The Nation has just released an article by Kathryn Joyce, "The Evanglical Adoption Crusade," that looks at the Christian adoption movement that has been building steadily for the past three to four years:
Adoption has long been the province of religious and secular agencies, but in the past two years evangelical advocacy has skyrocketed. In 2009 Russell Moore, dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of the 2009 book Adopted for Life, shepherded through a Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) resolution calling on all 16 million members of the denomination to become involved in adoption or “orphan care.” Last year at least five evangelical adoption conferences were held, and between 1,000 and 2,000 churches participated in an “Orphan Sunday” event in November. And in February, the mammoth evangelical adoption agency Bethany Christian Services announced that its adoption placements had increased 13 percent since 2009, in large part because of the mobilization of churches.
As with previous coverage of international adoption in The Nation, the piece skews subtly negative, pointing out genuine causes for concern around the evengelical movement, yet at the same time minimizing the scope of the global orphan crisis and the genuine need for response. Writes Joyce:
the central problem [is ] in how most evangelical adoption ministries define the scope of the worldwide “orphan crisis.” As with the misleading estimates of Haitian orphans, the global numbers most frequently mentioned—ranging from 132 million to 210 million—paint an inaccurate picture, willfully misconstruing UNICEF tallies of developing nations’ vulnerable children, a category that includes children who have lost only one parent or who live with extended family.
Susan Bissell, UNICEF’s chief of child protection, says no good estimate exists of the number of orphans worldwide, but a 2004 UNICEF report calculated that there were at least 16 million children worldwide who had lost both parents.
It seems unfair to accuse the evengelicals of intentionally misusing statistics when the real problem is that reliable statistics don't exist. Both the pro- and anti-adoption factions are working with the same "numbers," interpreted differently. While the media needs to address the serious issues and concerns in the international adoption world, wouldn't it also be great to see a magazine do an investigative piece uncovering the reasons why the international community can't come up with reliable child welfare statistics?
The article also paints a picture of the evangelical community primarily driven to acquire children for Western conversion, giving short shrift to the many Christian orphan care initiatives working toward in-country solutions and family preservation.
Finally, Joyce predicts that with fewer stable adoption programs currently operating and the increased "demand" for children to adopt coming from the evangelical community, future crises in the adoption world are a given.
How do you feel about the Christian "adoption movement," and what do you think of The Nation's reporting?