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My Take: On adoption, Christians should put up or shut up
June 16th, 2011
03:11 PM ET

My Take: On adoption, Christians should put up or shut up

Editor's Note: Jason Locy is co-author of Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society. He and his wife are adoptive parents and participants in Safe Families for Children, a voluntary alternative to foster care.

By Jason Locy, Special to CNN

When the Arkansas Supreme court struck down a voter-approved initiative that banned cohabitating straight and gay couples from adopting orphaned children, the Christian community predictably erupted.

Byron Babione of the Alliance Defense Fund, a coalition of Christian lawyers, attributed the April ruling to a “political movement afoot to undermine and destroy marriage.” Baptist Press, the publications arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, ran an article that quoted Babione as saying the ruling reflected “a campaign to place adult wants and desires over the best interests of children."

On one hand, these comments aren’t surprising. Conservative evangelicals have decried “the anti-family gay agenda” for decades. On the other, they underscore the way many Christians denounce a social problem that they have no plan for solving.

And the problem here is not ultimately gays adopting — the prevention of which, I believe, was the impetus behind the Arkansas initiative and behind adoption restrictions in various other states. The problem is a global orphan crisis involving tens of millions of children.

In the United States, there are approximately 116,000 foster children waiting to be adopted. That means a judge has either severed the rights of the original parents or the parents have voluntarily signed their children over to the government.

To put this into perspective, we might compare the number of American orphans to the purported 16 million Southern Baptists who attend more than 42,000 churches nationwide. Quick math reveals that there are roughly 138 Southern Baptists for every child in the American foster care system waiting to be adopted. To say it another way, this single denomination has an enormous opportunity to eradicate the orphan crisis in America.

If you’ve spent any time in church, you’ve probably heard a sermon on Noah or Moses or David. But how many sermons have you heard on the biblical mandate to care for orphans?

When was the last time you heard your pastor declare, “if you choose to adopt a child we will stand with you. We will provide respite care, financial help and do everything possible to meet the needs of that child?”

Southern Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Catholics — the Christian Church — can provide safe, loving, permanent homes for these kids. Our faith dictates that we fight for a better way in both words and deeds.

When Jesus asked Peter if he loved him, and Peter responded yes, Jesus didn’t tell him to picket the wolves. He told Peter to feed and tend his sheep.

Some churches and Christian groups are stepping up. Focus on the Family launched a Wait No More initiative in Colorado in 2008, forming partnerships between local churches, adoption agencies and the government in order to encourage families to adopt through the foster care system. As a result, the number of Colorado orphans waiting for a family has been cut in half.

Christianity Today ran a 2010 report headlined “Adoption is Everywhere,” illustrating the trend among churches and Christians who are giving “attention to orphans, adoption, the fatherless, and so on.”

Despite such efforts, the American orphan crisis remains. Too many churches still find it easier to stand behind a megaphone decrying the morality of laws than to stand beside a child in need.

Thousands of orphaned children in America need grandmas and grandpas, embarrassing uncles and crazy aunts. They need someone to teach them to fly a kite and throw a ball and read a book and tie their shoes. They need someone to call mom and dad.

In fairness, adopting a child is not easy and many of these children face difficult adjustments once they’re adopted. They have experienced pain, loss, hurt, confusion and misplaced trust. They have endured physical, emotional and sexual abuse — things most of us don’t even want to imagine.

In 2008, when my wife and I adopted through Bethany Christian Services, the organization educated us on the possible challenges of adopting a child. They informed us that even though our daughter was a baby when we brought her home, she would eventually ask tough questions, as would our friends and family.

But my wife and I know our faith demands action and that sometimes action takes us out of our comfort zone.

As a father of three — two biological children and an adopted child — and a host to a number of children that have needed a temporary home I can tell you these kids need less arguing over who should and should not be allowed to adopt and more families stepping up and saying, “we will adopt.”

It is time Christians decide to either step up or shut up. If a Christian group wants to wade into the discussion over who should adopt, it needs to put its money and manpower where its mouth is.

That means not only challenging families and churches to adopt from foster care (which costs virtually nothing financially) but also to adopt children resulting from unplanned pregnancies, children with special needs and children of mixed race or minority ethnicity.

