Religion and adoption

"International adoptions changing face, identity of American Judaism," said the headline on a Religion News Service article last week. The same could be said of most churches in America these days. When I visit other churches with our Vietnamese-born son and Chinese-born daughter, we almost always spot another family formed by transracial adoption.

The RNS story pointed out that for a religion for which ancestry is so important, Judaism is very accepting of internationally adopted children. "Judaism is a religion, not a race, and we are enriched by the diversity these kids bring," one cantor is quoted as saying.

I don't have any beef with Catholics' attitudes toward adoption, but I am frequently frustrated by evangelical Christians who believe adoption is a way to "save" an orphan--both from poverty and the heresy of a non-Christian life. A number of evangelical churches has started adoption ministries to encourage families to adopt. Some do focus on adopting harder-to-place children, who desperately need homes.

But most adoption specialists agree that an attitude of "orphan saving" is psychologically detrimental to adoptive children and later adults.

Adoption is just another way to build a family. No more, no less.

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