Writing in The Nation , Melanie Mock summarizes the findings of Kathryn Joyce’s The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption . Mock writes: “Many secular adoption agencies have been implicated in corruption in the last decade and more. Joyce focuses on those evangelical adoption ministries that have used coercion, aggressive marketing, outright lies and other forms of malfeasance to promote what they believe to be a biblical agenda of caring for widows and orphans. Many adopted children, Joyce reports, have one living parent, or other family who want to care for them; other birth families may have put them in orphanages not because they are orphans but because their families couldn’t afford to keep them at home. Her book’s essential argument is troubling, as well it should be: because the evangelical mythology of adoption posits that the happiest possible outcome for parentless children, both physically and metaphysically, is placing them in loving Christian homes, the seedier sides of adoption remain neatly hidden. In other words, because the motives for adoption are apparently good, some evangelicals demand that we overlook the ways marginalized women in developing countries are deprived of their children, for Christ’s sake.”

She continues: “some evangelicals, swept up in the adoption ministry movement, are less willing to hear: that living in a comfortable Christian home, with all the accoutrements of Western wealth and privilege, may not be the best outcome for vulnerable children . . . . Christians committed to justice and equity need to remember we are not entitled to other people’s children, no matter how poor or powerless those people might be; and many times the best possible place for a child to grow up is with his birth family, in his birth culture, even if that family—and culture—is poorer and less developed than ours.”

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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