Monday, June 4, 2012

A Dance with the Devil

This isn't easy to write. Where on earth to start? Let me start by saying that I am only writing about my own experience and what I observed. This is my view from my view point. Every adoption is different. And every experience is different. I know nothing about domestic adoptions, or even adoptions from countries other than Uganda.

For a year and a half we jumped through hoops. We did a state background check and an FBI background check. We wrote about ourselves. We asked our friends to write references about us. We answered detailed and personal questions about ourselves. Our doctors answered questions about our physical and mental health. We laid our lives bare. We did everything but a DNA test (which I am convinced they will start doing within the next 10 years). We signed over money, lots of money; personal checks, cashier's checks, wire transfers. 

When we started all of this we didn't really understand what we were getting into. Oh, we had researched it. We had researched adoption for 11 years when we submitted that first application. But you can never really understand something until you have been there, done that. 

Naturally the questions get raised. Why is adoption so difficult? Why is it so expensive? If kids need homes and it costs money to raise them in foster care, group homes, or orphanages, why don't they just give them away when people want them? Well you see, it's a dance with the devil.

During the adoption process I heard a lot about the importance of ethics in adoption. But the stories are deeply personal, painful. So they aren't really told. Not publicly at least. Until you get to the other side. You become part of the club. Then you are admitted to conversations that just aren't open to the public. Why? Would you share your deepest pain with the world? Would you share your child's? And yet when you hear these stories you realize that all along you were locked in a dance with the devil. All those prayers you prayed for guidance were said in the shadow of the greatest enemy.

I am going to tread lightly. To give you a glimpse of this secret world, all the while trying desperately to protect the innocent. My deepest hope is to bring understanding without losing trust and friendships. While the names aren't given, the stories are true. 

Adoption ethics.

We have all seen the made for TV movies where the desperate, childless couple hands over tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for a perfect little baby. And never once do our minds fathom the extent of this dark truth. We never think about the small children kidnapped from their loving parents. Parents too poor to protect their most valuable cargo. Too poor to fight back. Left to forever wonder about the fate of their precious babies. These little children are then sold to traffickers. Somewhere along the way the children are put in orphanages. And sob stories are sold to their unsuspecting, well meaning, adoptive parents.  

Or perhaps their new parents aren't as unsuspecting as they would like to think they are. Maybe they see a red flag or two but choose, against the intuition seeded deep in their hearts by the greatest Father of all, not to believe. Perhaps they justify this away with reasons like "even if they were kidnapped, they still need homes now.

While this might seem clear, what about the mother in extreme poverty who is told "if you really love your children you will give them away. Sure you feed them but you can barely pay their school fees. You can't do enough for them; give them to someone who can give them everything." Or maybe she is told "give your kids to us; they will go to school in America and come back when they are 18. You will see them again and they will bring you lots of money." If you were working 16 hours per day and sleeping on a dirt floor and feeding your kids nothing but empty starches, would your weary bones believe these lies?

Some people believe that all orphanages are bad. You see, many children in orphanages aren't orphans. Many have parents who simply can't feed them. Or maybe they can just barely feed them and they know that in the orphanage they will at least get some schooling, the only hope out of poverty. Some people believe that orphanages create orphans.

Now let me pause. When you think about poverty, do you think about the poverty line as defined by the U.S. government? Or do you think about a woman who makes actual mud pies and feeds them to her children in hopes of easing their tears of hunger pains for just a little while, all the while knowing that the parasites in the mud will only serve to kill them faster? Do you imagine a woman who used to make a living in prostitution who makes a choice to follow the Lord and forgo her only profession and watches her baby die, slowly, painfully, day over day, as a result of no longer having that money left for her after the deed was done? Do you imagine a child dropping out of school to care for her younger siblings while her own age still sits well in the single digits and the burns on her body show the results of an inexperienced child cooking over a real and open fire? Do you imagine young girls choosing to sell their own bodies to passing truckers in exchange for the school fees, thinking nothing of the morality of it, because the facts are that these choices promise the possibility of a better life?

I paint these pictures for you because I want to caution us all against the judgment of others that so freely flows from our privileged mouths. I do believe in right and wrong. I believe it is black and white... to God... but not to us. I am not saying that because we don't understand first hand, that we can just let these things happen. In fact quite the opposite. We do owe a duty to do our best as we are each responsible for our own actions.

Now if it's wrong to give money in exchange for a child, is it wrong to financially help a biological family after you have adopted the children that their poverty forced them to give up? What if that help later put the family in a position to now care for the children? Should you ever have adopted them? Should you have just helped them to begin with? Let's turn it around. Is it okay to adopt children and on your way out of the country say goodbye to the family saying "God bless you, I hope you are well" knowing full well that they have no food and no money and need for medical assistance which they can't possibly afford?

We met our kids' birth family. I received the blessing of their Grandmother who told me with her eyes that she trusted me, that she was thankful for me, that they were mine now. And even with that fear has filled my heart. What if they were paid? What if they lied? What if they forced our kids to tell lies upon threat of living in an orphanage forever? What if? What if? There is so much about my kids' past that I don't know. So I ask questions all the time. Open ended questions in hopes of a moment of sharing. I have hung on every word. And at times the words have frightened me. Did she just say that someone gave them money?!?! Who was it?!?! Why?!?! My additional questions have only served to conclude that my first reaction was a misunderstanding. I feel like my kids are finally at a point that they are now able to tell me about their history, when they want to, without much misunderstanding. And my fears have come to rest. Especially now that we have started calling "home" about once a month. I can't tell you the delight in their voices and their families' voices. It is the sound of love. We are truly fortunate to have this.

Countless families have learned questionable details and have elected to walk away from an adoption. Now it is a very real risk that the children could suffer from this. But I have no doubt that they did not take this action lightly. I can't imagine the pain that would have come with this choice. When we thought we had found our 4, only to find out that they had been split up already, I grieved. It was an adoption miscarriage. We were only 11 days along. Early term. But painful none the less.

Some parents have hired private investigators in Uganda to search out their kids' history. They have done this in hopes of being able to hand their kids a tangible piece of their past, their story. Often they have come up with more information about the family. But the sacrifice these families make when choosing to do this is immense! You see in doing this, they have to first decide that they were willing to deal with the truth if it turns out that their child was kidnapped and also belongs to someone else.

So what is right? And what is wrong? And so you see, you are in a dance with a devil. While my words are figurative, the subject matter is real. God adopted all of us. Some of us chose to refuse the love and shelter that He offers. But the offer is there... to all of us. And so while God did not create death and God did not create orphans, He did create adoption. And why wouldn't the devil want to mettle with all that is good?


  1. Amen amen amen and amen. So good. So true.

  2. I was just telling my uncle that I might not have the things I want, but I do have the things I need and we must remember how fortunate we are. Thank you again for bringing tears to my eyes:)


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