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Archive for the ‘Interracial Adoption’ Category

A reader wrote asking what might be done in his local church to counter the adoption mania being pushed on so many families.  My edited reply is below:

1. Racial differences and ethnicity are subtle statistical phenomena.  Most people (and especially theology-oriented people) are unable to think beyond binary “right or wrong” issues.  For example, because blind racial supremacy is obviously wrong (e.g. “All blacks are inferior to all whites”), they think that means that the opposite must be true, i.e. blind racial egalitarianism.  Very few people are going to understand the principles of a normal distribution that differs as to mean and standard deviation.  When I was in engineering school, it was this very concept (computing the areas under a normal distribution curve) in an introductory engineering course that washed out about a quarter of the freshmen.  I can virtually guarantee no minister is going to take the time to understand this, and many of them simply cannot.  Yet because of the cultural bias they feel qualified to speak to things they really don’t understand.

2. On top of the subtle mathematical reality of racial differences, we have to grapple with another hard-to-understand statistical-ethical concept, the “tragedy of the commons.”  Adopting one more child from Africa means the world for that child, and has almost no marginal effect on the rest of society.  However, multiply that one hundred million times over and you have a problem.  Our productive, Western society is like a giant commons (a field where anyone can graze their cattle).  Everyone thinks the resource is inexhaustible and bears no personal cost for depleting the resource.  Or to reference another analogy, the old starfish story: a man is throwing washed up starfish into the ocean, is challenged by someone saying he is wasting his time, because there are so many starfish.  He replies “well it makes a difference for this one.”  You see the same reasoning going on with those who adopt. The problem with this analogy is that everything has an opportunity cost, yet a third subtle statistical-economic hard-to-understand concept.  If I spend 12 hours a day throwing starfish back into the ocean, I am not spending time with my family or earning any money to support them.  Similarly, most people see that they would be foolish to adopt 20 African orphans (though I’m sure there’s a family out there who will do this), because there would be costs to their family.  Well, the same costs exist with one adopted child as with twenty.  Unless you’re the Duggars or have fertility issues, most families have a practical limit as to how many children they can handle.  Adopting a child ultimately means one less natural child.

3. I don’t think most people will ever understand rationally why this is bad, anymore than people understood, until fairly recently, exactly why eating rotten meat was bad for you.  The stench was enough to stop the behavior, not some abstract germ theory.  Many white people have a genetic defect, which is an unusually low level of ethnocentrism, akin to a predilection for eating rotten meat (actually, Swedes DO eat rotten fish, and like it).  I think this trait was bred out of us due to our isolation in Northern Europe, where suspicion of others became a liability when everyone was your third cousin and you needed exceptional community-level cooperation to survive the harsh winter.  Some white people have the instinct, some don’t.  Those who are wild-eyed fanatics about adopting you can never convince.  Our focus must remain on those who do have the instinct, but feel pressure to conform.  Much of my writing is an effort to produce an apologetic that will provide cover for those with healthy instincts.  A lot of this is limited to Northern Europeans.  I have some Cajun and Native American blood, and most of my European heritage is Celtic, not Nordic, so I believe this accounts for the relatively strong ethnocentric instinct I have.  You rarely see Italian, French or Greek whites doing this sort of thing.

4. There is also an enormous amount of pride and moral posturing in regards to adoption.  White people carry around a lot of white guilt from decades of propaganda, and what better way to alleviate that than to adopt a black.  See, we’re not racist, really!  Even better if a nasty racist actually objects to your adoption!  You’re so non-racist you’re being persecuted for it!  This moral posturing, supported by the entire establishment, church and state, makes it impossible to attack the problem directly through reason.  The more the “racist” reasons with someone, the more holier than thou they feel.  All false belief systems give a great amount of pleasure to their adherents because it makes them feel like a member of an exclusive group.  In fact, it is precisely the irrationality that so effectively separates the chosen from the “gentiles” so to speak.

Another issue: we both like to be part of theologically robust churches, which typically means smarter churches full of middle class professionals.  These people tend to be the very ones who have the wrong instincts.  Very few country churches with a “normal” sampling of white people are jumping on this bandwagon.

