Earlier this week I started explaining why Tim Tebow — worthy object of admiration, emulation, and intercessory prayer — is wrong on one not-too-small ethical issue. In this article, I’d like to conclude the relevant points, which include the harm done to the child, the harm done to the host family and community, the harm done to the native family and community, the theological error behind the modern craze of adoption, and the presence of viable, charitable alternatives to interracial adoption.
4. While some interracial (aka transracial) adoptees may feel just fine about their identity and place in a majority-white environment, there are just too many adoptees who openly talk about interracial adoption’s negative effects for us to ignore.
Individuals speaking out on blogs, large numbers of them surveyed in academic literature, and documentaries following adoptees as they search for their true (i.e., ethnic, biological, natural) homes all attest to the incredible power of racial belonging and racial identity.
The modern egalitarian’s claims that “God doesn’t see color,” “color doesn’t matter,” or “there is only one race — the human race” are obviously false in light of these adoptees’ testimony. Not only is it false, though — it is cruel, harmful, deceptive, and intolerable.
I’ll flesh this out more in a future article, but this quote from transracial adoptee Shaaren Pine will have to suffice for now.
I was carrying the weight of growing up in an all-white town in an all-white family, unbearably alone and hopelessly on display. It was impossible for me to embrace adopted-ness, or brownness or Indian-ness. And there was no space for me to be confident or beautiful because I was too busy wanting to be white or petite or not-adopted, like my friends.
Primary responsibility for any hardships these adoptees have had to endure belongs with the birth families and countries more than the adoptive ones, but it is wrong for white Christians to encourage a system that puts non-white kids in this position. May the Lord prevent our own white children from being further divorced from their own sense of identity and belonging, through our wholehearted return to fulfilling our God-given duties towards them!
5. I’ve already indicated why it’s wrong in principle to bring strangers into your home, but let’s look now at why it’s harmful in effect. All one needs to do is to turn on the local news, or read the courts and crimes section of the daily metro paper, to see what happens when large numbers of non-whites come into majority-white societies. The victims include whites as well as non-whites. The data is long-term, comprehensive, and not isolated to one area or country. Putting adoptees or “refugees” into one’s home, community, or country dramatically increases the odds that those locations will become crime scenes.
Additionally, it breaks down the cohesiveness of those institutions. As with gender, when you introduce heterogeneity into an otherwise homogenous population, you irreversibly change that population’s norms and culture. Put black kids in a white home and you lose part of what made that home unique and successful. Put women in an all-male military unit and the levels of social trust in that unit declines. It’s like clockwork. It’s very predictable. It’s not due to a lack of well-intentioned efforts, but due to laws of nature. Individuals and groups require a dominant personality, culture, and faith. Once you mix strangers into that group you effectively give notice that the previously-dominant persons, culture, and faith are on their way out. Divisions and distrust arise because large percentages of the group will resist that change, since what’s being displaced is ultimately their own identities and their own selves. Ergo, forced integration of the races, sexes, faiths, and so on follow, as does a corresponding rise in alienation, loneliness, passive-aggressive behavior, and latent hostility.
It takes two to tango, however, and I would be remiss if I didn’t note the acute sense of grief, humiliation, and hostility that interracial, international adoption evokes from the adoptees’ native communities. We see similar dynamics at work in black-white race relations in the United States, where one side feels their generosity has been rewarded with resentment and violence, and the other side feels offended by the supposed arrogance and brutality of their benefactors.
Russians saw 60,000 of their children adopted by Americans from 1991-2012, and their patience with that arrangement reached a breaking point in 2012, when several Russian kids died while in the care of their adoptive American parents. Closer to home, Haiti’s government charged ten Americans with child abduction after the white, evangelical do-gooders scooped up 33 black kids after Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake.
Both the Russian and Haitian governments claimed they wanted nothing but the best for their orphans, but carried out their anti-adoption moves regardless of how much more affluence their orphans would experience in the United States. Why? Because non-whites and non-Americans still understand that giving your children (and women) to strangers is the worst possible fate of a man or a nation. It is conquest. Russia and Haiti, for all their problems, would rather live in dignified poverty than prosper as emasculated beggars.
6. Believers have begun to make arguments that Christianity requires us to adopt orphans from the other side of the world. Like the bogus arguments David Carlton highlighted in his dissection of David Platt’s case for Muslim resettlement in America, advocates for interracial adoption contend that whatever wealth, freedom, and happiness white Christians possess must be reallocated to godless foreigners. They argue that the “haves” of the Western world owe a duty to “have nots” outside our families, communities, nations, and faith.
One of the ways they do this is by likening us to God. Our Heavenly Father, they say, adopted us into His family though we were strangers and foreigners (Ephesians 2:19). Therefore, we should also open our homes and families to people that were aliens, enemies, and even haters of our God and our people. It’s how God treated us, so we should do the same for others.
