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Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Last Few Days....

I am recovering from reading a very difficult book.  And when I say recovering, it shook me to my core. 
Why?  Because I am a Christian. I am an adoptive parent. We home educate our children.  We have adopted Internationally and all of our children are "Social Orphans".  
I am a bulls eye target for this book.


One reason I wanted to read it was to see things from a different perspective. Sometimes we can surround ourselves with like minded people and forget there is an entire world out there....

Why did Ms. Joyce specifically target "Christian Adoption"? 

Most likely because Christians Adopt!  It is a part of our identity.  God adopted us.  We are to care for widows and orphans.... you know all the verses, and they are true. 
The Gospel is a gospel of Adoption!  We call to GOD saying Abba! Father!  Translated Abba means Daddy.

There is nothing wrong with adoption! It is a good thing.

In the Muslim religion, adoption is not even permitted! Not the kind of adoption we are talking about.
You cannot adopt a child and give them an inheritance.  And Muslim countries certainly do not allow Christians to adopt!

In Athiest countries, adoption is not a big thing at all.  In fact, under the Old Soviet Empire, doing good deeds for your neighbor was outlawed!  People starved, children suffered terribly and nobody helped out of fear of going to prison.
That mindset is slowly beginning to change, but not in time for many children orphaned in those countries.

I distinctly remember taking Erika into a restaurant in Kyiv.  She was wheelchair bound, and obviously had some physical handicaps.  A young man came up to us and asked, "Where are you from?"  We told him, and he talked to Erika for a moment.  He went back to his group of young people and asked them, "Where are all the handicapped children in Kyiv?" This is the first child I have ever seen and I've been here 2 years!" 
They looked over and replied, with a shrug. "Out of sight, out of mind!"
He looked discouraged. He was an American teaching English second language and had no idea orphanages existed in Ukraine.

Many of my cyber friends have adopted children, just like we have from these countries, and our children are thriving.
I do not think the book was about International Adoption as we know it.  We follow the laws, and
have followed our hearts, and God's plan for our families.
We, like many of you, we prepared ourselves for what adoption would be like with children from other cultures, and have worked hard to help our children adjust.
Some of us have taken children who were already here, where adoptions failed and that is especially sad. :(
But the children have thrived.


The book was about the dark side of adoption.  The side that we don't like to see.  But we NEED to see it, so we can make sure that God is being Honored in all.  Why Christian Adoption?  Once again, because Mostly Christians Adopt!  And there ARE wolves in sheeps clothing posing as "Christian".
And the very well may not be.
That is why we have to do our homework.

One thing that Ms. Joyce tried to touch on several times in the book was the Christian's view of suffering.  She doesn't understand it. 
My own personal view is that each of our children, this moment are right where they belong!   I have no question in my mind about that!  And yes, each of my children have suffered greatly.  But that does not mean their suffering was without purpose or that God loves to cause us to suffer!
The famous question, "How can a loving God allow such suffering?"  comes up. 

And all I can say is that I do not have all the answers. But God does, and I trust Him. 
I also know that God uses people, to fulfill His purposes and He cares deeply for orphans, widows and you and me.
Nobody is left out of that equation.

There has been suffering endured in our lives that seemed to make no  sense in it's time, but makes perfect sense now.  God is all wise, and I do not pretend to understand all He does or allows.  Oh how I wish I could see more clearly.

I wish this book did not have to be written.  I wish that the church were more willing to police itself and work hard to make sure things are done right!  I'm sure there have been many lessons learned along the way in the messy business of helping others.  I know I have learned a lot personally from my own mistakes in this same area.
If we were policing ourselves, this book probably would not have been written. 
Truth is truth, even in the messenger is not the one we wanted to hear it from.

Was the book heavy handed? Absolutely. It is written with a lack of understanding of the Love of Christ and how it changes us. 
Those of us who adopt children and love them before we know them... are like aliens  to those who don't get it.
Did I love our girls before they came home?  I would have to say yes, yes, yes and yes.
And that love grew, as love is a VERB. It is a choice to love.  

