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. Aaron

    Everything I got out of my years worth multiple-week church camps, denominational conventions, and mandatory church attendance when the doors were open was that Christians were to preach the Word, to come out of the world and be different, to be a light unto the world by example, to forgive, to not cast stones, to turn the other cheek, to not resist evil, and to help the sick, comfort the imprisoned, feed the hungry, and clothe the poor. Over and over, example after example, the major theme is love your neighbor and your enemy. Vengeance is not yours.

    Preach the Word, not enforce it. Jesus didn't say, "Here are my commandments... make sure everyone follows them while I'm gone!" It said to come out of the world; not reach into the world and codify the Bible.

    Yet, here are the Christians coming out in droves telling people who they judge to be sinful (as if anyone's blameless by biblical standards) and unfit that they can't do what God commanded them to do – which is to take care of those in need. And who is more in need that orphaned children? If you believe Jesus is coming back, while the Son of Man is separating the goats from the sheep, I wonder how you'll explain your vote on this issue. Something like this, "You see, Jesus, we knew their hearts. We knew you wouldn't want sinful people taking care of children so we made it illegal. We knew from your teachings of love, compassion, forgiveness, meekness, and service to those in need, that you wouldn't stand for this sort of thing, so we stood in their way – in your name, of course. We wanted to ensure that only non-sinners were able to adopt needy children, so we wrote some laws to see to it and hired some men with guns and prisons to enforce it."

    I was orphaned and you prevented people from helping me? Really? Because you decided their sins were worse then yours?

    The best thing I ever did was lose my faith and stop hanging out with Christians.

    June 17, 2011 at 2:19 am |
    • Fly Guy in SJ

      WRT the general commentary of the article, I call bull. Christians are the adopting-est people around.

      WRT the court decision, co-habiting (= not married) people shouldn't be allowed to adopt because their likelihood of staying together is much lower than for married people (which isn't that great, either, but it's the best we've got). If they can't demonstrate that level of commitment to each other, they don't have the lever of commitment adoption takes, either (I know people with adopted kids, and believe me, it takes a lot, esp. because they are all special needs kids; yes, all those people are Christians).

      As for your loss of faith, I'm sorry that happened and will pray you get it back. Probably the best Christian I know is a former atheist. She's my wife, and is a better Christian than I, a "cradle Christian."

      Peace be with you.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:09 am |
    • Dcraw5566

      Fly Guy, you shot your own argument in the foot. Gay couples who want to adopt CANT marry. Many have them have been together for years and years. There isn't any reason to deny them the right to adopt. Studies support that the mental health of children raised by gay couples is just as good as those raised by straights.

      June 17, 2011 at 4:08 am |
    • stepasidesue

      Amen! The most judgmental people ever, Christians!

      June 17, 2011 at 9:01 am |
    • JOregon

      "Amen! The most judgmental people ever, Christians!"
      That is a pretty judgmental thing to say.

      June 18, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  2. JKC

    Let's have a compromised solution in this country for solving the constant argument and fight between pro-life and pro-choice groups. We repeal the Roe vs. Wade decision and mandate every pro-life citizen to adopt an unwanted child. Otherwise, shut up and forget about making abortion illegal.

    June 17, 2011 at 1:28 am |
    • Sharon K.

      As long as they don't go to catholic priests.

      June 17, 2011 at 1:39 am |
    • william

      JKC and Sharon:

      Wow! An absurd self-serving solution and an anti-Catholic response within a few sentences. I'm impressed!

      June 17, 2011 at 1:56 am |
    • Shawn

      The person who wrote this article obviously does not understand the Bible and Christ's teachings. God doesn't condem the sinner, just the sin. Christ's blood was shed on the cross for forgiveness of ALL sins. God knows what is best for people and he forgives all sinners who call on him, but sin has consequences therefore he tells us to avoid it. To say that Christians do not adopt children is ludicrus. My sister has there kids from her marriage with her husband and the went on to adopt a child from Korea and a boy from Ethiopia and all their children are loved and special in their lives.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:46 am |
    • Bill the Cat

      Make it much less expensive to adopt, and I'd be all for it.

