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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. WBN

    Well, of course, many Christians do adopt (we have a half dozen families who have adopted in our congregation), and almost all Christians are involved (directly or indirectly) through their churches' and/or denominations' ministries to hurting or orphaned kids. Many more such kids are loved and assisted through inner city ministries, Bible clubs, and food programs, as well as local church programs that involve them and our disaster relief ministries in natural crises. Our church has helped kids from troubled families with our direct involvement with a women's drug treatment center and a transitional housing ministry. Out of the millions of "Southern Baptists" or any other group, there are high percentages of senior or lower income adults who are not eligible to adopt. Christians should continue to care for the fatherless and motherless, and even increase their efforts; they are already busy at it, however.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
  2. El Kababa

    My experience with Christians is all bad. For the most part, they are not good people. I guess being adopted by a Christian family is better than nothing.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
    • Killingtheevilwithin

      We've done more good than evil. Quit being a troll

      June 16, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • emily

      they are always pushing their obnoxious views in peoples faces. i wish all the christians would SHUUUTTT UPPPPPPP

      June 17, 2011 at 12:00 am |
    • dm

      @Killingtheevilwithin, apparently you haven't heard of the Inquisition or burning of witches or Vlad the Impaler or Pedophile Priests , etc....I could go on but why. The sad thing is I can't think of any good Christians have done and shoving Jesus on thy neighbor doesn't count as good in my book.

      June 17, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • Christy

      I'm sorry you haven't had any good experiences with Christians. That's unfortunate because Jesus said that people should know us by our love for one another. I agree that many Christians (including most that have been commenting on this article) do a poor job of living the gospel that Jesus called us to live. I'm sorry.

      June 20, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
    • frank

      I've had some positive experiences with Christian women, but the experiences were far from Christian.

      June 20, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
  3. Matt

    I know this may not fly in a society obessed with labels, but how about juding people based on how they are as people? I mean forget gay, straight, christian, atheist, muslim, whatever and just look at that person as a individual and not as a representive of a whole group then make a judgment. Whether it is as a parent or otherwise. I think I may be too idealistic but can't we just make these judgements as how we are as individual human beings and nothing else?

    June 16, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • ANGRY MOB WITH PITCHFORKS AND TORCHES

      A BLASPHEMER!!!!
      GET HIM!!!

      June 16, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • Andrea

      Not in America... 🙁

      June 16, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  4. are you stupid?

    i think less religious should be adopting and having kids in general. this way, their loony beliefs that plague the world will die off sooner.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
  5. HH

    MYTH: kids placed in adoption were unwanted.

    MYTH: all kids in foster care were abused. Some had their parents pass away, and no one to care for them. Some were not abused, but their parents are in the prison system. You'd also be appalled at what reasons are used by CPS and the courts to terminate parental rights.

    MYTH: all kids in foster care want to be adopted. Many don't. In some states the child's consent is required for this, and the ages vary.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • El Kababa

      MYTH: Adopt a kid and you'll be happy forever after.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • Cason

      El K, who said that? No one has said it will be easy. But it is an extraordinary gift to a child who needs it. And that doesn't go to say that you will be miserable because of it either.

      June 17, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  6. Reality Check

    Have to agree with Scott Price. We know many, many families that have adopted, or tried to adopt. We ourselves adopted one, tried to adopt another. We know a family who adopted 6 from Mexico, one that tried to adopt 5 from Russia, and one that adopted 10, mixed race and various needs from the USA. In reality, the politically correct crowd makes adoption really difficult and really precarious.

    Sorry, but the implication that Christians just sit on their duffs on this matter is far from the truth.

    Many of the comments about Christians attached to this article are just obnoxious, abusive, childish, hateful, and ultimately Christophobic. Propaganda works real well, but only for a while.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
  7. myklds

    Should the author exerted some extra effort to do some research or interview the side of (Christians) to those who are against ga-ys to adopt to know the reasons of their opposition and included it in this lenghty article, this would have been unbiased and impartial.