If Christians’ only desire is to fight the culture wars and score political points, then they should continue to lean on empty rhetoric. But if they truly care about the family and the Bible, they’ll begin caring for children who desperately need a home.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jason Locy.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Opinion • Politics

soundoff (708 Responses)
  1. James Black

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGSvqMBj-ig
    ^

    June 16, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
  2. Kris

    We have two adopted children, tried for the third and had the court return him to a scary situation after two years with us. It is not always the lack of trying that there are so many children out there.

    June 16, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
  3. ollie

    i am so glad a women did a
    make the choice to let me live. and even happier that a Christian women adopted me. i may not ever adopt a child, but as a scared teen i had an abortion, the most horrible mistake i ever made. and i beg of the Lord to never let another women feel the pain i still feel 14 years later. but i also know know the joy my mom gets from me and my kids. life may be hard growing up in a foster home, but at least they get to grow up. every life is important, sacred, and loved by God. i look at the faces of my 5 kids and wonder to this day, what would that child have looked like, what would that baby have meant to another mother, its a selfish thing when so many want a baby and cant.

    June 16, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
  4. Daniel

    We aren't wolves. We're human, and many, many of us are sincere, believing Christians, who wish to adopt because these kids needs homes, and God has given us an orientation, a way of loving, that can make a stable family, but cannot make children. Gay people aren't out to destroy the family. We are trying to marry, and become families. We wish to be family not just for ourselves but for those who have none. I am sorry that people cannot look past what they imagine about us to see this, and I pray for them.

    June 16, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • Bill the Cat

      If you were a believer, you would desire to not sin any more. You would not accept your "orientation" as anything more than a propensity to sin that must be crucified and not celebrated. That is what believers do. They look at their sin and identify it as sin and pray and work to nail that sin to the cross. Repent and crucify your "orientation" and, as Jesus said... "sin no more"

      June 17, 2011 at 8:41 am |
    • Daniel

      Of course I desire not to sin anymore. But I am human, and sinful. So I think badly of people sometimes, and get angry and selfish and don't do all I could do. But I think we are all sinful. What I do not believe is a sin is to love. If I have a divine Creator whose nature is mercy and lovingkindness, and am made in His image, then it cannot be a sin to faithfully love as I am made to love. I think you need to read the Gospel.

      June 17, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  5. Gordon Febillitary

    "It is time Christians decide to either step up or shut up. If a Christian group wants to wade into the discussion over who should adopt, it needs to put its money and manpower where its mouth is."

    How about Christian groups just stop denying basic rights to others based on some bullcrxxp written by axxholes thousands of years ago? If a gay couple wants to adopt a child, let them. What is the problem?

    June 16, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • Andrew

      By "axxholes thousands of years ago" I presume you mean Paul, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, etc.? Ya what a bunch of jerks. Total know-nothings. Maybe we should stop sipping the hatorade and realize that not everyone thinks the way you do. It's weak minded to think that our political or cultural opponents are simply dumb or uninformed and dismissing them as axxholes is not only counter productive but also misguided.

      June 16, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
  6. just another thought

    It seems that everyone has just bypassed what was posted by Fidei Coticula Crux
    People only want to see the ignorance in others and laugh about it or critsize anything that deals with politics and religion. Everyone wants their voice heard and that's understandable. The reality is is that unbelievers and believers will always have there views that are debatable and will never be resolved. We should just live our lifes.... Our lifes as in your own. believe or don't that's what free will is for. I was adopted by white parents from peru and i'm the youngest of 7. all adopted. yes adoption is hard for some people but you must understand that it's not all coming from the same adoption agency. my mother travelled down to peru to get my brother and I and gave up a lot of her time and money to love us the rest of her life. Before us she adopted my brothers from foster care that had disabilities and the other 3 where adopted by my dad from my mom's previous marriage. I was an orphan too and it wasn't that bad FOR ME...I'm not speaking for other orphans. My point is is that my mom spent a lot of time and money to get my brother and I. She spent less money getting my other 2 brothers. To make it clear my brother and I were adopt through a US agency not the peruvian adoption agencies since we had to be made legal. To end this post my parents are both christians. It is an insult to myself, my family, other peruvian adoptees that i've met that have WHITE christian parents, and to the christians that are actually doing something about adopting. Not every christian, baptist, an/or catholics are all the same. Some are pretenders in church's and just want publicity. Some believe.... some are walking with christ..and some are still lost. Don't set your sights on what the church's that want publicity say until you've seen what other church's big and small have done. Also with adopting please note that every agency is different so people that have given the effort to adopt well done. My mom tried 4 agencies until she found one that would help her adopt from out of the country aka until she was accepted. argueing with eachother is not helping children. volunteering your time, donating, and many more things will be just as valuable to kids that have no family. money isn't everything.