Did this book cover adoption gone wrong?  Yes. 
Some of those instances I have blogged about right here on this blog, and I don't disagree with what Ms. Joyce had to say.  But it is hard....

I know of a ministry getting ready to begin in Haiti, and I hope that before they get started, they will read this book, especially the lessons that Saddleback Church mentioned they had learned.

On a final note: Folks who work in adoption need to be paid for the work they do. 

 Adoption builds families and puts them together, but it should never be an industry.
Ms. Joyce makes her views of this very clear by using terms like supply and demand. I found that very offensive.   No parents I know have ever "demanded" a child, nor have they requested one be "supplied to them".   I sure hope this is a gross exaggeration to make a point ; it made it hard to get through the book.

And now, I'll go about the business of loving the family God has brought to me.

I hope and pray that my last 6 posts have not been offensive to anybody.  Please forgive me if they have.  My intent is never to judge another family or judge where they have adopted from, or how they have adopted.  That is between each of us and the Lord.

My intent was to critique a book and it opened up a can of worms that cannot be ignored. To ignore it would be like ignoring the Christian Leader who is committing adultry and saying you don't want to say anything because it might hurt  the cause of Christ, when in Reality, the cause of Christ is being hurt.

Please prayerfully consider how this kind of information can help you and what action it may cause you to take.


Anonymous said...

Ethical adoption can indeed be a wonderful, wonderful thing - particularly when folks CHOOSE to adopt a kid with special needs BECAUSE (not on spite of) their special needs. Christians are by FAR the most likely to adopt these kids, the ones MOST in need of a loving family and that is AWESOME!

I also agree that folks who work in adoption deserve to be paid for their work. I thought Joyce raised the issue to demonstrate that paying in-country folks SO much money for their adoption-related work (eg $200/day in a country where a middle class salary is $1200/yr) that it creates a perverse incentive to find kids FOR families, rather than families for kids. So much $$ that it distorts the local economy**.

My take on why Joyce wrote this book on the Evangelical Christian approach to adoption is because of the fairly recent movement to create a "culture of adoption" and the "ends justifies the means approach" approach to it that too often leaves ethics by the wayside.

I also believe that some reform to how adoption/international adoption is currently practiced would make a whopping big POSITIVE difference:

- national standards for homestudies that are geared to ensuring each and every adopted child has the very best chance of success in their new family. The odds of any given adoption succeeding decreases significantly if multiple unrelated kids are adopted simultaneously and if the new kid isn't given enough time to settle into their new family -- prohibiting the adoption of multiple unrelated kids simultaneously and requiring adopters to wait a year between adoptions would fix this. (Legislation is, frankly, needed to save many well-intentioned adopters from *themselves*).

- more meaningful post-adoption support (and a requirement that adopters have funds in escrow to cover the associated costs *before* their adoption is finalized). A family that can pay for a few hours of respite a week and (not covered by even fabulous insurance) treatment for a newly adopted child is so so so much more likely to survive a rough transition. A kid who has been abandoned at least once ready *needs* and *deserves* this.

- (this will not be very popular) Some kinds of check up from the authorities on kids (adopted and not) who are homeschooled, maybe twice a year. It's absolutely "punishing"
zillions of wonderful, amazing, loving homeschooling* families like yours because of the teeny-tiny number of parents who homeschool as a means of avoiding mandated reporters.

* something like 11 kids, all of whom were adopted and several of whom died, were starved in Washington State in 2011 alone. It's an unfair and intrusive requirement to impose on good parents... but, well, starved kids may have been rescued sooner (or, better still, the adopters were intervened with *before* they harmed their kids).