5. The best we can do at this point is to attack the problem sideways.  Some sideways objections I’ve covered:

a. Adoption is expensive, bad stewardship.  If you don’t own your house, you have no business adopting for $20k.  You are choosing to keep debt rather than pay it off, and God does not bless debt.  Dave Ramsey makes this very argument when people ask him if they should do something optional or pay off their house.  He puts it to them this way, “if you owned your house, would you borrow money against it to do this?  Because it’s the same question.”

b. Adoption is baby stealing.  Point out examples of corruption in Third World countries, where babies are being sold to Westerners who think they’re adopting:

http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/05/05/pm-dark-side-chinese-adoptions/

c. Adoption doesn’t solve anything.  Roy Beck’s “Gumballs” video is an excellent formulation of this argument:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPjzfGChGlE

Roy does a great job of showing us how to present our message in the right way, as a caring, respectable white person.  Roy is a good Methodist, so he understands messaging to upper middle class white people well.

Adoption is a not a practical solution.  The solution to the world’s problems must be implemented in those countries.

What you’re trying to do is provide a fig leaf “excuse” for those with the proper instincts to opt out of the massive pressure the churches are putting on people to adopt.

6. This may sound depressing, that all we can do is mitigate the mania.  History teaches us all manias have a way of self-destructing.  During the Tulip bubble, when a tulip bulb cost more than a home in Amsterdam, the best course was to not buy tulips.  There was no hope in the midst of the mania to stop it.  Humans are too irrational.  I believe we are at the tail end of a multi-decade economic mania, and it is natural in flush times for people to believe that common sense wisdom no longer applies.  Adopting African babies is every bit as logical as investing in a dot-com with a sock puppet commercial during the Super Bowl.  There is ample evidence that much is below the surface.  During the early 90’s recession, David Duke and Pat Buchanan almost broke out into the mainstream.  During this recession, the Tea Party spontaneously erupted.  Ethnocentrism tends to come back with a vengeance when people lose their faith in the free lunch and permanent boom.

7. The adoptions themselves will eventually provide a deterrent.  Inter-racially adopted blacks are just going to have all kinds of problems that nice upper middle class white people aren’t prepared for.  I think when these cute little babies grow up into sexually mature Africans in about 15 years you’re going to see people become more cautious.  To make another analogy, a lot of homeschooling families we know, in addition to being adoption enthusiasts, are home birth, anti-vaccine and raw milk enthusiasts (and if you believe in these things, I apologize, but these are my opinions).  You can do something foolish for a long time with no consequence.  But eventually, somebody’s kid is going to have cerebral palsy because a midwife couldn’t perform a c-section.  Eventually, the nice farmer you’re buying raw milk from is going to have an anthrax outbreak in his cattle.  Eventually, some of these kids are going to die from previously eradicated diseases because the parents weren’t wise enough to vaccinate in a country filled with Third World immigrants who handle food.  Then the enthusiasm for these things will wane.  Louis Pasteur was not a tool of big pharma: he was a Christian who developed vaccines and pasteurization processes to keep people from dying from preventable causes.  Similarly, our ancestors were not evil racists who just wanted to keep black people down; there were reasons behind their attitudes that conformed to reality.  But it can go on for a long while.  Man is depraved in every faculty, and the best we can often do is two steps forward, one step back.

One of the big problems driving all of this irrationality is the emotion-driven pseudo-spirituality.  These folks may claim they have real theology, but to a man (or woman) they really believe in private revelation.  God “revealed” to them that they shouldn’t vaccinate, or they “feel comfort as a mother” in feeding their kids raw milk.  They turn the birthing process into almost a sacrament of spirituality, instead of the serious medical procedure it actually is.  The popular theologians, even the ones who claim to be robust, promote this kind of reasoning, and the same kind of vacuous spirituality drives the adoption mania.  We have yet to fully purge out the navel-gazing pietism even in these supposedly conservative churches.  BTW, a great popular book discussing this is “Just Do Something”:

http://www.amazon.com/Just-Do-Something-Decision-Without/dp/0802458386/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1299167543&sr=8-1

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I have observed with some alarm the Christian fad of interracial adoption. More and more people I know are doing this and I thought a contrary perspective might be useful. Since the spirit of our postmodern age is to meet any disagreement with one’s lifestyle choices with personal offense, it is best that this critique is offered anonymously here.

I understand that I will change few minds, especially among those who have already adopted interracially. Nevertheless, I feel I must say my piece and perhaps influence and encourage a few souls out there who feel social pressure (masquerading as superior spirituality) to do this but know somehow it’s probably a bad idea. This is addressed particularly to men, who as heads of their families may be able to better evaluate this choice in an objective manner.

Let’s discuss a number of reasons why interracial adoption might be a bad idea.

