In the midst of DRC hitting all sorts of media, there have been plenty of negative responses to people who are pursuing adoption from the Congo these days. The ones hitting home, have been those primarily directed at those of an Evangelical background. Here are a few words I’ve gathered in response:
Some of the criticisms I’d agree with. There is so much corruption and bad practice within the DRC, and even with agencies who have been removing children from there for years. It’s a country that has been treated like a child, and with very little respect internationally for over a century. This “freeze” on children leaving the country was partially how they intended to take the time necessary to change the structures/processes of adoption to ensure that justice was being served to both the children involved, and the nation as a whole (granted, with a bit of “We’ll show you we still have power.” intended). Instead of recognizing their sovereignty, and respecting the desire to improve conditions/processes in adoption, some are seeing it as a Holy obstacle that God wants them to thwart/overcome somehow…leading to child smuggling, hateful pressuring, and calling the world to gasp in disgust. Instead of being a loving community that wraps the DRC in prayer/support as they make the changes necessary, and try our best to care for the needs of the children as the process happens….some have begun to see those running the DRC as enemies of God. Although I’m not sure what I’d be saying if we were through the entire adoption process, and waiting to bring her home. 🙂
The goal isn’t to rescue every child from the DRC into an adoptive family. The goal is to reveal God and His love in a way that transforms the world. As a sub-goal, one of our goals as a family is to care for the needs of this child we’ve accepted a referral for….however we’re able. But it must still be done within the larger goal itself…not outside it. That’s why we’ve naturally taken to praying for things happening in the DRC, and the officials/structures involved. It’s why we’ve had hard conversations about what how we will respond even if the country doesn’t open up again, etc. That’s why we’re not waiting until we bring her home to declare, this direction we’ve taken was one born in our hearts out of prayer…confident God has been using every step to bring transformation. No matter what lies ahead.
That being said, I think some of the critiques commit the same error they accuse the Evangelical community of…viewing the issue from a Western mindset/context. Assuming every country has orphans, and probably around the same number of them…and so the true and best response to any orphan crisis is obviously that a countrys’ own people would rise up and adopt/make families for the children. That would be awesome, if A: The DRC had the financial resources and stability/infrastructure to do so, and B: The DRC didn’t have such a disproportionately high number of orphans due to the amount of rape/death-rate of parents. The statistics I found seemed to be somewhere around 5,000,000 orphaned in DRC (7.6% of the population), compared to 129,000 in the US as of 2006 (0.04% of the population, of which 39% were over the age of 10). So even taken from a humanistic/statistical point of view, the DRC needs people to reach out with their lives to bring Hope and Change to that region of Africa. People who will not just say, “Let me take a child off your hands, and make sure that child knows about Jesus.” But people who will say, “Let me connect the love of God growing in my family to the DRC…beginning with this adoption, and see what He might have in store.” I think that’s happening in far more cases than these criticisms would like to admit.
One article in particular, shows how removed the author is from the situation:
“On the…website the wording takes the perspective of the adoptive parents: our child, a foreign land, home. The child however is not yet ‘ours’, it is still part of the extended family and the community in which it was born, a Congolese child for whom the US is foreign and the DRC is home. It is an open question whether the Father to whom the Americans pray is the same as the Father to whom the Congolese pray. In other words the perspective is not that of the child; the child’s needs and wishes are not acknowledged nor analyzed, but appropriated and fashioned into the parents’ needs and wishes. The child has to travel to the parent not only in reality but also in a metaphorical and metaphysical sense. The black child has to become an American Evangelical God loving Christian like their white adoptive parents.”
Let’s pretend the writer is accusing us in this paragraph. They’re assuming this child we’re connected to is a “part of the extended family and community in which (she) was born, a Congolese child for whom the US is foreign and the DRC is home.” Using the words “family” and “home” here might be great for tugging on heart-strings when you’re trying to grab people’s emotions. But they don’t come anywhere close to describing where she lives right now. Undernourished, unhappy, and barely scraping by in an orphanage whose employees struggle to feed their own children. Laid out with over 30 others across a dirt floor every night, starving and alone each day. We’re not assuming here either, these things have been verified by actual visits and photographs. We’re not neglecting her perspective, needs, or wishes. We’ve connected with others who have begun to improve living conditions in that orphanage. But children deserve more than just “liveable” conditions. They deserve a family and home they can thrive in. We are not forcing a black child to come to white Christian America. We’re offering a Hope for tomorrow, and a new life…and an open door to continuing God’s efforts in the DRC. She’s offering us a transformed family, one called outside of itself, changing our identity as well. Authors like this will never understand that it can happen in great, God-revealing ways….because they’d rather focus on the few cases like the woman from Belgium caught smuggling her child, or the loud voices yelling against the corrupt leaders of the DRC and paint a caricature of all faith-based international adoptive families.
Ps: The author of the article quoted above does point out “Would a great parent not do everything for its child? Even move to the Congo?” I know I’ve jokingly mentioned it a couple times to my wife. This sounds like a romantic notion, but also a quick way to put an entire family in danger. With the current climate against Western adoption, to have a white family walking around with African children seems like it would be a great way to make yourself a target. I’m not saying it’s an impossibility, and I’m sure some families would head that direction if the country closed for good. But I don’t see it happening for our family this year.
We are still waiting for our case to even get the required permissions to go to court. This has taken much longer than originally anticipated, which leaves a lot of what will happen from here unknown. We’re thankful for all of our friends and family who are praying with us…that God will use our family to change the world (and our community), as we offer ourselves to Him…