** slightly off-topic but nonetheless illustrative example of unintended consequences: in a semi-remote part of Chad where I worked, there were basically no doctors and very few RNs. Years before I got there, an NGO decided to improve healthcare in the region by giving RNs the opportunity to obtain BScNs, which worked great. Shortly before I arrived, the same org decided to train the BScNs to the Masters level... at which point pretty much all of them quit their jobs to move to the capital and get paid 10 - 100x more working for an embassy or the fancy private hospital for ex-pats (and I don't blame them! Who wouldn't take advantage of an opportunity like that!). The end result was no doctors and no nurses in a desperately under served area.

Christie M said...

Kacey, thank you for your comments once again.

That whole ends justifies the means thing is bothersome.

One thing about our family, we are out in the open. We have a business on our property with customers who see all of us all the time. Our social worker has visited us regularly for the last 10 years because of all the post placement reports or homestudy updates needed. :)

I don't like blanket laws on how many children a person can adopt at once, because I know my one friend in particular has had very good success adopting multiple children at once.
For me however, I don't believe I personally could. The amount of time and investment to pour into a very traumatized child is immense.

We have had Alli now for 2 plus years and I couldn't imagine having already brought another child home.
She wouldn't have been ready.
She says she is ready now, but we don't child hunt.

Her sister coming into her life, is also coming into ours so she will be a new chapter in our family. We are so excited to be able to visit with her soon before she goes to college. :)

I really hate the idea of respite care unless it is absolutely necessary, as I think it would set a child back.
A long bath, a long walk, a time of reflection can be enough for me.... and yes we have had to deal with raw, real, trauma.
The best investment we have ever made was in getting advanced training from Heather Forbes and studying Karyn Purvis's work.
Also in keeping in touch with our social worker who is invaluable.

One time, I did call her after our 1 year mark with Alli and she gave me 3 little words. "Change of Scenery". It was all we needed to turn a situation around when I couldn't think. :)

I have no problem with updates etc. But I would have a huge problem if somebody were coming in looking for problems or demanding we do counseling when we felt it would be more traumatizing to the children.
Frankly, when I did my advanced training it was mostly LCSW's getting extra credit hours.
I went to lunch with them, and they assumed I was one of them. I listened as they talked loosely about not being able to wait to "try this out" on somebody, and sell books at a profit! No kidding.

And I was thinking.... wow. Somebody is going to fork over 200 bucks and hour and bear their soul to you so you can sell them a book and try something out on them that you barely even understand?

I was able to share our story, and then there was silence. dang.

I really think if somebody can handle more than one child, they should be allowed to... but that should be determined by the support network they have set up before hand.
We do have a great support network, and I am thankful for them.

Also, it is more relaxing to be an older parent. I'm just being honest.
Having done this already once, you don't sweat stuff as much as you did with the first go around, even though we are dealing with apples and oranges, boys and girls, bio/adopted....

It is all kids! :)
And we LOVE our lives.

MamaV said...

Thanks again for doing the review. I loved it, and it made me think!

Unknown said...

Hi, I'm a long-time reader of your blog, but this is my first comment. Another blogger recently reviewed this same book and it prompted me to buy it. I'm on chapter 3 at the moment, and I have to say, I'm glad I have read your reviews along with/prior to the book.
I'm an atheist myself, and probably would have failed to notice that the derogatory tone the author uses when writing about evangelical Christians is offensive to those who classify themselves as such, but don't agree with the behavior of the examples the author uses. I guess what I'm trying to say is that after reading your blog (and others you have linked on your sidebar) I wouldn't have thought to compare you to the people in the book at all.
I don't have any insight into solutions or anything to help the adoption situation as it is, but I do hope the majority of people who read this book can understand that although the examples the author uses are horrible and paint a sad picture, they aren't the entire story. Like you said, the message needs to be heard but it's important to remember that her examples don't encompass the entire Christian adoption community.
PS: I love reading about your family and how you've all overcome some pretty incredible obstacles. Although our religious beliefs are different, I find you and your family to be very inspiring!

Chris said...