The kneejerk reaction — “That’s nuts!” — is rooted in Scripture. The theological error motivating Tebow stems from a failure to distinguish between how and in what ways we are to imitate God. God has communicable attributes and incommunicable attributes. His communicable attributes like love, mercy, and justice, can be shared with His creatures. Christ commanded us to “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Christ wasn’t telling us there to be literally perfect in all ways like the Divine Being. Given your mortal limitations and sinfulness, that would be impossible. He meant “be like God in the ways in which you can as mere mortals.” In the context, He was probably referring to showing mercy, as the parallel passage in Luke 6:36 indicates. In contrast, God’s incommunicable attributes like knowing everything, being everywhere at all times, always existing, and infinite power, cannot be shared with His creatures.
Unfortunately, when people advocate for interracial, international adoption these days and appeal to our sense of gratitude at having been spiritually adopted by our Heavenly Father, they are telling us to act like God in His incommunicable attributes. That is impossible, and the push to get people to act like God in those ways always ends up in sinful, miserable, disaster.
For example, men and women simply cannot take the abuse that God does. No one suffers more abuse and neglect, on a constant basis, than God. However, He is infinitely patient and strong. While the Bible tells us He has feelings, the Bible is equally clear that no one can hurt God. It’s a bit of a paradox, but we acknowledge both truths to be absolutely and equally true. In the context of our sinfulness, it’s good to know that we can’t hurt God so much that it’ll cause Him to reject us. No, He often saves the most unworthy persecutors of His Church and haters of His name imaginable — just see the Apostle Paul.
However, we are not built like that. We are designed to endure and recover from a limited amount of unjust treatment. Ask any parent, grandparent, teacher, police officer, social worker, or minister, and they could regale you with tales of the real heartache they’ve endured at the hands of the people they’re obligated to protect and serve. All of these people are pushed to the breaking point regularly by the people for whom God, through natural and ordinary means, has made them responsible. How could they possibly heap an additional 1-7.5 billion total strangers onto their shoulders? By making the argument that God adopting us is a 1:1 analogy to us adopting foreigners (or admitting them into our countries), we violate a divinely-ordained limitation on the amount power one person can possess, or how much suffering he can undergo.
It also fails to limit the biblical teaching of adoption (in which God adopts sinners into His family) to its biblical scope. Imagine if evangelicals started misapplying the biblical doctrine of justification (in which God deems us innocent and righteous as a matter of law, on account of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross) to accused criminals in the nation’s courts. Imagine accused criminals being set free in the streets because we believe that Christ died for our sins. Wouldn’t that be obviously “nuts!” and a bad, bad way to abuse a precious biblical doctrine? So too their abuse of the precious doctrine of adoption.
Last time I checked, God didn’t adopt people until He changed their hearts, regenerated them from spiritual death to spiritual life, received their total allegiance as Lord and Savior, and began a lifelong process of sanctification through repentance. I’m pretty sure that’s not in any adoptive parent’s abilities to do. Why then are we listening to people misapply the doctrine of adoption to the detriment of everyone involved?
7. For those who feel inescapably called to serve orphans of other races and nations, alternatives to adoption include:
- Missionary work in the orphans’ native communities. This could take the form of teaching academics, doctoring and nursing, veterinary, agricultural, or industrial service, or teaching the Bible and pastoring.
- Building businesses, creating jobs, and therefore establishing better conditions for the orphans and their communities.
- Advocating for their native governments and cultural institutions to root out progress-retarding problems such as corruption, crime, disease, ignorance, immorality, and anti-Christian superstition.
In other words, do what our forefathers like William Carey, Hudson Taylor, and David Livingstone did when they brought the Gospel, medicine, science, and progress to the rest of the world. If you want to help strangers, do it the way our ancestors did. They did it very well and it did not deprive their countrymen of peace or prosperity.
There is something cool in bringing people from every ethnic background together. In heaven people of many ethnicities will be side by side praising God. But that neither (a) means they need to destroy their ethnic identity and homogeneity, or (b) means that we have to ignore the safety factors that accompany our differences in this present life.
The interracial, international adoption craze is all so unnecessary. It’s a fad with tragic consequences. Like many well-intentioned bright ideas, this one will go the way of the Hindenburg. The people who give their ancestors’ names, children’s inheritances, community’s peace, and nation’s integrity for the sake of a false moral code which conveys temporary status and good feelings will themselves disappear. Their actions will be reinterpreted and condemned, and their names trampled by their enemies.
Thankfully, Tim, it’s not too late. My prayer is that you’ll thoughtfully, prayerfully consider the arguments laid out here, and that God will bring you a Proverbs 31 woman with whom you can pass on your family’s precious legacy through children of your own, and with whom you all can do the work God has enabled you to do — on behalf of our own people, as well as others.