Hopefully the third time's a charm

Before I get into the subject at hand, I have to apologize to all the a-parents on my blogroll! You fell off!! Several weeks ago I tried another method of blogrolling that I ultimately didn't like. I reversed back to Bloglines, but apparently not 100%. I just realized today when I went to my blogroll looking for a link that you were gone! You're all back again, and I'm so sorry!!

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So now on to the main point. I've collected my thoughts, and hopefully I can make sense of what I was talking about here and here. Yes, this subject is important to me, but I realize it may not be to others. If you do read this, thanks for humoring me.

To understand what's been bugging me, you have to understand my my starting point with the role of religion in adoption - which is that there should be no role at all. Although I am Catholic, I don't view adoption as a way to make more Catholics. Although my children have been raised in the Catholic faith because it's the only one I know, they have my full support to seek and find their own paths. And as Buddhism is the faith they are likely to have known had they stayed in Korea, it holds a special place in my heart and our home.

I don't see adoption as an act of charity. I believe in the separation of church and adoption just as I believe in the separation of church and state and school. In my opinion, faith is, and should remain, a private matter.

To me, this is all very straightforward, and very easy. I'm therefore disturbed by how many view adoption through the lens of religion and charity. Like the devout agency director I know who at an agency event thanked adoptive parents for their love for the "poor, unfortunate children" - with the children there. Or the new adoptive mother of a little Korean boy I read recently who, with disdain, described the statues of Buddha she saw on her trip to Korea as "idols of worship." Or the religious and lay who view surrendering children as the road to redemption for unmarried mothers.

I also get why those who have been hurt by religious institutions would have no respect for them. Heck, there are many times I feel the same way about my own church. Plus, I think we change institutions for the better by watching them and speaking out when they go beyond their charters. I don't believe blindly, and I don't want others to do that either. My search, my road has taken me through questioning to rejection and back again to embracing the theology of my faith - but never will I embrace the actions of my church without question.

Sometimes, though, criticism crosses the line to ridicule, which falls into a different category for me - that of religious intolerance. Although what set me off this week may have only been intended to be a bit of humor, I received it differently. And it has made me think.

It's made me think about whether or not someone of my faith is really welcome in the adoption reform community. It also made me wonder if bringing religion into discussions of adoption reform furthers the cause or helps change the offending institutions. I don't know, but these are questions I'll be thinking about a little more in the future. Nothing about my point of view of adoption reform changes, though, so please don't go away thinking that I feel any differently about what has to change. I need to find a way to reconcile my reaction to the anger against my Church with my beliefs.

I could be hypersensitive at the moment, I do get that way from time to time, forgive me for that. I also may be viewing this through my "religion should be a respected, private matter" eyes. I want everyone to do as I do - respect others' religious views, refrain from proselytizing, and keep religion out of public policy.

OK, does any of this make sense? I'm not sure, but I feel better just for getting it out and onto paper. Thanks for letting me ramble!


Suz Bednarz said…
makes perfect sense to me. thanks for sharing.
Paragraphein said…
It makes perfect sense, Margie.

"Sometimes, though, criticism crosses the line to ridicule, which falls into a different category for me..."

Yeah. It's most definitely a different category.

And by the way... not sure if this is helpful or hurtful (I suspect helpful, as you have said that you try to separate your religious views from adoption)... but I never think of your religion when I read your adoption-related posts. So I think you ARE successful in separating the two.
If your religion--THEOLOGY, not the institutional religion--informs your adoption views at all, I can only conclude that it is that the kindness and caring you believe in--both of which values can be found in your theology-- help motivate your adoption reform efforts.

So as far as I am concerned, you are MORE than welcome in this reform movement. And not only welcome, but needed, loved, and appreciated.
Cookie said…
I agree too that you are more than welcome and needed in the adoption reform movement.
Cavatica said…
I agree completely. I am sad for the children whose adoptive parents feel they are saving them by making them Christian (or any religion for that matter). It negates the culture they came from and is so ethno and egocentric. But, I think it is human nature to an extent - to want our children to be like us in whatever way. I'm not religious, so it isn't an issue and tolerance of differences (religious or otherwise) is important to me. Nice post.
Margie said…
Everyone, thanks for the comments, they are all very helpful. And Nic, I'm so so glad to hear that you don't find my faith leaking into my posts about adoption. They really are two very separate issues in my head AND my heart. I guess I think if it can be this way for me, why not for others?

Happy holidays, everyone!!
Suz Bednarz said…
Completely agree with Nic. I have never seen faith stuff in your posts. I would know. I am uber sensitive to that.

However, after reading your post, I find myself wondering why any faith that promotes the adoption of children doesnt equally promote familiy preservation? I wont expect you to answer that as it will then make your blog a faith based posting (lol). It is something I am going to write about on my own blog. I have discussed this at length with a friend (who was formerly a fundamentalist xian and is now hard core atheist).