    Or, (as a participant of safe families for children) had he not overlooked the high risk or possibility of s-e-x-ual abuse that the children would be facing, he's the one (the author) who put up or shut up at the very start.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
  8. truly sad, sad situation

    I am a christian and I think I am too old to adopt. I had a friend who's adoptive mother was very old and passed away before she was 18 leaving her an orphan again. I also had a friend who adopted children from the foster system. She was a loving mother but we suspect the birth mothers drug abuse caused mental problems for these kids. They are following in the latter's footprints. Still there are plenty of positive examples of adoptions. I would never suggest that these children only go to people of my faith or beliefs. Christianity should be more than just the doctorine of this church or that one. God is the God of love. Discrimination is hate.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
  9. mary jane jones

    honestly...i'd rather run down a christian with my car than look at one...they are america's taliban and will not be happy until we live in a theocracy

    June 16, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • Mensaboy

      Most Christians that I know do not fit your description and are perfectly happy with the separation of church and state. You on the other hand, seem to have fantasies about killing people, and should seek treatment before you really hurt someone.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
    • Jimmy Crackcorn

      wow your a freak and should really get some mental health help immediately. Can I judge all atheists by your behavior? LOSER

      June 16, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • H. E. Vincent

      OK lady. You tell me when and where to be so you can run over me. Let us see if you can put your money where your mouth is. I live in Washington, IN, and I will travel to meet you halfway. I've nerve enough to stand there if you have anything more than your fat mouth to work with. I'll bookmark this post and keep up to see if you have enough nerve to move your fat rear and mouth this direction.
      Bookmark is done oh great mouth! You have the name and the city/state.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
    • paul

      blinded by Satan!

      June 16, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
    • GAW

      @ mary jane jones You are giving atheism a bad name.

      June 17, 2011 at 1:29 am |
  10. Practical

    A number of families in our church have adopted. One couple who after 10 years tryig ended up adopting 5 african american and mixed race children. Other couples in our chuch have adoped 1-2 children of other races. No white adoptions that I am aware of... A old friend with 3 kids adopted a child from china. The wife had done mission work in asia and felt a burden for that part of the world where adoption is rare and blood lines prohibit some children from ever being adopted.

    I don't know why the author is saying christians don't adopt, in my area this has been going for 40 years. My wife is the result of a christian adoption.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • SmartPotato

      Your wife is the "result" of biological parents, silly. Perhaps you mean her demeanor...

      June 16, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • El Kababa

      But not YOU. Others, not you

      June 16, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
  11. Jerome

    Let it be known that children are being stolen by the establishment and placed for adoption, Children being taken away from grandma and placed with persons who are looking for a right off.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • Jimmy Crackcorn

      Explain to me why I should listen to somebody who is too stupid to know the difference between "write" and "right"? Moron.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
  12. Liz the First

    I always want to ask folks who have anti-Choice bumper stickers on their cars how many children they've personally adopted. if the answer is 'none,' then they're just one more hypocrite for 'life.' the best cartoon i ever saw with regard to this issue showed a street urchin of around 5 crawling out of the shadows in an alley and tugging at the pant leg of a man in a suit walking with a very well-dressed woman. one carried a briefcase with an anti-choice label. they looked down at the pitiful child with utter disdain. the caption read, 'what more do you want from us, we saved you from an abortion!' that sums up the whole anti-Choice movement. they feel no sense of responsibility to the thousands of unwanted children they insist come into the world to be someone else's problem. they're too busy passing judgement on anyone different from them to actually help solve the problem they've helped to create. good luck changing this.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • Percysmama

      Very well said. I have alway said these people do not adopt, making them hypocrites.they take no responsibility for them after birth.

      June 16, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • Greg

      Liz, I say let's remove the term ABORTION from CHOICE and get down to brass tacks... Freedom of CHOICE means a woman has a right to decide herself what happens to HER body. You can add anything at the end of that if you want to. Freedom of choice to choose cosmetic surgery. Freedom of choice to smoke, drink, or be lewd. Freedom of choice to be a good person and love, nurture, and support whatever causes and choices she herself decides. THAT, in my opinion, is what Roe v. Wade was about, the fetus was just the example in that case, but really it could have been about any other thing that someone decided you should have no personal CHOICE over your own self.. I agree that those other folks seem to think that they've 'saved' a child from being aborted, but then have no further action required of themselves.. It's all just kinda sad and pathetic that they can't see the bigger issue. Look at it another (hypothetical) way: they save the baby, then taxpayers spend 18 years supporting the unwanted child, then when the child gravitates toward lawlessness (joined the gang family because they easily accepted him/her and built up their self esteem for devious reasons, 'cause nobody else stepped up and was actually there to love them and guide them) then commits a horrible crime, then the taxpayers end up paying another 20 years to life on top of it all, along with all the carnage that goes along with it, what's the cost to society then? The flip side is the kid may just actually grow up, be productive, and find the cure for cancer even without that support system in place... it really is a crap shoot, isn't it?