      June 17, 2011 at 8:32 am |
  3. jake

    My parents were foster parents for 10 years. The first girl they took in was 5. It was an emergency placement because she and her brother could not be in the same foster home. Both had been abused and were acting out the abuse on each other. The reason the girl had to go to our home is that she had to be the youngest and there could not be around other abused children. The was only a temporary placement because my parents had 3 teenage boys and knew the risk if there were any allegations.

    There certainly are great kids in foster care. I met a lot of them. I also know foster kids who will never led normal lives, who even in elementary school were showing signs of mental illness or are so affected by their mother's drug & alcohol use that they will never live normal lives.

    I have no issues with gays adopting, though that the gay couple I know who have adopted were woefully unprepared for the issues with children adopted from the foster care system. They wanted to be parents. I'm not sure they truly wanted to be the parent of 3 special needs siblings. They adopted a sibling set of 4 kids, the youngest was a baby, but in order to get the baby, they had to adopt the 2, 4, & 7 year old as well. The two oldest had been in half a dozen foster homes and had been abused in many of those homes. It's sad situation, and I commend those who can take in those kids, but it's also hard to adopt when you need to put special needs former foster care kids in daycare.

    June 17, 2011 at 1:25 am |
  4. Dan Semencar

    Something in this article seems a little strange. I should say something is not addressed by the author. Do Christians adopt more as a percentage to other or all other groups? Just another liberal looking for an excuse to bash Christianity. No facts in the article to back-up his assertion that Christians are not pulling their weight in this issue. It seems most adoption advocacy groups are founded/ supported by Christian churches or groups in America. Can we some stats Mr. Locy? Your disdain for Christianity is transparent and your article is juvenile in tone and substance. My fifth grade nephew can give you some pointers about backing up claims with facts.

    June 17, 2011 at 1:24 am |
    • Doug

      Gotta love people who bash articles while completely missing the point. The author is Christian, and points out that some Christian churches do put their money where their mouth is to support adoption. However, his simple point - which is indisputible - is that if even 0.1% of Christians adopted a child today, we would completely eliminate the orphan problem in our country. People fighting against gay adoption claim to be supporting the best interests of children, but if you asked a foster child to choose between a permanent home with a gay couple or a life of foster care, the vast majority would choose the gay couple. The first goal should be to find a loving home for every child. I would bet that Christians are more likely to adopt, but that is not the point; as long as there are children that can not find a home (a particular issue with diasbled children), fighting to keep a child out of any loving home is a horrible misdirection of our energies.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:21 am |
  5. blake

    Mr. Locy, I also have two adopted children and am a Christian. I find you to be dispensor of bad advice. Christians do need to demonostrate their faith in tangible ways, but encouraging them to disengage from the culture wars is way off base. Both our actions and our words can and should be very powerful. Demonstration and proclamation.

    June 17, 2011 at 1:05 am |
  6. thes33k3r

    Forget it Locy. You're dealing with religious zealots. In their worldview, the ends justify any means.

    June 17, 2011 at 1:01 am |
  7. Dan

    If more abortions were allowed, and paid for by tax dollars there wouldn't be so many "homeless" children. Why is it the self procaimed Jesus people want to be able to tax me to support these kids but won't spend the same tax money to abort them before they are born? And to those who would say "too bad your parents didn't", I agree...the universe existed just fine before you or I became part of it, it will survive when we are again not part of it.

    June 17, 2011 at 1:00 am |
  8. Jonathan

    They are a good example:

    June 17, 2011 at 12:43 am |
  9. I'm Outside

    I've been saying this for years. Religion is poison, and not only that, it's become a weapon. I can, tomorrow, call myself a Christian and go and do and say the most horrible things to another human being who is considered a second class citizen and be able to rally more support for that than I would if I were to seek support from the very same good Christians to help prevent child abuse.

    June 17, 2011 at 12:41 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      "I've been saying this for years. Religion is poison,"

      Amazing, folks can be bigoted and biased for years but I am open to hear your reasoning. Too many churches and Faithful are doing too much good in the community.

      June 17, 2011 at 12:59 am |
    • Jay

      Mark, they can do that good in the community without being religious, and many of them do. Religion and Christianity don't make people do good, those that help out help out anyway and what happens is the churches take credit often unfairly for that. I agree that religion is poison because it compromises ones reasoning and morality. To be religious often means that one accepts as truth unproven and outlandish claims, and holds deeply damaging views about the nature of one's fellow man.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:23 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>>”Mark, they can do that good in the community without being religious, and many of them do. Religion and Christianity don't make people do good, those that help out help out anyway and what happens is the churches take credit often unfairly for that. “

      Actually I would disagree with a bit of your reply. Folks do not need to be of Faith to do good works in the community or society in large. Not sure how you got that from my post but, ecch I hear this argument all the time.

