November, National Adoption Month, is a perfect time for Christians and churches to celebrate our adoption into the family of God, and to recognize adoption as a wonderful way to build families. It's a time for churches to think about supporting Christian adoption agencies and for families to consider whether they have room in their hearts and homes to provide a home for a needy child. Pastors especially can take the lead by preaching on this subject.
They might also note one troublesome trend: As the Christian Science Monitor reported on Oct. 27, "At the same time the United States is 'importing' increasing numbers of adoptive children from Russia, China, and Guatemala, it is 'exporting' black babies to be adopted in other countries. . . . African-American babies have lagged behind in adoption rates because many Americans don't realize they're available. Media coverage and popular culture have focused on Americans adopting internationally rather than domestically."
It's great to adopt internationally, but we need more pastoral recognition and press coverage of how charity begins at home. It's important to give children from whatever country good homes, but it's also important to display the good options available for African-American babies. It's also important to watch out for three ways in which the left is trying to hijack adoption by using it to redefine family, promote homosexuality, and minimize the importance of religion.
First, some ideologues try to set up a difficult "either/or" by contrasting completely "closed" adoption with the completely "open" form. Completely "closed" means that adoptive parents have no information at all about the background of the child and the birthmom doesn't even have general information about the adoptive family. Completely "open" is almost like long-term foster care in which a child has adoptive parents but also a fully involved birthmother-and some hail "openness" as part of a redefining of family to include a variety of "caregivers" rather than two parents.
In reality, most adoptions now are neither completely closed nor open. For example, many adoptive parents now get full information and meet the birthmom, and some birthmoms receive annual reports on the progress of the child. Some children at age 18, sometimes sooner, meet their birthmoms. Children need a sense of security and belonging, and the confusion that results from having two moms can create problems. At the same time, some birthmoms need the assurance that the children they bore for nine months are safe, and those desires should be met whenever possible.
Second, homosexual advocates continue to push for gay adoption. Radical defenders of this new development say that two adoptive fathers or mothers are just as good as having both a father and a mother. Moderate defenders say that gay adopters give homes to children who would otherwise not have them. But, even laying aside the serious ethical issues, it appears that gay adoption could result in fewer adoptions, since many birthmothers will be reluctant to place their children for adoption if they think placement will be with homosexuals.
Interestingly, here's where the movement toward openness or semi-openness (with birthmothers given the decision as to where their child should be placed) and the gay-rights movement may come into conflict. Will (and should) birthmothers have the right to discriminate by stipulating that children they place for adoption will not be put into a homosexual home? That should be part of a birthmothers' bill of rights.
Third, journalists have tended to ignore or downplay the role of religious and pro-life groups in adoption. Historically, American Christians have been highly involved in adoption, particularly of hard-to-place kids. For example, WORLD has had stories about Christian parents in Maryland who adopted seven children of different races with severe physical or mental difficulties, parents in California who adopted three Down syndrome babies, and parents in North Carolina whose adopted children include one born so prematurely that he could fit in the palm of your hand.
The parents in each case were motivated by love of children but also by their pro-life positions, developed out of a biblical understanding. Organizations that helped these parents and thousand of others have a religious base: The largest adoption nonprofit in the country is still Bethany Christian Services, which has numerous state affiliates. But these groups have been so under-covered in the press that some people think adoption is carried on only by government agencies and for-profit businesses.
At Thanksgiving, we should give thanks that God adopts us, and pray for an increasing willingness to open our hearts and homes to adopt the fatherless among us.