional support after my mother died. No, the people I met at church gave me platitudes or shaming when I was in the grieving process – they didn’t give me empathy or encouragement.
Living in Happy Bubbles
I am convinced that most Christians are insensitive asshats who live simple, easy, protected lives in their bubbles of ease, plenty, and pollyanna-ism.
Many of them will judge you from that vantage.
Life is going so easy for them, so they feel fine whipping off simplistic answers or being critical or judgmental.
At one time, Christianity and Judeo-Christian morals and a Judeo-Christian world view was quite helpful – I’m talking about historically speaking.
These days, though, if you’re an individual with a problem, whatever it is, churches are the last places that can or will help you.
They are either too ignorant to do so, or they have no interest in helping, or they give really bad advice, like (but not limited to), telling abused wives to never divorce, and to try to “fix” their abusive husband by being even “more submissive.”
Someone left this comment under the article about adoption on the Newsweek article:
It takes 2 full-time adult parents to watch my 20-year old non-verbal autistic nephew.
The parents are in their 60’s with 20 years of misery behind them.
They received very little help, other than an 8-hour break with a daytime aide.
They actually were told to pay money back to the federal government for care their son received, prior to being determined permanently disabled.
There is not a lot of sanity in their household. Covid made things exponentially worse.
No aide any more, it’s all on them.
This is the reality of taking care of a disabled child with seizures, intermittent explosive disorder, non-verbal, ADHD, and a multitude of other diagnosis.
These adoptive parents bit off a lot more than I could ever handle.
— end excerpt —
See, after reading testimonies like that one by Anonomyte, I wouldn’t dare to presume to sit in judgement of someone who gets to the breaking point, feels as though they may snap, so they decide to return their adoptive child (or young adult in this case) back to the adoption agency. I wouldn’t blame them.
If the 60-something couple in the anecdote above wanted to return that 20 year old (is he adopted?) to the agency or orphanage, I would have a very difficult time condemning them for that. I can’t imagine how mentally and physically exhausted they must be.
What A Sham – and What a Bait and Switch
The older and older I get, I realize what a sham a lot of the Christian faith (at least as it’s been taught and practiced by some) and Christian community is.
The Bible instructs believers to bear one another’s burdens, but they do not – or some Christians will only help the “usual” set of super hard-knock, extreme down in their luck, cases.
For example, if you’re not a homeless, alcoholic, crack-head living in a cardboard box, churches won’t lift a finger to help you.
Churches sure don’t care about single adults over the age of 30, widows, widowers, or the divorced, or just an average, middle class person who’s going through a tough time in life.
I’ve written blog posts about this before:
Learn From This Recovered Codependent
As for that parent pleading with churches or Christians for child care or house cleaning help:
I’m a recovered codependent now, as I’ve gone over in previous posts.
I can no longer be guilt tripped or shamed into taking on a care-taker, rescuer, or fixer role for others.
No, I don’t want to mow your lawn or wash your dirty dishes so you can take a nap for two hours.
Nor do I want to be your free therapist and take endless, soul sucking, weepy phone calls where you talk my ear off daily to weekly about how stressful it is to be a full time parent to an adopted child with issues.
I played those roles with many people with all sorts of problems for over three decades and didn’t get my needs met in return.
If you’re a codependent, an empath with poor boundaries, a push over, easily guilt tripped, or a people pleaser, do not be roped into playing free babysitter or cleaning service for these families!
(Unless you seriously mull it over and decide to offer to help in some capacity. But know your limits and decide beforehand how much help you’re willing to provide and for how long.
Even then, please realize that many people will pressure or shame you into doing way more for way longer than what you feel comfortable with or had initially planned upon.
Even self professing Christian people will try to take advantage of you.)
I can guarantee you that if you were to help these adoptive families with errands, house cleaning, or child care so the parents can get a break – whether it’s one time or on a repeated basis over months – if you were ever to need their help months or years later when you are the one who is under-going your own problems, the majority of these same parents would not help you.
These parents – and these are the very same parents you helped by babysitting their kids for free, or cleaning their homes for them – would either pretend not to get your calls or texts where you ask for their help, or some of them would out-right scream at you that you don’t deserve their help, even though you previously helped them.
Most would show no gratitude for anything you did for them and would leave you in the lurch in your time of need. I had this dynamic play out numerous times during the years I was very codependent with friends who used me and took advantage of me to get their needs met.
How Realistic Are These Parents Being?
Honestly, I’m not sure how fair or realistic it is for these parents to expect a church to take on the monumental, expensive, exhausting, jack-of-all trades, tasks of what private, for-profit, or governmental agencies to do.
For churches to step into this regular care-taking role to troubled adopted children, and be efficient and helpful, they’d have to replicate already-existing secular groups and specialize in tasks.
How realistic is it for a parent of a troubled child who wants a church to pitch in, to expect a church to, on a regular basis, to provide specialized child care for special needs children, to also act as free maid service, and/or as a free lawn care maintenance service, free therapists (to listen to the parent complain for hours monthly), free butlers, and free chauffeurs?
I don’t have any interest in adopting a child (if others want to, that’s fine, but I don’t want the work or responsibility).
I don’t want to run over and fold laundry or go grocery shopping for these exhausted parents.
I already wasted 35+ years stuffing my own needs down to help other people.
I notice, as I look back, that a lot of people were more than happy that I helped them, but they very rarely helped me in return.
I was worn down after 30+-35+ years of rescuing, helping, and trying to fix people and doing kind-hearted gestures for them. No more!
No More Expectations of Church Help
Consequently, I no longer expect or look to churches or Christians to help me. I realized years ago that most of them are selfish clowns.
Yes, Christians will coax you into taking on big, “godly” sounding tasks, such as adopting orphaned children from impoverished nations, but if that kid turns out to have a mental and/or physical health disorder that requires your 24 hour a day surveillance,
will those Christian jerks who cajoled you into adopting that kid in the first place help you by babysitting the kid for several hours so you can get some rest?
LOLOLOLOLOL, no, of course not, you naive fool! 😂
This is exactly what 99% of Christians do, they sucker you into following a certain rule in life, or taking on some task, but when it doesn’t work out, they are no where to be found.
They won’t lift a finger to help but just judge or criticize you for admitting you’re drained, need help or encouragement – and this is after you’re in this lousy position after following THEIR advice or suggestion!
The demonic betrayal and perverse hypocrisy needs a new term coined when referring to such Christians – maybe “Christ-holes” would work? 😂 I don’t know.
I’ve learned in middle-age to tune out Christians concerning stuff like this, and I no longer expect them to help me, grant me empathy, or to have actual, practical solutions that work for whatever problems in life.
I gave up on those expectations years ago.
If a Christian is advising you to go adopt a kid, you need to seriously ponder it. Your first instinct should probably be to think, “this sounds like a bad idea,” or, “I have a bad feeling about this.”
If a Christian says, “Follow these rules, and God will grant you a spouse,” think long and hard about that.
If you don’t, if you don’t question Christian advice you receive, you can end up wasting years of your life or your mental or physical health on a thankless task.
This post was edited after publication to correct typing errors and to add more commentary
(Link): Mother Suffocated Toddler Son To Death Because She “Didn’t Want Him Anymore” and apparently posted photos of his corpse on her Facebook page – so much for motherhood making women more godly, loving, and ethical!
(Link): When You’re in Imbalanced, Unfair Relationships – You’re the Free Therapist, The Supportive, Sounding Board Who Listens to Other People’s Non-Stop Complaining, But They Don’t Listen to You – re: The Toilet Function of Friendship