The God-Abusers and Adoption

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain

To be honest: I don't know God. And I don't know what He, if He is out there, wants from America, from the rest of the World or from me. I think God is unknowable as He Himself explains through the Prophet Isaiah: My thoughts are not human thoughts and My ways are not human ways. In the Bible God is present by means of human invention and intervention, so also the Prophet's words are not Gods words, but his (lower case) own. And I used his words again to make my point. At best it is all literature.

God is unknowable and he doesn't talk. What He says is the figment of human thoughts, wishes, dreams, aspirations and feelings. Read the Bible and know man and his image of God, but not God. There is no real, provable connection between Him and us. Some people believe however differently. They think they hear God and since it is His word, they want those who don't hear God to listen anyway and - worse - to follow those words. We know the results: crusades, endless wars, terrorism. Where there is a human God who fights another human God, blood will flow.

The Word of God argument is uncontestable, since it is not based in facts but in a message that is only delivered to the one who uses the argument, and maybe to some of his or her friends. Who can fight the man or the woman who says: God told me to do this? God says so many things and they are all True, if you believe that He actually can talk: He told men to slaughter the Jews along the Rhine, to torch a drug dealer's pick up truck, to kill a son, not to look back, and He told a woman to divorce Lamar Odom.

I would argue that the Word of God argument is God-abuse: God can after all be used as an argument for killing Christians, Muslims or Jews and as an argument for not killing Christians, Muslims or Jews at the same time. God is will-less in the Ears of humans: God is made into a marionette. I said I don't know God, but I am pretty sure that if He is out there, He is definitively not a marionette in the hands of men.

God-abuse is common in adoption, particularly in international adoption. In a recent piece on adoption by an adoptive mother on this site the choice between foster care adoption in the US and international adoption was discussed: "There is an immense need for foster families here in America. An overwhelming shortage of families willing to adopt out of the foster care system. There is an immense need for adoptive families internationally. An overwhelming shortage of families willing to adopt out of the orphanages. Which need was greater? Neither. To which did I want to respond? Both." That the parallel formulation of the critically different issues ánd their juxtaposition are nonsensical doesn't matter at this point. More matters the answer of the mother: "In the end we followed God's leading to Ethiopia. To our four beautiful children who were there waiting for us." God told the writer and her husband to take this international path and He put the children ready for pick up in Ethiopia. That is to me God-abusive enough, even when you don't take into account the ongoing unethical mess of Ethiopian adoption.

But it gets worse: out of that personal God-argument grows in the piece the general argument that God tells each and every one of us what to do: "Here, He says to some. Right here is where I want you to help. There, He says to another. Right there is where I want you to help." This is a free pass for everybody to do whatever he or she wants to do: God told me so. That there are many serious reasons not to adopt internationally and to support family preservation and reunion in the first place, and that there many serious reasons to regard foster care adoption as ethically and socially the best option in adoption, that all can be swiped quickly under the rug when one has God's word on one's side. But there is real choice in adoption, based on facts and not based on what you imagine God told you.

To see how God-abuse has spread in Christian adoption circles you should visit the YouCaring site or the GoFundMe page, where literally 100s of adopters advertise their adoption 'journeys' to collect money for the costly domestic and international adoptions. God orders adoption, family and friends pay for it. In the first few pages of each site after a search 'International adoption' I found quickly the following quotes.

"God has graciously directed our hearts towards adopting from China."

"Four years ago God sovereignly opened our hearts to international adoption."

"This [West African] child that God is blessing us with is just as real to us as if it were growing inside our very womb. We are committed to raising up children for the Kingdom and are so excited to begin watching our family grow!"

"It is amazing how God allows us to go through certain trials to prepare us for 'His plan'. We truly believe God has called us to adopt and we cannot wait to bring our baby home from China and share our love with him/her."

"One day, instead of praying to get pregnant, I decided to pray for guidance. I asked for clarity, for His purpose. If His plan was for us to adopt, or to wait longer to get pregnant, would he make it clear?" [He did].

"Just over two years ago, the J. family responded to the calling they felt God had laid on their hearts years prior. God had asked them to trust Him on a journey to show His unfailing, persistent love to the world no matter what. And so, as a young married couple with two bouncing babies of their own, a single income, and a meager $2,000 to their name, they dove in to the tumultuous and uncertain process that is International Adoption, trusting that whatever happened, God would use their journey to His glory."

Like with most abuse, the abusers don't identify their abuse as such. They believe that international adoption is just a good, God-sanctioned cause. That many African countries see it as neo-colonialism where white people save their black children, that many social workers in sending countries point at the corruption inducing effects of hard currency Western adoption, that baby farms spring up, that child trafficking flourishes, that governments manipulate the adoption system for their own needs, does that escape the abusers because God told them to follow Him blindly?

The God-abusers seem also blind for the mothers and fathers, the communities and the countries of the kids they adopt. Instead of honoring the reality that most kids have at least one parent and in most cases an extended family, the orphan myth is milked, so that taking away the child from his or her world can be seen not as a crude, rigorous and painful intervention for both parent(s) and child, but as an act of charity. Some adopters state even that God uses the body of the birthmother to bear a child meant for the 'real' mother: it is all God's plan.

God-abusers have one powerful secular supporter: the Department of State. Instead of prioritizing alternative care - that is care to keep children in their family or return them to their families - over international adoption, State works mostly on facilitating international adoption. It would be interesting to know what the total budget for that work is, including manpower and facilities, to calculate what the costs were for 1 adoption of the 5,647 adoptions in 2015. That amount should be contrasted with the one that is needed for alternative care for 1 child. My rough estimate is that the first amount is at least 400 times higher than the second. The choice State makes is between 5,647 kids and 400 times that amount, which are 2,258,800 kids. Would it be an argument for State not to change its ways because the 2,258,800 children will stay in their own country and won't populate American families?

The Talmud has an often-used saying: "Whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world." It would be for God-abusers a great way out of the ethical dilemma that the adoption of one child, is an individual act: it can been understood as an act with a wider, a cosmic perspective. The saying however is preceded by the less often quoted words: "Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world." To adopt one so-called orphan, one of the millions orphans on earth, means not adopting all the others. I don't think that the 5,647 souls compensate for the millions of destroyed souls in 2015.

I don't know God. And I can therefore not rely on him for ethics. The God-abusers do. I know that they are wrong.