I didn't read that book, but you come across her sentiments "out there'. I guess I keep remembering that the devil with try to twist and ruin every good move the church makes...and yes we need to be on our guard the we aren't making problems worse...but I look at my daughters and know that there probably should be reform in their birth country, but until the reform happens, where would they be?

Christie M said...

Andrea, thank you so much for your sweet words. And thank you for reading my blog! :)
Nice to meet you!

Christie M said...

I think that is sort of where the book trails off, when talking about Rwanda.... Yes, changes need to be made but what do you do in the mean time.
Personally, I feel that until changes are made for in country adoption, like what is happening now in Ukraine, IA should be a genuine and welcomed option.
Legal of course! :)

Christie M said...

And I think Unicef and those who declare country first, may not be honestly thinking about children first....or they haven't thought out the ramifications of their recommendations, some of which could be death sentences to some children.

At the same time, those who do things illegally, need to also think of the ramifications of their decisions and understand that their actions to put more adoptions through might stop adoptions altogether and cause death sentences for some children.

Anonymous said...

Christie - I have thought through the ramifications and implications of UNICEF and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (only us - because TX barbarically subjects minors to the death penalty - and Somalia haven't signed on) and agree with their goals... and must respectfully disagree with you on this particular issue.

I truly believe the very best thing for a kid is to stay with their biofamily, next best is extended family, next best is adoptive family in their native land, and, a distant fourth, once all other options have been exhausted is an adoptive family in another country.

"... which could be death sentences to some children".

For any given kid, anywhere on the planet adoption - the permanent legal severing of first family ties - is NEVER an emergency or a death sentence. Getting that particular kid medical treatment may well be.

"Yes, changes need to be made but what do you do in the mean time (about a seriously broken government/child welfare system in Country X?").

The question of what to do in the meantime is somewhat of a red herring.

I think we can agree that the US foster care system is seriously broken and in desperate need of reform. The sad statistics are that "2 of 3 (aged-out American) foster children will die, go to jail or go homeless within a year of turning 18". Sadly, these outcomes aren't all that much less horrible than those of aged-out Russian and Ukrainian orphans. *sigh*


Is US foster care reform happening fast enough? No, and yet we do not let foreigners adopt our US foster kids in the meantime. So I do not have it in me to condemn another country - particularly a poor and unstable one - for refusing to let foreigners adopt their kids while they reform *their* child welfare system.

Many developing countries have a reasonable (if unfortunate) explanation for the dismal state of their child welfare system -- poor, lots of infectious disease, war torn, recovering from decades of communism, etc. I'd argue they aren't *capable* of fixing their issues overnight.

Here in the US? We have no such excuse - wealthy country, very stable. Yet our life expectancy (78.7 yrs) is lower than much-less-wealthy Cuba's (79.3), according to the latest Human Development Index*. The infant mortality rate in Mississippi (9.4 per 1000) is roughly on par with Sri Lanka (9.5) and Botswana (10.5)**... and something like 20% of the population of the latter has HIV (!).

(Based on the HDI statistics, there's a fairly compelling argument to be made that sending countries should preferentially allow Swedes, Norwegians and Canadians to adopt their kids in lieu of Americans -- all of 'em have longer life expectancies; significantly less poverty; much lower infant mortality rates, which are a kind of proxy for overall health and well-being).

* http://hdrstats.undp.org
** http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/13/health/infant-mortality-mississippi?c=&page=0

Christie M said...

Kacey, when I say "death sentence", I am speaking of children who are in special needs orphanages laying in cribs for life. I know of children who have died waiting..... and I know of a few who have had to go straight to hospitals once they were removed from orphanages because they were being systematically starved to death.

Those are the children I am thinking about when I say death sentences.
I totally agree with your assessment, on family first, then relatives, then adoption in country and then IA.
But in countries where adoption doesn't happen, I would not want an entire generation of children to sit and wait and rot until things change in their country.
I think a family is best!!! And if a family cannot be found in country, it is better for them to leave their country than to remain in a country where the only culture they really understand is an orphan culture.
And yes! The USA's foster system is dismal!
I don't know if you have read the book "3 Little Words"by Ashley Courtier, but it is a really worthy read.
She spent time in the Foster System. I believe the foster system nearly destroyed our Anna!
5 foster homes in 5 years!

