Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Correspondence

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Correspondence

Article excerpt

Fostering Care

I read with great interest Gregory Popcak's "Misplacing Children" (June/July). As the father of four adopted children and as a leader of an adoption ministry at our local evangelical church, adoption occupies a central place in the life of our family.

I, too, am saddened by the decision of Massachusetts to force the hand of Catholic Charities of Boston regarding its adoption placement practices. As a general matter, I do not believe it is appropriate for the government to force a child-placement agency to provide adoption services to gay and lesbian couples when to do so would violate its long-standing moral and religious beliefs. And given the significant number of religious organizations that provide child-placement services in the United States, and the fact that a great many of these organizations hold similar views with respect to the appropriateness of adoptions by gay and lesbian couples, I fear that, if the laws of Massachusetts were to be taken up by a large number of other states, potentially dozens, if not hundreds, of child-placement agencies could be negatively affected.

Although I generally agree with Popcak, I think that he commits two serious errors. First, and most important, contrary to Popcak's supposed facts, there is a crisis in America concerning children who are waiting for permanent, loving homes and will in all likelihood never find them. According to recent statistics, an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 children (out of more than 500,000 children in the U.S. foster-care system) "age out" of foster care each year. Many of these children age out because they are considered "hard to place" with an adoptive family due to their age, race, and challenges they present (often as a result of past abuse, rejection, or neglect). Because these children never had the chance to experience the love and permanency of a healthy family during their most formative years, the results for them are all too often very bleak. The statistics regarding the extreme rates of homelessness, unemployment, and crime related to this population are truly heartbreaking.

With this in mind, it is difficult to understand how Popcak arrives at his conclusion that there are more than enough potential adoptive families to go around. Possibly he mistakenly included many adoption applications that are filed for international adoptions (nearly 23,000 in the United States in 2005) in the statistics used to arrive at his conclusion. But regardless, the unfortunate reality is that there are not enough potential adoptive homes to go around-not for the millions of orphans around the world and not for many orphans and at-risk children right here in America. In fact, there are currently more than 120,000 children in the U.S. fostercare system who are awaiting adoption, and only about 20 percent of those children are in pre-adoptive homes. Thus, it is not an "unlikely event," but rather the very real fact, that there are not currently enough married, heterosexual couples waiting to adopt a great many of these children, and in particular the "hard to place" children.

second, Popcak ends his article by pointing to the Church's insistence "that all children, especially adoptive children, deserve a mother and a father." I believe I understand well the point he is attempting to make: A mother and a father are God's ideal design. But we live in a broken and imperfect world, and I am afraid that this statement backhands many godly single men and women who have responded to God's call to adopt a child, even though God has not yet brought into their life a marriage partner (i.e., in the context of a Christian, heterosexual marriage).

Thus, it appears here that, as I see all too frequently, Popcak's conclusion conflates, albeit possibly unintentionally, the issue of singles adopting with the issue of gays and lesbians seeking to adopt. I know from many involved in our adoption ministry how hurtful and difficult that association is for them. …

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