So goes a story the other day in The Washington Post about a couple who gave birth to a set of triplets from adopted embryos. What made the story stand out is that the couple are white missionaries and the triplets are African American. Aaron and Rachel Halbert already had adopted an African-American boy and a biracial girl in Mississippi, and wanted to add to their family. They did it this newfangled way "with the deeply held conviction that if the Lord wanted us to have a fully Caucasian child my wife would conceive naturally."
He apparently did not want them to conceive naturally, even though they have been living and working as missionaries in Honduras for the Presbyterian Church in America purportedly doing His work.
What caught our attention is not the color aspect, but that they decided they wanted to adopt while they were still dating. It is this religious fervor to adopt that creates a bull market for babies, and increases all around pressure to find, i.e. create, more babies to adopt.
Adoption creates the perfect potpourri for evangelicals: Taking care of poverty and justice, blended with their anti-abortion stance and a claim that indeed there are enough homes in the world for the children they encourage women to have in order to avoid abortion. It's the final end to the "Adoption Not Abortion" trope that presents a happy, and altruistic, picture to the world.
Nothing is said about what happens to the women who this religious fervor encourages to have babies and give them to others, and there's the problem. Read in Kathryn Joyce's The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption and you find the religious upset that they cannot find babies to adopt! Instead of rejoicing that mothers are keeping their babies, they are sad there are not enough to go around for anyone who wants to adopted.
Aaron Halbert, who wrote the opinion piece under "Acts of Faith," explains it like this:
"We see protection of children not as charity, nor as part of a political agenda, but as something near to the heart of God. Because every human life bears his image, all life –no matter how young or old, no matter the stages of development — has inherent dignity and value. The Scriptures testify that God has always pleaded for the protection of his most helpless and needy image-bearers. Another prevalent theme of the Bible is that God adopts believers into his own family. When we adopt, we are echoing his own compassionate work, giving the world a glimpse of the truth and beauty of the gospel."And of course proselytizing religion. Their rewards are not only earthly--having the children--but surely they will be elevated in the afterlife for their good deeds here on earth. And since God adopts "believers," they have created five more for him to adopt.
The couple adopted two embryos from a National Embryo Donation Center, a Christian embryo bank, where one assumes no embryos are destroyed, and thus the logic goes, all those embryos created by science need to be turned into people. One of the embryos split, thus the triplets. All are girls. On Facebook, and in the photo on the WP website, they appear to be a happy, healthy family.
It's the mothers we think about here at First Mother Forum. Where are the biological/natural mothers of these five children? The embryos don't have "birth" parents, but they do have biological parents.
If you donate an embryo, don't you wonder how the children will turn out, what they look like, what they have inherited from you? Do the children wonder about siblings? The biological parents? A quite perusal of the more than 1,600 comments did not discuss our issue about the adoption per se, but mostly the race aspect.
I give them credit for not adopting Caucasian children--or embryos--as Aaron rightly notes there are plenty of people waiting to do that. But as we know, being black. or biracial, in a white family is not a state to be condition to be so easily dismissed. Though Aaron doesn't quite say it outright in the piece, he hints they chose to adopt black embryos so that the two adopted children would feel more comfortable with their new siblings. Though the children unwittingly become part of a large social experiment, it may be that racial prejudice will not end until we are all brown. What bothers me most is the creating of human life in an already crowded world.--lorraine
The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption
"This is an incredibly eye-opening book about all that's wrong with international adoption. The main argument of the book is that western demand for children, and/or for a heroic Christian adoption experience, has a distorting effect on the number of "orphans" available for adoption in developing countries. If you build it, they will come--that is, orphanages attract desperately poor parents to drop off their kids. Highly paid adoption workers get parents to relinquish kids, without their fully understanding that adoption is permanent. What is needed is often not adoption but assistance to whole families. In other places, the problem is not so much poverty but the stigma attached to single motherhood. That's it in a tiny nutshell--there is a massive amount of information in this book, and it's not easily summarized."--Amazon reviewer
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