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Trendy Adoption?

As hard as it is to believe, my two lovely children are on the verge of completing their first decade on planet earth. It’s been an incredible ride so far. We have been blessed beyond measure both with the members of our family and how we have been put together.

Our own adoptive journey came to mind when I was directed to this post by Megan Hyatt Miller (h/t: Jesus Creed) on whether or not adoption is becoming “trendy.”  I suspect many of us, in our more cynical moments, have wondered after, say, the fifteenth celebrity adoption headline of the week, whether or not the kids being adopted were at least partially being pressed into the service of the personal branding of rich Westerners. We’re so desperate for something to set us apart, after all, something to mark us off as unique, noteworthy, special. And a couple of kids whose skin is a different colour than our own will not only get us noticed, but will likely make us seem virtuous for heroically “rescuing” some disadvantaged child from heartbreaking circumstances. Win win, right?

Our story is not one of international adoption (i.e., we didn’t travel overseas), but our kids are a different ethnicity than either myself or my wife. Does this make us trend chasers? Well, I think that Miller very ably articulates, from a Christian perspective, some of the reasons why this is not necessarily the case. Here are her five reasons (in bold) with some of my own commentary between each:

1. There is a difference between a trend and something that is “trendy.”

… and some trends are good. Even if people’s motives are less than completely pure (and really, which of any of us does anything with completely pure motives?), kids are finding homes. Which is good. Full stop.

2. Adoption is not a new idea, but Christians are finally starting to take the biblical mandate to care for orphans seriously.

…What is new, I suspect, is the possibility of adoption as personal branding/identity bolstering. Although it’s always been possible (and tempting) to make a show of one’s good deeds…

3. Now, more than ever, Christians place a premium on alleviating the suffering of others.

… Maybe. I think that parts of the evangelical world are waking up to the wider implications of the gospel. But more than ever? Hmm… I tend to be suspicious of “now, more than evers…” But to whatever extent Christians are adopting in order to alleviate suffering, I think this is to be commended.

4. Transracial adoption reminds us of what the Kingdom of God looks like.

… Amen. The kingdom of God is not comprised primarily of white Westerners (thanks be to God!).

5. Those interested in being “cool” are quickly weeded out by the process.

… I don’t know of this personally, but I do think that the novelty of adoption would wear off for those who are pursuing it for the wrong reasons. It can be a costly, time-consuming, and invasive process to adopt. Hopefully this weeds out those who shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

In addition to these five, I would add something that, while hardly unique, I have learned from our own journey. Quite simply, being an adoptive parent has given me a deeper appreciation for what it means to be adopted as a child of God than I would have otherwise had. Adoption—whether my children’s adoption, or my own adoption into the family of God—is a beautiful thing. Of that, I am absolutely convinced.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. 

Galatians 4:4-5 (NRSV)

Photo courtesy of Julien Photography.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ken #

    All the people I know who have adopted children have adopted children from other places. I don’t think any of them was trying to do something trendy or moral. They wanted children and foreign adoption was the only realistic option. I don’t think they thought of themselves as rescuing a child.

    I have had the sense some people have wanted to befriend my wife and I because we are a mixed couple. It is a cool thing among liberals to be mixed. But my wife and I just fell in love, just as we are.

    There is something more than cool going on in the world. Something more than moral. Love has lost its borders.

    But if you want cool – my wife and I, mixed as we are, live in a cool mixed urban area, mixed by race, mixed by income, mixed by sexuality, one of the coolest in cool southern California. We eat grains and vegetables, fruits and nuts. My wife works for a mixed company that has a feminist cachet. I am an ecological activist, a conservationist working to protect endangered and threatened plants and animals and every other specie as well, along with rocks and mountains and streams. Not only that, we ride bikes. We have no children – our biggest contribution to stemming global warming. (Adoption is just as cool in that respect.) Surely this is like the Kingdom of God, is it not? It is cool to live there too, is it not?

    June 6, 2011
    • Well, that’s a lot of cool… Certainly more than I can muster. Luckily, I suspect the Kingdom of God has room for both the very cool and the less cool and everyone in between :).

      “Love has lost its borders.” I like that.

      June 7, 2011
      • Ken #

        Re: “the Kingdom of God has room for both the very cool and the less cool and everyone in between”

        Yes, it does. It is not bound by culture the way the meaning of “cool” is bound.

        You did not adopt your children to be cool. I did not marry my wife to be cool. It was love. I am involved in conservation because of love. Biking is just sweet pleasure.

        Even while I realize that my life is wrapped up in what is cool now in southern California, at least among liberals, I don’t admire the pretensions associated with coolness. I find them ridiculous.

        It is not cool to think about God so much, at least not here and in this time. This keeps me from being cool. It does not fit with the rest in the land of cool. Ecology is founded on the words of Darwin, not of the prophets.

        June 7, 2011
      • It isn’t cool to think about God so much here, either. Much cooler to think about private personal “spirituality” disconnected from (or in direct opposition to) “religion”—and if you can connect it with an environmental ethic of some kind, so much the cooler (and more righteous)!

        June 7, 2011
      • Ken #

        I think the private spirituality of our day is related to the alienation that we tend to feel in modernity. I feel sympathy for those who express their hearts this way, even while I see it as falling short of what we need.

        In spite of my own love for nature and participation in conservation, I don’t like the righteousness associated with environmentalism and don’t have sympathy for it. Much of it is really the NIMBY kind anyway, which is not what it takes for a right relation with the rest of life and the planet. And even where the spirit of Aldo Leopold is found, it is too often accompanied by a dreadful righteousness and moralistic anger and condemnation.

        June 8, 2011
  2. Paul Johnston #

    Your only cool if your kids say so, that’s the rule. Once they’re past the age of 12 they rarely if ever do. Tops, you got two years of cool left, Ryan. 🙂

    What a blessing you all must be to each other. We need more stories about men loving and affirming their families. I believe most of us do, though you might not think it from the press we get.

    June 7, 2011
    • Two years, eh? I guess I’d better enjoy my coolness while it lasts… 🙂

      (Yes, I am blessed beyond measure by my family.)

      June 7, 2011

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