It would see to me to be a xian thing to do to help a mother and child and not separated them?
Margie said…
I agree with you, Suz. I can only look at it through the prism of my own church, and I keep coming back to the fact that somewhere along the line, three things intersected and created a perfect adoption storm:

- what I call "false morality"
- growing positive sentiments toward adoption
- existing attitudes that adoption is a charitable act and therefore good

Add infertility to the mix, and voila! you reach a tipping point where the adoption of infants, regardless of country of origin, overtakes what in any other situation is the prevailing attitude - that families need to be kept together.

I do want to continue to post on this, these things need to be said. And I'm looking for ways to say them in my own church. One of the challenges that exists in the Catholic church is that adoption is a function of Catholic Charities, and parish priests and even bishops therefore have little to do with adoption policy. Getting THEM to understand just how abusive adoption practices are is the challenge inside my church, I think.

I also think this is a really important topic. We NEED to be talking about it. Unfortunately, you and I and the people that read our blogs get it. The ones who need to hear it aren't reading. Gotta get to them somehow.
Suz Bednarz said…
Of course you know I agree with you. We have discussed this f2f. I wanted to add an interesting comment (pasted from my own blog) that is somewhat related. (Sorry to hijack this thread but I think its good sentiment and supports some of what we have been discussing).

See below.

"Do you ever wonder why the adoption industry and the church are such natural allies? I would not presume to reduce that complex relationship to a single dimension, but check it out. The church conditions people to rely on authority rather than reason. Credibility goes with position. People with agendas that rely on faith-based assumptions and lightly-questioned authorities need look no further to find rich soil in which to seed bad ideas.

Young single mothers have no position in life yet, no degrees, and no institutional recognition. Not the kind of person these people are used to listening to. But tack a Rev. or Doctorate in Divinity onto the name and you've got clout. Never mind that while the young mothers in question lack information, the would-be authorities are brimming with misinformation, myth and nonsense. "
wow, this hits home for me, thank you thirdmom. I really struggle with adoption and religion. ugh.
Celera said…
I'm so glad to see that you are going to continue writing. I enjoy reading your adoption-related posts, but I'm looking forward to reading some of the other stuff too. Adoption is a part of our lives, but it is not our whole story, or our whole self. Perhaps this incident is intended to help you change focus a bit.
Very insightful. As someone raised Catholic who is now a practicing Buddhist, I think about the Catholic Church quite a bit and have real ambivalence about leaving it. It's no the 'religion' or even specific theology that makes Catholicism (or Judaism or Buddhism) come alive, but the people who genuinely, really imbue the world with the love that God/Jesus/Buddha and all the great wise ones offered. Can't beat that.
I think I can respect your position on keeping adoption and religion separate even though for me they are very much linked. I am a Christian who feels that everything I do should relect my faith and my belief that God is love. I want a church that supports single mothers and works toward keeping families together - all sorts of families.

I have had some bad experiences with my churches and some good. I think we have to depend on God to work through us for good and we have to admit that sometimes we get in the way of that in all sorts of hurtful ways.

I don't think working for adoption reform has to be separated from our faith. For me single motherhood is part of that and adoption is part of that.

All this to say - I accept your point of view for your work and your blog, even though I don't feel the same way. I am learning a lot from you and I hope you will keep writing here.
Cheryl said…
I so agree with what you said. I saw the same blog and it shook me too. This is what I posted on my blog regarding the subject. Thanks.


The other day I was reading a blog written by a woman who was visiting a far away land. She was commenting that she went into a Buddhist Temple and just stayed for a second. She found it sad that people were on their knees praying to these golden Buddhas and felt they were idols of worship. I commented to a friend that it made me "sad" to see her write that. I also find it ironic that Christians do not see themselves as doing the same thing when crossing themselves in front of pictures of Jesus or praying to a cross but that is another topic altogether.

I told my friend that I was "sad" because the woman was so closed to anything but her beliefs that she could not allow herself to take it all in and look at the beauty of what was in front of her. I have been in numerous Buddhist temples, Hindu places of worship, Christian cathedrals and in all of them I have felt the spirit of Him/Her at work. I was able to see the beauty of what the religion and her people were trying to convey about the world and their place in it, their sacred relationship with their GOD,and how the people were using their beliefs to try and make their world more understandable to themselves and others. In fact, in every one of these buildings I was able to experience a real sense of tranquility and feel the "spirit." Frankly, I have never met a Buddhist who has said, "I went into a church the other day and saw people singing, praying or looking at a picture of Jesus and it made me sad." It amazes me how so many Christians can have such an holier-than-thou attitude.

What I think Christians tend to forget is that the Christian religion is full of idols or symbols as is each and every religion. It has to be that way because those symbols, are in fact, the language or the history of where it came from, it's philosophy, etc.

I guess what is "sad" to me is that people cannot find an appreciation in those things that are meaningful to others on their spiritual journey and that they cannot see the beauty in place, spirit or various rituals. I may not agree with other people's religious persuasion but I can certainly step outside of my own bias to see and appreciate the beauty, the history and the symbols in other individuals religion. It does make me "sad" that others cannot. Truly, it is not only the blind who cannot see.


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