The statistics for kids aging out here in the U.S. is pretty dismal.

I would say kids who grow up in foster care also have a similar "sub-culture". They are on the outside looking into a culture they really don't understand. :(

But at least here, SN kids have a life. In countries like Russia and Ukraine, there is none possible. There is no way for them to get around. They have no papers to prove they have a right for anything. :(
So, IA is a good option.

Christie M said...

Are you sure we don't allow foreigners to adopt from our system?
I thought we did!

I read one of the reports on starvation of children. I remember the Hanna Williams case well.:(
I do not get it! What is up with that?
Starving children or withholding food is just so odd.....

Anonymous said...

Christie - Starving only the adopted kid? Sadly, not so unusual. WA launched an inquire in the wake of Hana Williams' death and found 17-19 cases in 2 yrs in WA alone. Similar incidents in NJ & PA too:



It's ESPECIALLY disturbing that all these families had PLENTY of food and well-fed kids -- but chose NOT to feed 1 or 2 adopted kids.

The NJ & PA families were active in their communities/churches. Yet nobody asked why 6 yr old lost 20% of his weight in a few months? Or about a 12 yr old who weighs 48 lbs?!?

(There are lots of non-abuse reasons why a newly adopted kid may not be gaining weight, but those parents tend to be worried and doing something about it:

Laying rooms in developing countries: Children die from lack of medical care, not foreign adoptive parents. It is appalling but attitudes and options for kids with special needs were (shamefully) not that different in the US 60+ yrs ago:
http://m.psychologytoday.com/blog/fighting-fear/201207/the-cyclops-child. The guy who wrote this ghastly article is STILL practicing medicine!

(There are sadly still US foster kids who languish in laying room-esque conditions as "boarder babies" in hospitals and nursing homes:http://www.allarepreciousinhissight.com/2012/04/nursing-home-adoptions.html)

To me, there's a difference between a developing country doing the best they can with limited resources (especially when it's basically what the US did 50 yrs ago) and the US, which has the capacity to do better but chooses not to.

In setting out to adopt internationally, at a minimum you should do no harm. Ethics are so very important in ensuring that.

This has been such an interesting conversation Christie - I've learned a lot and am so glad you reviewed this book!

Christie M said...

I am going to read the links you sent Kacey.
I agree that expecting developing countries to have high standards is unfair. Some of the orphanages try. Some of the workers really care. And then there are those that don't.... and it is downright evil reigning.

As far as the U.S. Yes, we have come a long way in the light of our Special Citizens. But we really should not pat ourselves on the back.... we have those nice sidewalks and extra wide parking places because of a law that forces it. Many would not want to voluntarily do it.

And then there was MY OWN experience in the hospital with our 2nd son after he had a massive hemmorrage. He started getting really really skinny... and I asked them... aren't you feeding him? And their reply was, "Oh, you want us to feed him?" And then they did.
I felt like they were stealthfully starving him so he would die.
Yep, here in the good ole' U.S. and I witnessed it with my own eyes on other babies.

Anonymous said...

How horrible!!

Also wanted to pass along one more link - the Justice Dept is suing the state of Florida for *unnecessarily* institutionalizing 200+ kids with disabilities:

"Federal investigators visited six nursing homes around the state and identified about 200 children they said didn't need to be there and could benefit from care at home or elsewhere in the community. The investigators found that once in the facilities, many children stay for years, some growing up in the nursing homes.

The investigation found cold, hospital-like facilities where children share common areas with elderly patients and rarely leave or go outside. Investigators noted that the children are not exposed to social, educational or recreational activities critical to development. They also said educational opportunities are limited to as little as 45 minutes a day and that many of the children's families live hundreds of miles away, according to the lawsuit."

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