Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Adoption is Good.

Steve Scott reckons that the church could do worse than facilitating adoptions for orphans (http://fromthepew.blogspot.com/2008/05/adoption.html). Here's what I see as the main obstacles to adoption:

1. It costs an arm and a leg to do a private adoption, and adoption from a government agency is not cheap, either.

2. Nobody wants to take on children older than two years of age. That's what we considered "beyond marketability" in the child welfare system. There's good reason for this. These kids are screwed up, if not by their parents then by the foster care system, and that's a lot to take on. You can't trust the agencies to be straight with you about the potential problems, and a lot of these kids will need a big subsidy to cover all the psych treatment they will want.

3. Nobody wants to adopt a child from a different race (unless it's a cute Chinese girl). Also, there are barriers to adopting across races as the know it all social workers who control public agency adoptions have a doctrine that it is harmful for black children to be raised by white parents and vice versa. WTF?!?

4. Social workers treat would be adoptive parents as child molestors and put them through excessive vetting, so much so that it discourages adoptions from public agencies.

5. There is a lot of risk and uncertainty with adoptions, and nobody wants to endure the emotional hardship of an adoption gone bad when a birth mother changes her mind or a birth father appears out of nowhere. The laws should be made to encourage adoption, not to protect the rights of marginally interested biological parents.

6. Many folks feel strongly that they could not love a child that did not contain their genetic legacy. Hence, the even more expensive fertlity industry thrives while children languish in foster care.

7. The usual scenario is to pretend that the adoptive child is a biological child, and this plays out in all kinds of melodramatic ways such as the terrible discovery, the search for the birth parents, etc. This makes adoption fraught with emotional peril. It's time for a new model of adoption which treats adoption as a perfectly legitimate way to form a family and one which stands on its own right.

I see a need for some social changes to facilitate adoption, to make it less strange, less of a last resort, more of a blessing (which it really is!). Let preachers extoll the virtues of adoption, and let churches provide the support system for adoptive families to deal with the real issues. Let churches provide subsidies for adoptive familes with special needs children, older children from foster care, and other problematic adoptions. Let churches provide legal assistance and arrange for pro bono legal assistance for adoptions from public agencies by lawyers of faith. Let churches provide day care so as to enable working families to take on adoptive children.

Children who are wards of the state are especially needy and vulnerable. They want rescuing in the worst way, and this would be a worthwhile ministry of any church. Churches could do worse than keeping tabs on foster kids in their parishes.

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