07 November 2007

National Adoption Month

Now, I'm no great fan of the proliferation of National Whatever Month/Week/Day. I didn't even know how many such national "holidays" there were, til our eldest son hit story hour age and suddenly we're learning about National Dental Hygiene Month, National Fire Prevention Week, National Children's Book Week, National Underwater Basketweaving Day. OK, so there never was a story hour on that last one, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's on an official calendar somewhere.

But the fact that November is Adoption Awareness Month brings again to the fore of my mind and heart a topic that's never too far in the background. A strange topic, perhaps, for a blog dedicated to matters relating to personal perpetual parturition, but here it is anyway.

What about adoption?

I'm not talking about the healthy white babies here--there are waiting lists for those, and as God has graciously been pleased to bless us with our own offspring of this variety, I feel no need to stand in those lines.

But what about the babies whose skin or features are different? the kids who have been tossed around U.S. foster care or overseas orphanages for a few years? the ones with health problems? the sibling groups?

Adoption is a beautiful Biblical image of and witness to God's covenantal love for us. Then too, we have the commands to care for the poor, the orphans, the fatherless...

Do we just continue as we are, remaining prayerfully open to God's gift of children whether they be biological or adopted, and assume that He will make clear His intentions for our family?

Just seems like it's hard to be open to adopting when one is in the midst of a young-and-coming family. (Can't you just see the disbelief on the faces of the people at the adoption agencies if my pregnant self marched in, looking not to place a child for adoption but to adopt one?)

As this post is becoming rather long, I'll end it, and hope someone else can step in and add some sense here.


Pr. H. R. said...

Having a number of friends and family members who have tried to navigate the foreign adoption market, I can tell you that there is a line for that as well: and hoops, and hurdles, and tests, and thinly disguised bribes (Don't forget your $9,000 in cash on the plane ride over. . ).

The response from many of them would be, "Hey, fertile people, go have your own kids and stop plugging up the works."

And that's the thing: adoption is extra-ordinary. So I think one must have extra-ordinary inducements to seek it out. I can't see a family or ordinary means and fertility seeking out adoption as a normal and healthy practice. Kant's universal imperative is sometimes a pretty useful tool: "What if everyone in my situation did what I am proposing to do? Would that make society better or worse?"

Plus there is the law of unintended consequences. Russia, the Eastern Bloc, and China have been the main areas for these "surplus babies." But these babies aren't surplus. Russia and Eastern Europe are in population collapse and China has two generations whose gender balance is so far out of whack that it spells trouble for them and the whole region (men who are forced not to marry tend to end up as gangsters or soldiers). Perhaps we would be better off encouraging those societies (and especially the Church - institutional and individuals. Latin American figures in here as well.) to take care of their own. Constantly tempting them with Western adoption dollars presents its own moral dilemma.

Not that I'm saying adoptions from these countries are wrong. We have two kids in the parish that are Russian by birth and were adopted four years ago by an infertile couple in our midst. They are a wonderful family and a blessing to each other and us. But what is right in an extra-ordinary circumstances is not necessarily right for all.

But if a fertile couple is moved by the plight of these kids and of infertile couples, here's what I would suggest. Make an interest free loan (The Council of Nicea forbids your husband to lend his money out at interest anyway :)) to a couple trying to navigate these choppy waters.


Rebekah said...

Dear me--I have to say I don't see adoption turning up on my radar screen unless it actively seeks me out (and even here, I'm talking intra-familially).

There are definitely lots of babies of all ages out there who need families, but it's like famine--there's food for everyone to have enough, but the distribution system is a hopeless mess. God in his mercy has allowed us to produce our own (and how!), so I see my role in the laudable adoption process as a supporter and facilitator insofar as I have opportunity to be involved.

But I would really, really like to see you and your baby train walking up to the counter and asking what's available today! :D

The Gauntlets said...

I admit to having considered adoption in the past, due to this and that circumstance. At this point in time, we would take children "bequeathed" to us as our own, but do not see it prudent to go looking.

I also admit that I sometimes think wistfully of days of yore when orphaned girls were coupled to large families as "housegirls," and thereby given a good upbringing (nice clothes, good food, solid catechetical instruction, marriage prospects) in exchange for a bit of help keeping the kitchen clean.

But the current state of things doesn't leave much room for a "poor family" to adopt charitably, and the need for such adoptions doesn't exist in the same way.

So now I think about possibly enlisting as a foster parent once all my own goslings have grown, 300 years from now. I mean, what else am I going to do with all that free time? Go back to school? ;)

Pr. H. R. said...

I buried a lady in our congregation last year who had a sister who was adopted. This gal I buried was pushing 90. And when she was around 10, the lady up the road died (dad had either left of was dead himself, I didn't get that part of the story.) At any rate, the good Lutherans of Worden just divvied up the kids and there you were. No DCFS, no big government hullabaloo, no problem.


The Gauntlets said...

Well, there you go. I'm glad such things actually happened (when such things were "allowed"). I did fear that such tales were mere projections cast by crazy Romantic idealists. Set in Canada. Featuring red-heads.

Reb. Mary said...

HRC, were the adopters you know generally seeking infants? I know there are lines for those internationally too.

But the kids I'm thinking of are the older ones, the sibling groups, the ones with social, health, or developmental "issues." From what I hear/read, there are no lines, fewer fees/red tape, and a great need for families for those kids. Which is the flip side of adoption: I obviously didn't bring up this topic because I feel like our family needs more kids, but because I wonder about those kids who need a family.

Let the infertile couples step in here? Well, some may, but many of those are seeking healthy infants--and only one or two, at that. I don't know if simply being fertile gets me off the hook. Just like not being in the highest tax bracket doesn't mean I can slack off on my almsgiving, relying on the the people with BMWs to do their share. (Likewise why I can't assume that those of greater means will step in here--those of greater means tend to expend their energies on said means rather than on thoughts about family size and discipleship. Not always, but often.)

Adoption as extra-ordinary? True; it's not the Eden-established family model. But this broken world calls for extraordinary measures on the part of Christ's followers.

Unintended consequences...I know there was some concern recently with Guatemala's adoption procedures--i.e,. "repeat customers" bringing infants on a regular basis; agents insisting they weren't paying women for those babies... But in general, from what I understand, it's not such an easy matter of Western adoption dollars offering temptation. If I'm not mistaken, countries like Russia, and China in particular, have strict limits on the number of babies they allow to be adopted internationally--a matter of national pride. They'd rather let some end up in orphanages. And if Western adoption dollars can tempt the Chinese goverment, for instance, to loosen the policies on forced abortions--hey, send my dollars that way. Not that simple, but still.

Well, perhaps our life circumstances will change in some way, making a prompting in the direction of adoption clearer. Or maybe like the Gauntlets we'll take in fosters if we're not totally arthritic by the time our biological descendents are all moved out.

Meanwhile, I always tell my husband that if any babies show up on the church's doorstep or if desperate women appear in his office, threatening harm to themselves or their babies, just bring them on home. None yet; we'll keep you posted.

Getting late, getting long. I think the two may be connected.

Reb. Mary said...

Also meanhwhile:

A way to care for orphans/fatherless from the comfort of your very own home:

Sponsor a child at a Christian orphanage. We do this through Foundation for His Ministry in Mexico. www.ffhm.org

I went there on a short-term mission in college and can personally testify to the stewardship of every penny there--it's amazing what they do.

The kids at their orphanages are not adoptable, partly b/c of Mexican laws and also because many of them actually do have a parent, usually a single mother, who is simply unable to care for them. So they're raised in Christian housefamilies there.

Guess it's something that even we fertile couples of ordinary means can manage to do!