Friday, October 30, 2009

God and Adoption

Here's some heavy stuff to chew on:

* the "cultural" advantage
* God adopted us, so adoption is good - right?
* Rescued from Buddhism: A brief history of the Christian adoption movement

In the interest of honesty, I'll tell you two things...

1. I am uncomfortable with the current promotion of adoption from within the Christian community. I'm not ready (or perhaps able) to articulate why. But I do not equate God's adoption of humanity to the adoption of children. Third Mom says is better than I can:
But the "Christian adoption movement," which some Christians claim has been given God’s approval because he “adopted” us, has become something unto itself. When you read the sites of those who promote it, you find that it no longer has anything to do Christ or Christianity or Christ-like behavior, but instead is all about pounding the point home that because that because there are five references to God's adoption of humanity in the Bible, we should all go out and adopt. Those who do adopt get a kind of theological atta-boy: See we adopted an orphan, and since God adopted us this is a good thing and we’re good people!
I do believe that God brought these children into our lives. But the path to get here wasn't all sunshine and roses. And just because I believe that God brought us together does not mean that this arrangement was God's first choice. This, to me, is not the stuff of theological back patting.

2. GG came to us wearing a jade Buddha. I removed it. Felt guilty. We're saving it for him along with other keepsakes from China. Why did I take it off? That's hard to articulate as well. One is easy. I actually thought it was rather tight, pokey, and had the potential to choke him as he slept. But it also didn't match our belief system; growing up in our home, he will be raised as a Christian. I couldn't raise him Buddhist even if I wanted to. No more than I could raise him Chinese. I'm neither Buddhist, nor Chinese. I honor his past. I respect it. But I don't have the ability to continue it. I can only be the best third mother I can with the knowledge I have.

I know that makes some people really angry. "You shouldn't adopt if you aren't going to uphold _____________(from his past)." But I can't.

What I can do, however, is work mightily to respect his past.

If one of my children was adopted to China, I wouldn't expect the new Chinese family to teach the child my belief system. But I would expect them to show respect for his past with me.

Tough stuff.


Jennifer said...

Wow. I clicked around..following links from your post and read none with great thoroughness, but got the picture....Wow. What a complicated bit to navigate. As I've said before, I admire your honesty and courage as you travel this road. Praying you know God's love and leading as you seek to communicate that love to your kids.

Teddi said...

Apologize ahead of time for the novel. I've been thinking about this a lot, and hope that I can express my feelings the way I intend.

My feelings about adoption and Christianity have been changing/developing in the last year or so. I think that I do believe that Christians have a (I hate to say "moral obligation" because I don't like the connotation, but I can't think of a better phrase) to adopt. Not "because there are five references to God's adoption of humanity in the Bible" but because there are dozens of places in the bible where it is clearly stated that God's people are expected to "care for the orphan."

While there are several ways to "care for orphans" other than adoption (sponsorship into foster care, mentoring, etc.), and while those "other ways" might be all that people in certain life stages or circumstances can do, the reality is that what "orphans" truly need is a home. So I'm really starting to believe that if a Christian is of the age to parent, and they have the financial ability to parent another child, then they ought to be looking into adoption.

And yes, absolutely, those adoptions should be ethical--the need for parents should be real, and not just due to poverty. But I don't agree that only adoption of "true orphans" (those with no living parents/relatives) is acceptable. Honestly, there are lots of kids in foster care in the US who have many living relatives, not one of which is emotionally or otherwise capable of parenting them. And it's not just about money. Those kids deserve real families. They deserve permanency. They deserve to not live in limbo for years and years. I'm guessing if that's the case in the US, it's probably also the case in other countries, too.

Lately, I sit in my church and look at all of the comfortably middle class families with their 2.5 tweens/teens, and I think of all of kids in this country and around the world who don't have permanent homes, and I feel sad. And more than a little angry. And I guess I'm starting to believe that if those folks really want to be the people of God, then they should be doing what God repeatedly told us to do.

Last thought. Someone close to me has told me that since I've adopted twice, I've "done my fair share." I think that's an utter crock. I can do more, and so I should do more. Not as some sort of "holy mission," but because I've been blessed with the resources to give a home to children who need a home, and because I love being a mother more than anything on this earth.

richmomma said...

Thanks for such a thoughtful post, Teddi. Here's how confused I am...I agree with everything you said. Maybe what I don't like is the *way* I feel like adoption is being (for lack of a better term) *sold* in the Christian community. It really rubs me the wrong way. Do you know what I'm talking about? It feels kinda like a "do this and get a pat on the back" kind of sales pitch? Maybe? I don't know. I'm very conflicted.

Teddi said...

I guess I haven't seen that kind of message on any of the blogs I read. What I've seen is more along the lines of "it is the heart of God that His people care for orphans, and what orphans need more than anything are families, so get busy."

My biggest struggle with the issue has been trying to reach a place where I can encourage the people I know to look into adoption without coming off as angry and judgmental. Probably because I am angry and judgmental. ;-p

richmomma said...

>Probably because I am angry and judgmental. ;-p

It's why we're friends. ;) (Cause I'm the same way!)

Todd said...

First, Cynthia, thank you for directing me to this thoughtful interchange about adoption and Christianity.

Secondly, I, like Teddi and yourself, am convinced that scripture does ask us to care for the least of these, including orphans. God has set a precedent by adoption us. But I also believe that we are not all gifted to do the actual caring for children from unfortunate circumstances.

Thank you for including me in this thought provoking dialogue.

Margie said...

Hi, there, thanks for mentioning my post. I appreciate the dialog here - this is exactly what the adoption community needs.

Teddi is thinking exactly the way everyone should be about this - thinking it through and carefully determining if an adoption truly serves a child in need of a family, rather than a family looking for a child. I'm really glad to read that.

Thanks again!

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