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'Serial Adopters': How Evangelicals Are Exploiting Orphan Market

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A recent New York Times article "The Evangelical Orphan Boom" sheds light on how adoption has become a key component of the conservative Christian agenda, whether driven by good intentions and naïveté or zeal to promote pro-life ideology and spread the Christian faith.

Transnational adoption advocates are preaching that 150 million children need homes. But "that figure, derived from a Unicef report," explains Kathryn Joyce in the Times, "includes not only parentless children, but also those who have lost only one parent, and orphans who live with relatives."

Joyce is the author of The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption, a chilling exposé that unmasks how the religious right has successfully pushed a new "orphan theology," which urges believers to heed to this neo-colonial Christian mission and adopt—casting aside any acknowledgement of the families these "orphans" may actually have.

With adoption fees reaching roughly $30,000 per kid (plus travel costs), "child finders" are on the rise, recruiting children of a specific age and gender for prospective adoptive parents. Many ministries raise money and award grants to help Christians cover the fees associated with transnational adoption.

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Adoption today, Joyce writes, involves deception of the children's families and even adoptive couples. The child's family is often mislead that their kid is being placed in temporary guardianship, or sent abroad to obtain a superior American education, when actually, all family ties have been irrevocably severed. Adoptees generally believe they are rescuing a kid from poverty and abandonment, rather than ripping them from a loving home.

Christian agencies are fueling the market. Take the annual Orphan Sunday put on by Christian Alliance for Orphans, for example. The event, which this year takes place November 3, attracts hundreds of thousands of potential adoptees, sporting wristbands or T-shirts reading "orphan addict" or "serial adopter."

While perhaps fueled by good will, this en masse adoption is doing little to address these countries' underlying problems of poverty and inequality that hinder the progress of children and women's rights. Fortunately, some Christian groups are facing the problem head-on by "focusing on aid that keeps families intact or improves local foster care and adoption," Joyce writes. "Some churches have backed programs overseas that provide emergency foster parents, or day care programs for widowed mothers."

Read the full article here.