      June 16, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • Vicky

      Liz, you don't know much about adoption. You speak as if there is a plethora of babies just waiting for adoptive homes when, in fact, there are very long waiting lists of couples waiting to adopt infants (some people wait years and years). When women in our country have unplanned pregnancies, they typically do not choose adoption. In America, there should be no children in foster care. The children in America waiting for adoption through the foster care system were birthed by women who could have chosen an adoption plan for their babies but did not, they could have aborted the pregnancies but chose not to, they could have dropped the infants off at a hospital, police station, fire station, but chose not to. There simply is no excuse in our country for a woman to be "burdened" with a baby she does not want.

      Why do you think so many thousands of Americans choose to do international adoptions? They choose to go to Russia, China, Malaysia, Guatemala, Africa, etc. primarily because they can't get infants in America.

      When my husband and I struggled with secondary infertility, we were discouraged by the long waiting lists for domestic adoptions. We considered foreign adoptions through China, Russia, and Guatemala. We prayed long and hard about the direction we should take and finally decided to wait for an American infant of any race. Even then, we waited more than a year. We even contacted Bethany Chrisitian Services (the one the author went through) and they turned us away saying they had very few birth mothers and the wait would be several years.

      We feel we lucked out when our daughter was placed with us. Two months after she was born, a co-worker of mine contacted the agency we went through and was told they should consider a foreign adoption because they just weren't getting any women in who wanted to choose an adoption plan.

      The author needs to get off of his high horse and stop patting himself on the back. He adopted an infant who had hundreds of families waiting to adopt her. If he wants to give a home and a loving family to a child who needs it, he ought to adopt an older child from the foster care system. My husband and I did nothing noble by adopting an infant and neither did this author. We didn't do it to "save a child"; we did it because our family didn't feel complete. We did for ourselves. As we were waiting for a birth mother to pick us, we met more than 70 people (couples and single people) using our adoption agency and waiting for a baby.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
  13. James

    Just because you are a Christian does not mean you would make a great parent. This guy needs to get off his high horse. Yea there might be a problem but the problem is people having children when they should not. Sorry but the costs and the risks can be huge not to mention the problems that can arise when the loco parents come looking for there kids.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
  14. Professor

    My wife and I are dedicated, Bible-believing Christians. We are currently trying to adopt a child, but the process is long and difficult (and VERY EXPENSIVE!!)

    We recently attended an adoption class, held at a Christian adoption agency. This class was full of young Christian couples willing to adopt children. I don't understand why the author of this article seems to think that Christians aren't interested in adopting children. Of course we are!

    We need more Bible-believing Christians in this country, perhaps, to adopt all of the children. Unfortunately, most Americans are not Bible-believing Christians.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • Percysmama

      It is because you are only willing to adopt white kids. There are plenty of kids out There who need a home and sometimes only a gay couple will take them in. Ideally a child will have a mother and father, but it is much better to have a home. Some children just need a home and if a good person is willing to love them that is what they need not your silly Christian values which do not get them a home.grow up and shut the bible.

      June 16, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • HH

      You're exactly the people who SHOULDN'T adopt. GOD decides who is a "real" Christian or not..... a person does not have to be a fundamentalist in order to be a "real" Christian. A Christian believes in the messages of Jesus. I grew up in an adoptive home like yours. Thank God I got away from those evil people who spread hate in the name of God.

      June 16, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • Steve

      Percysmama is clearly distorting the facts. Many Christians I know are adoping. When my wife and I tried to adopt (finally adopting two children), the District of Columbia would not let us be considered for adopting there because we were not both black. We would have been happy to adopt a child of any race, but the social workers would have none of it. At the same time, they were saying that they had too many children and needed to arrange for gay couples to adopt. I guess they were saying that Christians need not apply but gays were welcome. I'm frankly sick of racial america–My wife and I are a normal couple and we were shoved out the door because we weren't radical enough.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • Percysmama

      I have white friends who are deeply religious and adopted through the foster care system, one half white/half black child and one very dark skinner African American. I think there is more going on. There are lots of babies out there. They are now looking for a third any color.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  15. Rudedog

    When my wife and I adopted a baby 21 years ago, they asked about our religion. We are Catholic yet they still let us adopt a baby. I am glad I never left him alone with the priest.
    I am still outraged at my church for this scandal and think a child would be safer with a gay couple than a priest.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • Practical

      A lot of the priests are gay and pedophiles.

