Writing about adoption and Kathryn Joyce’s The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption in Al Jazeera this week, and looking at the ways the Evangelical claims of an orphan crisis hurt kids and families. A bit:
Joyce’s book tells many stories of families taking in children they are simply not equipped to help; the end result can be all-out abuse, neglect or a failed adoption, where the child is uprooted yet again. Failed adoptions are so common that they are now a regular topic at Christian adoption conferences.
Children are not the only ones who can be severely traumatised by adoption. Many women who place their children for adoption report being coerced into relinquishing and living with the grief of having lost a child. The rights and needs of mothers do not register particularly highly with adoption agencies or pro-life groups who claim adoption is a simple alternative to abortion. Many women, whose children were adopted, report that the emotional aftermath is life-long and, because of the lack of closure, worse than a loved one dying.
Joyce is incredibly even-handed and fair in her book, emphasising the good intentions of most people involved. And most people surely do not want to take children from living family members; they certainly do not want to further traumatise children and their biological mothers. But good intentions do not forgive willful blindness, and that is at the root of many of the problems with the adoption industry.
There are of course a great many legitimate adoptions, where the child was genuinely bereft and without living family members willing or able to take him in, or where a mother relinquished a child for adoption fully consensually and without coercion. But there are too many of the other kind, where mothers faced enormous pressure to place their child for adoption, or where the Western demand for adoptable babies led to the creation of an adoption economy in developing nations.
Where children are a good in demand, and where there is a lot of money coming in to pay for that good, bad actors will of course get involved to keep the supply coming. Such an exploitative situation is made even worse when the people on the supply side believe they have god and a religious duty behind them, and where there is a pervasive belief that a Christian home in the US is the best possible home for a child – better, universally, than living in a poor nation, even with a loving but struggling family.
You can read the whole thing here.