    June 16, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
  7. Foot_Note

    Okay, people cat spend thousands on getting fertility treatments, (you gotta have yer spawn of yer dna) yet cant adopt...

    June 16, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • nono

      The topic of this forum is adoption – but since you brought it up, it is NOT the responsibility of infertile couples to adopt children, and there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with wanting a child who is biologically yours. It must be nice to be fertile and not spend years trying to do what so many teenagers, drug addicts, and abusive parents can do NATURALLY, multiple times, with no effort or expense save the tequila shots or crack they did the night they got knocked up. Do NOT pretend to know how infertility feels and for a moment think that you have the right to judge.

      June 16, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • BibelotSheep

      Maybe God doesn't think you need a child...Maybe this is God's way of telling you to adopt...

      June 17, 2011 at 2:55 am |
  8. Buzzy

    My wife and I adopted two wonderful boys from Russia 7 years ago, we were going to go and get another child until I got sick and couldn't pass the medical clearance anymore. We mortgaged our future to do this and would gladly do it again if we could. Why not adopt from America? Simple, the legal system is a nightmare. One of my co-workers adopted in Connecticut and spent months ctying over what the system put her and her husband through. Also, people worry about our legal system reversing an adoption years after it has taken place. The legal system is full of things designed to protect someone's "rights", however, "justice is blind" and often does only what the law allows, which may be in one person's best interest, but from my experience, rarely is it in everyone's best interest. And, there are the incidents such as my brother's friend who went to another state to adopt a set of twins, all arranged. Only to be met by the huge gathering of family at the hospital promising to support the mother in her decision to not go through with giving up her children. Yet these were the same family members who, according to social service, had provider no support to Mom as she struggled to raise her other children as a single Mom. There are a lot of issues here, it's not as simple as right versus left, gay or straight. However it would be nice if some of the zealots on both sides would either put up or shut up. A lot less posturing and a little more action would certainly help an awful lot of kids who need help, help they can't get from rhetoric. Thank-you.

    June 16, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  9. Gabrielle

    We adopted 2 kids from Poland this year. I've always wanted to adopt. In fact, I feel it's my calling from God. Someone wondered why it seems most are adopting internationally. I think it's probably different for each family. For me, I've always felt drawn to international adoption. I've also heard too many horror stories about adopted kids being returned to their birth parents whom they've hardly ever met, here in the US. And with kids in foster care, you have to assume that all the kids are going to have some pretty tough issues. With international, it's a chance. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. Our kids had a hard past. My son angers too fast and can be violent. My daughter is not so difficult, but she blocks a lot of the bad things from her memory. They are both in therapy. Hopefully, it will get better for all of us. Even still, I find lots of reasons to see that these are OUR kids. From my son's crooked pinkies (like mine) to my daughter's artistic skill (I got some of that from my mom). God meant for us to have these kids.

    June 16, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  10. JD

    The author condemns Christians for not doing something that they do at a greater rate than the general population. I don't think he's interested in facts. Ironic, given the way he condemns "empty rhetoric".

    June 16, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  11. Melissa

    This is a great article and I happen to know three couples right now in the process of adopting through Christian organizations. However, all three of these couple are adopting internationally. I'm not sure why it seems that international adoptions are favored over domestic but it is the case from my experience.

    June 16, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • Julie

      Unfortunately, some people adopt internationally (Asian) because it is so obvious they "adopted" they don’t have to say anything and they get recognition as adoptive parents after all if they are going to "adopt' they should at least get recognition and appear righteous. There are many children, mostly minority, in the United States available for adoption however, these “righteous” Christians would rather go all the way to Russia to get a "white" child. SAD SAD SAD... These type of people are a sorry representation of Jesus which is total opposite of Christianity other words they are true NONChristians......God will say get away from me I do not know you.......You may fool your everyone around you but only GOD knows your heart.

