Fan Question: “Why Don’t You Just Adopt?”

“You breeders are excited about your sixth kid? What is wrong with you? We’re overpopulated. Why don’t you do the Christian thing and adopt?”

Rude Ignoramus on Facebook (Paraphrase)

I’m not sure whether I should be offended by the term breeder or delight in it. It seems to me that taking easy offense is one of the most pernicious evils of our time, so I’ll just laugh it off. Sure, I’m a breeder. But I’m also an educator, a clothier, a cook, a moral compass, a warden when needed, and occasionally a Halloween candy thief. Being a parent is sort of a jack-of-all-trades thing.

Some time ago, an acquaintance was avidly telling me about his kids. He was so proud of them and their accomplishments! The conversation went on for a while before it became clear he was talking about his cats. “Oh, I don’t have any human children. Who would bring them into this world?”

That thought has always intrigued me. If the solution to the world’s problems isn’t in having good parents bring good men and women into the world — innovators and thinkers and teachers and leaders and lots of good support people — then what is the solution?

Adoption is definitely a Christian thing to do. My grandfather was a friend of Servant of God Fr. Edward J. Flanagan, Founder of Boys Town, which took in street urchins and wards of the state. More like a foster home situation that adoption, I’ll grant you, but the principle is the same: Christians take care of children in need. This has been a Christian activity since our days of saving the infants exposed to the elements by pagan parents, a practice now becoming increasingly — frighteningly — common once more.

What is certainly not the Christian thing to do is to go on preaching an anti-gospel of overpopulation, with its cadre of associated evils, such as abortion, contraception, euthanasia, and other choices that view life as a problem to be managed rather than a blessing to be embraced. The father of the overpopulation myth, Malthus, made clear his disdain for the poor and crippled and his desire to engineer a society where undesirables would be eliminated. The overpopulation myth today serves to continue that genocidal mentality rather than, say, solve the resource distribution problems that are the real root of the apparent problem.

It’s no surprise, really, that the overpopulation gospel isn’t focused on solutions. It’s an anti-gospel, demanding dogmatic faith in a doctrine directed toward fear, the fear of the other taking what is mine. (And for that reason, don’t expect to find many overpopulation apologists sharing their hope with needy kids.) Finding a way to better distribute resources according to the common good would put too much burden on them; far easier to just insist the poor and feeble die off, right? And if the Christians don’t want to take part in the genocide, we’ll just push adoption as their contribution.

As for the current state of adoption, it’s very often the Christians and not the selfish followers of the overpopulation anti-gospel who are shelling out the tens of thousands of dollars to overcome the obstacles to adoption. Calling out Christians for breeding more kids — an act of hope — while lambasting those same Christians for not doing enough adopting, apparently, is an interesting tactic. It puts all the attention on the Christians and none at all on the overpopulation apologists, whom I suspect are very busy indeed adopting … cats.

Adopt, Christians. Absolutely adopt. But don’t stop having kids, either. And all the kids you love into mature adulthood — whether they are of your stock or another’s — do it for the gospel of hope, never as a capitulation to the anti-gospel agenda.

“The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children.”

G.K. Chesterton

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  1. I always tell them I *am* a proud adoptive mother, then ask how many kids *they* have adopted. ….crickets…..

  2. If someone believes adoption will stop people from having more babies, then someone probably has some misinformed ideas about both human nature and adoption. Just because you want to raise someone else’s child does not give you the right to raise someone else’s child. See, e.g. the US Supreme Court case, Troxel v. Granville, 530 US 57 (2000), at Oyez last accessed December 2, 2019 (where the Court struck down a state law that allowed non-parents visitation rights over a parent’s objections because “[t]he liberty interest at issue in this case — the interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children — is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court”). Even if you want to raise someone else’s child, even if you love that child fiercely, even if that child loves you, even if you can provide for that child better than that child’s parent, that should not, by itself, give you a right to sever that child’s relationship with their parent and family. See Davis, Jessica, “The ‘orphan’ I adopted from Uganda already had a family,” CNN, first published October 13, 20017, last accessed December 2, 2019 at . Even when adoptions are ethical and lead to a loving, sensitive and supportive adoptive family, the adoptees sometimes feel angry, sad, guilty, or hurt by the loss of connection with their families. See Arias, Jessica, “Understanding the Happiness and Hurt Adoptees Feel,” published June 26, 2017, last accessed December 2, 2019>. I do not want to discourage anyone from loving, fostering, and/or adopting children by mentioning such things. I am not putting down anyone’s family or anyone’s love for their family. But adoption always starts with a loss or severing of a parent-child relationship – as well as relationship with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, future siblings or future half-siblings. I think we often have a distorted view of adoption when we focus solely on the happy moment when the gavel in the courtroom falls and the adoptive parents become the legal parents of a child they love.

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