      June 16, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • Matt

      I will never excuse the actions of the Catholic church regarding the abuse of children. But Please do not disparage the entire priesthood for the actions of some Priests. Many Catholic Priests are good and caring individuals who will never harm children. I think its grossly unfair and bigoted to judge everyone on the actions of some and you should be ashamed to do so. What if this we're a Rabbi? Could you level the same general insults? This level of ignorant acusations is just as bad in my mind as those who don't believe a gay couple couldn't raise a healthy and functional child. Just saying ignorance and bigotry cuts both ways.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
  16. Rocky

    One problem left out of this article is the closemindedness and hatred of so many people in our society. I have known many Christians, clergy included, who are decent, kind people, and many other Christians who do not practice what they preach. And the same goes for non-Christians, gay individuals, straight individuals, and any other characteristic you can think of–good and bad, kind and mean, etc. I think we have to be honest about the people who do not want cohabiting or gay individuals to be parents–they feel a deep-seated hatred that they may not even recognize themselves as hatred. And I don't think hatred is too strong of a word. What else would drive people to go out of their way to deny people their own private right to a loving family? If you made a list of 100 possible activities for today, would that be on your list? If we can get people to recognize their hatred, which, incidentally, does not appear to me to be a biblical virtue, we would be solving a real social problem.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • Rudedog

      AMEN!!

      June 16, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
  17. Mark

    Christians should not be allowed to procreate, let alone adopt.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • John

      Which christians?

      June 16, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • dnallohlum

      HATER!

      June 16, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  18. El Kababa

    Christians are a bunch of gasbags who only want to lecture the rest of us on how bad we are and how good they are. If every Christian disappeared from the earth tonight at sunset, the world would be running 15% better by sunrise.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • John

      If all the christians were gone overnight it would be a really bad year for you.

      June 16, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • I'm Annoyed

      How ridiculous.

      June 16, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • Practical

      NO – Real christians KNOW how bad THEY ARE and why they need forgivenss. None of use are sin-free enough to cast the first stone.

      However, if you are doing something which hurts me or someone else, NO one needs to be a Christian to tell you to stop.

      Go ahead and do what you want – DON'T HURT ANYONE ELSE IN THE PROCESS. If you are hurting someone in anyway, it doesn't matter what religion a person is they have a right to stop you.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • El Kababa

      Yeah, right, the rapture. If all Christians disappeared that would mean that they had been raptured into heaven.

      You know, that guy left 2,000 years ago, saying he'd be right back, and he hasn't shown up yet. I think we should quit waiting.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
  19. Vanessa

    Thank you!! This article sums up my thoughts exactly. If Christians want to be anti birth control and anti abortion then they had better be ready to take care of all of the children born to parents who can't or won't take care of them.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • blaum

      ah....yes.... it's so simple for you. The Christians are the ones who are now responsible for the lack of self disicpline and the lack of responsibilty of all. I'm sorry for your ignorance. People of any denomination have the right to be anti abortion or anti birth control..... your weak point of "they had better be ready to take care of all of the children born to parents who can't or won't take care of them" certainly couldn't be more incorrect. Thanks for playing.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • El Kababa

      "Christians" are a bunch of gasbags. In a recent survey, half of the Christans who claimed they went to church last Sunday were lying. they are a generation of vipers.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  20. Jason

    I think the last thing we need are more children being raised in Christian households.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • Joe

      Second.

      June 16, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • John

      I suppose you ar also a racist biggot.

      June 16, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • I'm Annoyed

      And I think the opposite. Regardless of what you believe, a child who grows up in a Christian home and lives a Christian lifestyle will be more likely to avoid violence, drugs, and other potentially dangerous vices. They will learn to love others and live for others rather than just for themselves. I can't possibly see how you could disagree with these values, even if you aren't a Christian or a believer in any other religion.

      I am tired of people trashing Christians without providing any reasons why. I think you are wrong, Jason, and many other RATIONAL people do too, including non-Christians.

      June 16, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • blaum

      hilarious....
      what a ridiculous statement....

      please... if a thought comes to your mind next time.... just let it go....

      June 16, 2011 at 11:13 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.