      That the church takes credit for it is the part that makes me laugh a bit. When the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts do something good in the community they are normally identified by their group. A year or so ago there was a Susan B Kolman Breast Cancer walk-a-thon and there were unions walking together, Volunteer fire company from our town walked and various school sports teams. Well, right there with these other groups were a few churches that walked together in their groups.

      So by using your stance, were all these groups as you said.. “take credit often unfairly”?

      If your anger towards the churches is there then so be it but, on subjects such as helping in the community your hate has you trapped or at the least extremely hampered. If you say the church is taking credit then you have to point each time a bunch of like minded folks get together in the community. If you do not then its just plain ole fashion hate that is in you. The last thing you would want to go on record is a group you despise getting positive acknowledgment of doing good in society.

      Best to snuff any instances of good acts out, huh? 🙂

      Question Jay, if there were two car washes happening a town with one on one day and the second on the following. Say a local car dealer was doing it to support some part of the community, say the senior citizen centers new Air Conditioner. If the first car wash was a group of kids from the Public school did their car wash and had a sign out front with their school logo on it would that be a issue for you? Now the next day the kids are representing Saint Francis High School.... Jay are both taking credit or is just the private religious school taking credit?

      >>>”and holds deeply damaging views about the nature of one's fellow man.”

      Yeah, not like there is that “love thine neighbor thing” that many of Faith hold.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:48 am |
    • Jay

      I'll concede the taking credit part is tenuous to some degree – however the main thrust of my comment was the last part "To be religious often means that one accepts as truth unproven and outlandish claims, and holds deeply damaging views about the nature of one's fellow man"

      That "love thy neighbor thing" is a veneer painted over a deep and disturbing conviction that man is innately wretched and doomed to infinite punishment for merely existing.

      June 18, 2011 at 5:44 am |
  10. itsjustme

    And if you cannot adopt, remember: kids and youths always need a parental figure to look up to.:)

    Consider mentoring, being a Big Brother/Big Sister, coaching, volunteering with youths at your house of worship, etc. - or open your home to the neighborhood kids. Kids need a safe haven and a "cool" place to go - our house was that one in the neighborhood that was.:)

    June 17, 2011 at 12:33 am |
  11. Michael Glanzer

    Right on Jason. We're doing our part. 3 adopted kids so far and counting...
    We can honestly say that we have received more joy from them then they ever will from us.

    June 17, 2011 at 12:30 am |
  12. Le

    The author is very correct although Catholic Charities around the country works hard to promote foster care and whatever else children need. There are many people who contribute to Catholic Charities who cannot adopt or be foster parents. I know of people who considered being foster parents but they did not feel they could be strong enough to be attached to a child and then have it basically ripped from their arms- as that happens too many times. I know of personally of a case like that. Also, on the other hand, I do not understand why people need to spend thousands on IVF and other extreme medical treatments when there are indeed so many children in the world who need love. Now I am curious about the demographic that is most likely to get IVF treatments.... certainly not just christian. That is the biggest shame of all. There was an article recently about a catholic couple using IVF againsst Church doctrine and so many commentators cheered them on. What a shame indeed.

    June 17, 2011 at 12:27 am |
  13. Rev. Henry Bates

    The fact that Christians would cheer the ruling that took children away from loving gay and lesbian parents is proof that not all Christians are good for children. Judgment, according to Jesus, is a grave sin.

    June 17, 2011 at 12:09 am |
    • JTC

      Judging is not a sin, nor was considered one by Jesus.
      Judging unrighteously, not using the correct standard with with to judge, was condemned by Christ.
      He told us to take the "beam" out of our own eye first so then we can take the "speck" out of our brother's eye.
      Note that He did not say "do not worry about the speck in your brother's eye" or "acept the speck in your brother's eye" – He said take care of your own self first – then you will be able to help you brother who does in fact have a speck in his eye – a speck that you need to help him recognize and take out. We are to judge, but to judge righteously (i.e. using the correct standard).