      June 17, 2011 at 8:04 am |
    • MomtoChinaGirlz

      Because Julie, The US foster care system is a nightmare. Most kids are not released for adoption until they have been kicked around the system for years- average age of adoption from foster care is 6. You can foster a child for years and have them returned to their "loving" parents, then removed again to be placed in another home – but not released for adoption. I note you do not metion having adopted at all, so are in no position to criticize.
      We were turned down as "too old" to be attractive for a private domestic adoption, but China was generous enough to let us adopt our beloved girls – not as accessories but as our daughters. Transracial adoption is not an attempt to attract attention, it's saying "I can love this child, because my heart is bigger than petty bigotries." It also comes with a host of issues that a good parent tries to address – maintaining your child's connection to their birth curlture, being comfortable with who they are. Not a walk in the park.

      June 18, 2011 at 7:47 am |
  12. TheyNotHim

    Allowing xtians to adopt and brainwash MORE children? This does not seem like a good idea to me. Put down the bible, back away, and never return. God has given me this message to bring to all who will listen...

    June 16, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • john

      yet you keep shoveling hydrogenated oil down your kids throat.

      June 16, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • Sybaris

      Exactly.

      One of the criteria for adopting should be a disbelief in fairy tales and invisble sky daddies. Christians do not set the bar for providing emotionally and physically healthy homes. Prisons are not filled with Atheists.

      June 16, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  13. KS

    Christians are a POX upon mankind

    June 16, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  14. Reality

    The last time I checked, there were few USA children to adopt as abortion continues to be used as "birth control". Those couples who want to adopt go to places like China, Russia or Guatemala.

    June 16, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • KS

      Obviously you haven't checked actual reports and statistics there lots of unwanted kids out there and it's the BS Religious zealots and the court system that make it darn near impossible to adopt a child in this country

      June 16, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • The LORD

      You have never checked and are speaking from pure and total ignorance.

      June 16, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • JulieMS

      It is not the Christians that make adoption hard in the US, it's the high cost and the fear of biological parents wanting them back later and making trouble in doing so for the adopted parents and the kids.

      June 16, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • Reality

      A review of foreign vs. domestic adoptions:

      http://www.americanadoptions.com/adopt/domestic_international

      June 17, 2011 at 12:25 am |
    • Reality

      Then there is this information: http://www.prb.org/.../InternationalAdoptionRateinUSDoubledinthe1990s.aspx

      "International Adoption Rate in U.S. Doubled in the 1990s

      (January 2003) The United States adopts more children from abroad than any other country. The number of foreign children adopted by U.S. parents has increased sharply, and nearly doubled during the 1990s (see Figure 1). At just over 20,000 in Fiscal Year 2002 — less than 5 percent of legal immigrants — international adoptees add relatively little to national population growth, but they contribute to the United States' racial and ethnic diversity and links to foreign countries. And because many adopted children come from a different racial or ethnic background than their American parents, they contribute to the blurring of racial and ethnic boundaries.

      --------------------------–

      One reason for the rise of international adoptions is the dwindling supply of adoptable children within the United States.1 Increased access to contraception, the availability of legal abortion, decreases in the teen birth rate, and reduced social stigma surrounding unmarried parenting are among the reasons that there are fewer U.S.-born children available for adoption. Some demographers also point to the postponement of marriage and childbearing as fueling the demand for adopted children. Women in their 30s or 40s are more likely to encounter problems getting pregnant and carrying a pregnancy to term than younger women, and some turn to adoption to have the child they want.

      Unmarried American mothers are no longer a common source of children for adoption. Although the percentage of births to unmarried women has increased dramatically since the 1970s, and accounted for one-third of all U.S. births in 2000, many unmarried mothers now keep their children or transfer their children's legal custody to relatives rather than put them up for adoption. Young teenage mothers are less likely to keep their babies, but the birth rate for young teens has fallen steadily since 1991, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

      Another reason why many parents are looking abroad for children is that adopting within the United States is legally complicated, slow, and costly. Public adoptions through the foster care system are less prone to legal snarls but are much slower, making it difficult to adopt children while they are still infants. Less than 2 percent of children adopted through the foster care system in 1998 were infants, compared with 46 percent of children adopted from abroad.2

      Georgia Deoudes, director of policy for the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Inst-itute, sees other reasons that prospective parents turn to international adoption. For one thing, she said, "There seems to be some idea among prospective adoptive parents that adopting internationally is somehow easier or less expensive. That isn't, in fact, true."3 A more likely motivation is that international standards for adoptive parents are in some ways more lenient. Older couples and single adults who might be rejected by private U.S. adoption agencies are more likely to be accepted by adoption agencies in foreign countries. Finally, there appears to be a more clear-cut termination of the birth parents' rights with international adoption that appeals to many prospective parents."

