January 4, 2013

Do Christians Talk Out Both Sides of Our Mouth When It Comes To Adoption?

My view on adoption has changed greatly over the years. This was mainly because I started thinking with an open mind and stopped repeating the narratives I had been exposed to for so long without further consideration.

I'm not talking about being so open minded my brains fell out, but simply thinking realistically. Some views just don't hold up when you follow them all the way through.

One of the arguments that just doesn't work for me anymore is when  Christians claim that children should be relinquished and adopted by a couple who can provide more for them financially. If you look at this in a completely pragmatic way, it just doesn't add up, pardon the pun.

I have personally heard a lot of people say that babies need to be adopted "so they can have a better life." They speak of this in terms of the baby growing up in a nicer neighborhood with a family that can provide them with things like their own room. For some, the options of private school or homeschooling as well as other extras that a single mother, father, grandparent or other natural relative may not be able to provide, are important considerations.

This flies in the face, of what we often hear when it comes to married couples who are unexpectedly pregnant, or intentionally became pregnant but are worried about resources.

I recently read two Facebook threads that illustrate the point I'm about to make. The first was from a friend who is a Christian wife, mother and grandmother and highly revered by all who know her. Lots of people ask this friend for parenting advice. She's raised three amazing children all of whom serve in ministry today. She posted advice on her Facebook page saying something to this effect: "Many people ask me the key to raising such great children and I tell them this: love God, love the kids, be consistent, and don't worry about them having all the best things materially. You can raise a child on the bare essentials, just what they need -- not all their wants -- and they can turn out great. In fact, I believe them not having abundance of material things is probably a big key to them flourishing. Mom and Dad, don't worry about providing all the bells and whistles...just love Jesus and love your kids!" 

Another friend who is unexpectedly pregnant has been worried about how she and her husband will provide for the child she is carrying. They don't have space in their home for the baby to have his or her own room, and they can't move to another house right now. Their other two children have their own rooms. They are worried about making ends meet once the new baby comes, on her husband's salary.  Distraught at the current situation, she wrote a Facebook status about it. What followed was a 50-plus-comment-thread from friends and family reassuring her that this new baby didn't need his or her own room to thrive, or really anything more than their basic needs met. People shared stories of "growing up in a home that was less than 1,000 square feet, packed in with multiple brothers and sisters, and turning out just fine!"  According to the plethora of friends and family who commented, all the baby needs is love and Jesus.

I'm not disagreeing.

My husband and I have raised three children, two of whom are now adults, all of whom are doing extremely well. 

For half of the kids' lives, we lived on the poverty level.

They remember not having their own rooms.

They remember before we moved to Florida, going to McDonalds as a family and getting one large Coke with five straws because we couldn't afford five drinks.

They remember when they qualified for a reduced lunch at school.

They remember when we couldn't afford all of their school supplies and my husband's mother purchased them.

Why is it when a married couple is unexpectedly pregnant and worried about provision people say, "don't worry, all children need is love!" But when a single girl gets pregnant they say, "Have you considered adoption? You can give the baby a better life..."

Either material things matter, or they don't.  In my experience within the Christian community, at least in theory we believe they don't. And we preach that they don't.

I was raised in a Christian home where we were taught that material things were not the focus of life. My adoptive grandmother who lived across the street from my childhood home and was a huge influence in my life had a wall hanging in her front room that said, "Only one life will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last." It has served as a constant reminder throughout my life of what is important. Indeed, as Christians we are repeatedly challenged, and we even sing it...

 "I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold, I'd rather have Him than have riches untold..."

"Lord, You are more previous than silver...Lord, You are more costly than Gold...Lord You are more beautiful than diamonds, and and nothing I desire compares with You."

So, do we suspend our belief that material things are of little consequence,when it comes to adoption?

From experience of raising three kids on very little resources at times, I'm inclined to believe that financial provision isn't the most important qualification to parent well.

In light of this, why is it that when a married couple is expecting, finances mean nothing...but when a single girl is pregnant they mean everything?

This is just one of the many things I wonder about.

Should finances ever be a determining factor as to whether a natural mother, father or family keep a baby?

If Christians view the issue of resources equally no matter who happens to be pregnant, what might happen?