This is a Dangerous Approach to Orphan Care

Let me begin with a disclaimer: I understand firsthand the pain and confusion of infertility. My wife and I have been married for over 25 years and never had biological children. We also have adopted a child through foster care.

Friends and family over the years offered different ways of support and encouragement. Early in our marriage twice friends approached us about adopting a baby. We turned them down both times.

As far as I know both cases were legitimate adoption opportunities. However, many times, whether domestically or especially internationally, the “adoption process” is not so legitimate.

The innocent thought process of a couple struggling with infertility can go like this:

We want children. We are not able to have children. We want to have children and a family of our own. We need to find a child to adopt.

On the surface there is nothing wrong with that. No shame in it. At all.

But this approach to orphan care is dangerous.

A “family looking for a child to adopt” approach to orphan care creates an environment ripe for corruption.

  • Families looking for children to adopt creates an economic market for adoption services, orphanages and “child seekers”. In most cases, tens of thousands of dollars exchange hands when a child is adopted. This becomes a matter of supply and demand. Families wanting, some desperately, to build their families are willing to pay top dollar to adopt a child. This incentives the process.
  • Anytime money is involved even noble efforts run the risk of becoming corrupt. Sadly this sometimes happens in the adoption services and orphanage industry. Well meaning, at least initially, organizations fall to the temptation of providing a child to a family at all costs. That focus easily clouds judgement and motive. Most often this happens unintentionally, but sometimes it is very intentional.
  • Corruption within the adoption movement often turns into human trafficking. Families of children, especially in poor countries, are misled about the reason their child will go to live with a family in the U.S. Others simply steal children and sell them to international orphanages. Where does the money come from? Take a guess.

I understand that some of my orphan care advocates might take issue with my thoughts on this. I hope they will dialogue with me on the matter.

The focus needs to be reversed. Instead of focusing on a family that needs a child, we need to focus on a child that needs a family.

There are many children, both domestically and internationally, that need a forever family. They truly are orphans, stuck in foster care systems or orphanages or living on the streets.

I appreciate what Craig Juntenen is doing with Both Ends Burning movement He is an advocate for international orphans. He believes every child deserves to be in a loving family.

I wholeheartedly agree!

I also strongly believe that a biological family member is the best person to raise a child as long as the child is safe. Only if the child has no familial option should adoption become a part of the solution.

So, the result is a child looking for a family. NOT a family looking for a child.

I realize that in some ways I am taking a simple approach to the challenges within the adoption industry. However, that does not make it wrong.

Are there children both domestically and internationally that are truly orphaned? Yes!

Is it wrong for a family to want to build their family through adoption? No!

The disconnect is that adoption or even any kind of orphan care isn’t on the radar screen of most couples that never struggled with infertility.

So what do I recommend?

  • Adopt the heart of Father God and care for orphans. Until our society genuinely cares for the orphan, our apathy will allow corruption and injustice to continue.
  • Reverse the focus from the adoptive family to the orphaned child. As long as the focus is on the family in need of a child instead of the child in need of a family, corruption, abuse, even trafficking will exist.
  • Join movements such as Both Ends Burning. Let your voice be heard calling for adoption agencies, orphanages and governments to instill protective processes that end human trafficking.

What are your thoughts about how we approach orphan care, especially adoption?

I am a longtime Austinite. Married my beautiful wife over 25 years ago. Adopted our son September 2012. Currently a writer and loving it. Previous jobs and careers include project management, missionary, and pastor. I enjoy sports (both watching and playing), traveling, reading, digging in dirt and hanging with my friends and family.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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