      June 17, 2011 at 12:33 am |
    • BibelotSheep

      Abortion is not used as birth control, silly....BIRTH CONTROL IS USED AS BIRTH CONTROL! If this is true that there are less children to adopt in the USA....THAT WOULD BE A GOOD THING...

      June 17, 2011 at 2:57 am |
    • Reality

      BibelotSheep

      Might want to check with those growing womb babies who never saw the light of day.

      June 17, 2011 at 9:09 am |
  15. Jane

    As an adoptive parent, I agree that the author is spot on.

    June 16, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  16. Jim

    Why should people who hold child-like ideas on an invisible sky deity, adopt children if they are going to perpetuate their silly ideas on another unsuspecting generation?

    June 16, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "invisible sky deity"??

      No one believes in that here.

      June 16, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • runner920

      The idea of the invisible sky deity is no more silly than the idea of organisms magically popping out of alphabet soup hit by lightning.

      June 16, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • Sybaris

      @ runner920

      You obviously have limited knowledge of biological processes and chemistry.

      Stay ignorant or learn. Start by burning your Bible.

      June 16, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
  17. Vincent Pinson

    Ummmmmmmmmm...Christians adopt and foster at higher rates than any other demographic group, as well as serving the underprivleged across the world more than any other group. So what is your argument about Christians not having a "solution" to these social problem? They are letting their sweat and their dollars and the open doors to their homes do the talking, while the Left is just talking.

    June 16, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Seriously?

      "They are letting their sweat and their dollars and the open doors to their homes do the talking, while the Left is just talking."

      Oh please get a grip. There are many wealthy Christians that wouldn't adopt even if you paid them, their nothing more than hypocrites. Why don't you take some of the billions of dollars from the Catholic church to give to the families that want to adopt. Problem solved!

      June 16, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @Seriously?- Are we talking about Christianity as a whole or are you wanting to go by denominations? Because I am pretty sure that the Catholics are not going to be donating money to the Baptists.
      Also, are you going to hold all of Christianity responsible for your theoretical "rich christians" that are not behaving as you think they should?

      June 16, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Marissa C

      I'd like to point out that Catholic Charities helps many children find adoptive parents every year.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
    • MomtoChinaGirlz

      It is entirely posible to be a Christian AND a liberal AND an adoptive parent. It's the right winger's who will use anything as a tool to uphold their desperate bigotry that are being condemned.

      June 18, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  18. Julie

    I agree. Whenever I have a conversation concerning pro life I ask, are you personally willing to adopt one of those unwanted children. I receive many interesting replies not once has someone flat out said yes. I am a Christian and I am not for abortion however; I am more against a child living in this world without experiencing God’s love. The bible says absent from the body present with the Lord which means the second you die you are in God's presence. I take comfort in knowing that if a child is aborted it is with God rather then if it is born to a parent that can’t show it love because it was never wanted in the first place. Christians have all good intentions however; they have become more and more legalistic and have gotten far away from “FAITH”. They rationalize why they can’t take in a child, not sure if they can love another child, can’t afford another child, concerned about their own children being influenced, etc. Pro lifers especially Christians need to understand that their pro life agenda does not stop once that child is born that child is going to need and deserves to be loved just as Christ loved the Church and if you have anything to do with an unwanted child being born you better be ready to step to the plate and be take all responsibility. Christians I ask WHERE IS YOUR FAITH?

    June 16, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  19. mATT

    I am so upset with people claiming to be "Christian" who don't live it every day. They will spend $100,000 to go through fertility treatment. However, maybe the Lord is trying to tell them, "you don't get to have a child, but I want you to use that love and adopt these children." Just think about it for a second. The Lord wouldn't make it easy for you to get pregnant if he wanted you to have kids.

    June 16, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • KS

      God also might be saying to them "you would be a terrible parent so no kid for you"

      June 16, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  20. D Smooth

    Christians hypocritical? No...

    June 16, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.