Important distinction redux

I vented my frustrations with the "Christian adoption movement" here. I clarified that my beef is with the movement, not the faith, here. A few comments I've received offline are struggling with what is perceived to be my backing away from deserved criticism - a softening of the blow, so to speak.

This is not the case.

I've noticed recently on some adoption reform lists and groups to which I belong that criticism of this phenomenon is stretching beyond the movement itself to criticism of Christians in general, particularly conservative Evangelical Christians and Catholics. This makes me uncomfortable for several reasons.

First, it's personal, and I will not apologize for this. By now you've figured out that I'm Catholic. In the adoption world and in general, my faith is pretty well beat to a pulp every day, for things I, too, condemn, like the way Catholic leadership is addressing the priest abuse scandal or the nonsensical crackdowns on freedom of thought - think the Pope's recent smackdown of U.S. nuns.

In adoption, the criticism starts by pointing out the corruption or failure of Christian religious institutions relative to adoption: Catholic "homes" for unmarried pregnant women that served primarily to relieve them of their children; Christian orphanages cum adoption mills; Evangelical promotion of adoption to "save souls." I'm right on board with these.

I'm not on board with what typically follows, which is a broadening of the criticism to say Christianity and Christians in general are bad. Beyond the pure ugliness of religious discrimination, I personally don't believe these attitudes do much to get the mainstream to understand how dangerous it can be to treat adoption as charity.

Second, it smacks of the same small-minded bigotry we saw after the attacks of September 11, when Muslims in general were ostracized and worse for simply being Muslim. That's just plain wrong.

There are individuals out there, not generally part of the online adoption reform community, who understand the dangers of the "call to adopt" and are speaking out. I found a couple today:
I don't agree with every point in these or any other posts on these blogs, nor am I necessarily comfortable with their particular religious views. But these people clearly are cognizant of adoption injustice and are willing to speak out about it. We should welcome their voices into adoption reform circles, not slam the door in their faces.

Maybe if that happens, more will gather the courage to start speaking their mind, which will interject a more realistic message about adoption from within these faith communities.

If you know of other Christian bloggers who are speaking out about adoption injustice in general or the Christian adoption movement in particular from the point of view of their faith, let me know who they are in a comment or an email. Thanks!


Kris said…
Agree with all points of this post. The Christian Adoption Movement does not involve all Christians just as Sept 11 did not involve all Muslims.
Margie said…
Thanks, Kris!
2worlds1family said…
I'm a Christian and have blogged about my dislike for the movement. The most recent one was titled "Is It Really a Voice of Love?" and that was in January. I've also done one about how I dislike the phrase "grow where you're planted," and did a post on how the Bible even disputes that. They're all on
Anonymous said…
Margie- you are a voice of reason in the volatile, muddled world of adoption. There really are few "villians" involved yet villianous things continue to happen. Keep on bringing things up for discussion. Your blog gives me hope.
LilySea said…
I don't know if he has a blog or not, but Smolin is an evangelical Christian biblical scholar who has written this quite brilliant, Bible-based and theologically complex and utterly Christian refutation of the evangelical pro-adoption and so-called "orphan care" movement.

I keep thinking I'm going to blog about it but haven't got around to it.

Here it is:
LilySea said…
Oh, I have to toss 2 cents in here. There is just no comparison whatsoever between any level of "anti-Christian" attitude I've encountered and the anti-Muslim attitudes post 9-11. I have a friend serving a 30+ year prison sentence as nothing much more than a scapegoat for American Muslims. Secret arrests... that's not comparable to anything in this country since the Japanese-American internments of WWII.
Margie said…
Hi, good to hear from you, hope all is well in your world!

No question that anti-Muslim backlash after 9/11 and anti-Japanese backlash after Pearl Harbor were/are different in their intensity and the expression of hatred.

I'm not suggesting that Christians are being treated similarly. I'm trying to say that to criticize Christians generally because some Christians promote this movement is not unlike the way some people criticize Islam because some Muslims are terrorists.

I don't want to be guilty of this, and therefore wantwd to be clear that my frustration with this movement doesn't stretch to Christians or Christianity generally.
Daniel Ibn Zayd said…
This distinction is indeed important. At the same time, I think it is crucial to show the religious justification for adoption which also maps onto similar justifications for colonialism, slavery, as well as economic and political predation. In this way we end up not separating adoption out as some kind of thing unto itself but see it in the bigger picture of capitalism, globalization, etc [which are also justified in terms of faith].

Having said this, I would broaden your scope of "whom to seek out" regarding all faiths and really examine those who challenge not just the status quo but that of their faiths as well. The liberation theology of South America comes to mind, as well as the Islamic version as posited by Hamid Dabashi and Ali Shari'ati.

Picking up on Smolin's critique, I would point out this article I wrote recently on similar attempts within the Muslim world to justify adoption via the holy Writ:

I actually see in this more of a religious justification of class distinction and position; the use of religion to anchor one's place of power within society.
Tina said…
Margie - I've considering a post on this but I find it hard to explain how God impacted the forming of our family with out a long and in depth discussion of my faith overall. And so while I might noodle on it in private I have not seriously tried to write it because I don't know that anyone is all that interested in my personal faith and beliefs.

As a Christian that has been a member of both Catholic and Evengelical congregations I have seen both healthy and unhealthy views toward adoption within those communities. Obviously I feel that God has played a part in all of my live - including the adoption of our much loved Little Man. But I don't think God preordained that adoption or "Called" us to it.

I get very uncomfortable with people saing God has "called" them to adopt. Just as I am uncomfortable with anyone who says the are adopting because "they want to do what is best for a child".

In my opinion people parent (through birth or fostering or adoption) for only one reason - because THEY WANT TO.
Margie said…
Daniel, hi, good to hear from you. Thanks for your comment, which as always pushes more thought. This in particular has been in my mind, too:

"At the same time, I think it is crucial to show the religious justification for adoption which also maps onto similar justifications for colonialism, slavery, as well as economic and political predation."

This is really important for adoptive parents to wrap their heads around, first and foremost to make sure that it isn't a part of their attitudes toward their children, and also to understand why their decision to adopt isn't applauded the world over.

Thanks for the link to your post, I'll read!
Margie said…
Daniel, in case you're following comments: I read your article, and it's excellent. Clearly people of all faiths manipulate sacred writings for their own purposes. The fact that they are motivated to help others doesn't justify it.

Thanks again for commenting and passing on the link.

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