      June 17, 2011 at 12:38 am |
    • newsreel

      yeah, judge righteously to avoid sin. Judging gays marriage adopting is not righteously, so it is a sin. The hypocrites don't want to adopt, but they also want to deny the orphans a chance to have a loving family just because it goes against their belief. Selfish, sin, sin, full of sin here.

      June 17, 2011 at 12:54 am |
  14. Julie @ Willow Bird Baking

    I heard a sermon on the biblical mandate to care for orphans literally 2 or 3 Sundays ago (I love my church), and began praying for the ability to adopt someday. I believe you're exactly right that this is a problem we are responsible for solving.

    June 17, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  15. KansasWrangler

    It would be nice if Christians first adopted Christianity.

    June 17, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • Jon

      LOL! I won't hold my breath.

      June 17, 2011 at 12:13 am |
    • Guin

      Spot on!

      June 17, 2011 at 12:26 am |
    • newsreel

      Right on ! They are in for the rituals and the pretty dresses more than the meaning of the teaching, LOL.

      June 17, 2011 at 12:57 am |
  16. Adoptive Parent

    As the author states, there are literally thousands of beautiful children who desperately need a permanent family and home. Please consider adoption. My brother and sister are adopted, and now as adults have wonderful families of their own. My wife and I are blessed with four children who we adopted. Alhough we have also provided temporary homes to children as foster parents, many of these children were adopted into loving families, while others went to live with a caring biological relative who was willing to step up and raise the child as their own. If you are considering adoption, please pray about it, talk with others, read and investigate...then adopt a child. You will forever be glad you did!

    June 17, 2011 at 12:03 am |
  17. Don

    Michelle Bachmann is running for President of the United States....she has 5 children of her own and 23 foster children....she put her money where her mouth is...

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

      She does not, cannot represent and void the sin of the rest of other christians. The article still has a message for chrisitians at large: put up or shut up.

      June 17, 2011 at 12:59 am |
    • Linda

      And, she's also completely, totally insane.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:19 am |
  18. H. E. Vincent

    There would be a lot less to worry about if people would simply learn their pant(ies) up and their libido down.
    Just look at the immense harm the Weiner-man has just caused with his infidelities. Craziest part is that Slick Willie is mad at the Weiner-man about it because the wife is one of Bill's favorites! That is just too funny for words!

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

      Maybe not as funny as the hypocrisy of Republican Senator David Vitter, who frequented multiple wh**ehouses while married. Instead of being urged to quit the Senate, he received a standing ovation from his fellow Republicans on his return to the Senate.

      June 17, 2011 at 12:20 am |
  19. Zippy

    Sad fact is that it's easier to adopt a child from China than it is to adopt a child already in the U.S.
    Fix that and I'm certain you'll see more adoptions.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • Dave

      This ^^^. I know of too many families who have had adoptable children ripped out of their home at the 11th hour because homeless addict mom or dad claims them after they've already given up rights.

      June 17, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • vsheehan

      no it's not. It cost way more and takes more then a year. A kid already on the adoption roles will take less then a year and cost almost nothing. I have adopted in the US have you?

      June 17, 2011 at 12:29 am |
    • hminy

      My husband and I lost a baby we thought we were going to adopt when his birth mother changed her mind. Now, we are in the process of adopting a child who was born to a young teenager. We love him desperately and he has lived with us since birth. Because of the legal hoops we have to jump through to protect the frankly absurd rights granted to a teenage father who has never expressed the slightest interest in this child, we still face the threat of losing him, months later. I don't regret our decision to adopt for a moment, but when all is said and done, we will have lost a baby and spent more than 6 months living with the terrible threat of losing another. My point: Adopting is a wonderful journey but made incredibly difficult by the U.S. legal system. I can understand why people choose to adopt from overseas or just skip it altogether. If we care about American kids who need homes, we should push to make domestic adoption less difficult.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:05 am |
  20. Roger

    If your wife became pregnant and you were still in the "cannot afford" situation, would you put the child up for adoption or would you keep it and raise it yourselves? I'd guess you'd find a way to keep the child. Just as you'd find a way if a child was left on your doorstep.

    As for getting help from someone else, you see to assume that the government (i.e. everyone else paying taxes) should help you with the cost of adoption. How about your church helping out instead?

    June 16, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
About this blog

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.