1. The Feminization of Christianity

This reason is fundamental to the rest, as all of my arguments are to some extent based on reason. However, in most of the evangelical church these days, reason is seen as unspiritual while following the wisps of one’s emotions is seen as very spiritual.

Life, of course, would be meaningless without emotion, but emotion without reason is insanity. The head must lead the heart, yet much of Christianity today consists of Christians using their heart (which they assume is the true voice of God in their life) to overcome the perfectly rational objections of their head.

For example, churches go into deep debt to build new facilities because the pastor has a vision, and the emotion of that vision trumps the Biblical wisdom on debt. Much of this can be attributed to the feminization of the church, where the male tendency to analyze objective facts to arrive at a decision is derided as inferior spiritually to the more feminine decision making process.

Biblically, of course, both approaches are important, but it is also clear the husband is placed in authority over the wife at least partially because of this difference in reasoning styles. Neither is superior, as both are necessary for good decisions, but ultimately facts and reason must enjoy a privileged position over emotion. Men and women are fallen creatures who can use their emotions to justify any decision, whereas facts tend to be more stubborn things and more resistant to our vanity.

In interracial adoptions, I have noticed that many if not most of these are driven by the female half of the couple, and the decision is reached very emotionally. First, the excitement of discovery that you could adopt and the natural excitement that accompanies the idea of a new child. Second, the reluctance and fear of the unknown. Third, the thrill of the rescue fantasy, which appeals to our vanity as we think of ourselves as “rich Americans” (Americans are rich in debt as a rule, but little else) traveling the world to save a poor little orphan. Fourth, the drama of the process, meeting the child, and taking them home.

For many people, this process produces an emotional high more attractive than simply bearing their own child (though in many cases it must be noted these adoptions are done by Christians who cannot have any or more children for whatever reason).

The man in the relationship is at a significant disadvantage in attempting to process this through his natural thinking process. Any objection is either chalked up to A) the devil is trying to stop us or B) you’re not as spiritual as me because you won’t “let go and let God”. It never occurs to them that ANY foolish idea can be justified in this manner, where rationally assessed roadblocks are seen as tools of Satan and any progress is interpreted as a “sign” of God’s approval.

The truth is that God’s Will is simply whatever happens, and it’s impossible to know in advance what His Will is, because it’s impossible to know the future as a human being. The best we can do is pray for wisdom and use the brain God gave us to make a good decision. This endless spiritual navel-gazing, tea-leaf-reading and drama is not Christianity.

I really wish every Christian would read the book Just Do Something. There’s really not a whole lot I can add to that book’s take on the will of God. It’s quite liberating for those stuck in “prayer paralysis.”

So let’s move on to the practical reasons. Feel free to disagree with one or all, but here they are.

2. The Fundamental Nature of Race and Tribe

The Bible is very big on tribes and genealogy. Western individualism is a foreign concept to Old Testament Hebrews, who were very aware that tribal and racial distinctions were important to God. I will not belabor this point, as it will be covered more thoroughly in a subsequent post on interracial marriage, but let us just consider an example.

The logical end result of interracial adoption and interracial marriage is a world of people with no identifiable single racial heritage, a total mixing of all peoples, tongues and nations. Such a situation is ideal for the establishment of a world government.

I believe the Bible makes it clear at Babel that such an outcome would multiply evil in our world. John Calvin attempts to explain the Providence of national and racial distinctions:

“Just as there are in a military camp separate lines for each platoon and section, men are placed on the earth so that each nation may be content with its own boundaries. [In this manner,] God, by his providence, reduces to order that which is confused.”

3. Potential Psychological Issues Among Adopted Interracial Children

One obvious problem with interracial adoption is that the child knows they are obviously different from the rest of the family from a very young age. One benefit of intra-racial adoption from birth is that the tender child enjoys a time of “plausible deniability” and the fact of their adoption can be dealt with when the child is more mature and able to handle the situation.

Race and tribe are also fundamental parts of who we are. The child already has the emotional burden of not being raised by their biological family, but also the burden of not even being raised among their own people, but being raised by strangers in a strange land. Since everyone wants to have an ethnic identity, this could lead to serious problems as the child approaches adulthood and starts to form their self-image.

For example, see here.

Barack Obama is the epitome of the psychological issues associated with mixed race families.  Here is a man abandoned by his black African father, raised by his white mother, Asian stepfather and white grandparents.  Yet his whole life he has desperately sought to prove himself “black enough” because of his confused heritage.  Though a talented individual, he has embraced poisonous left-wing ideology in a continual attempt to earn his father’s approval.

4. Financial Issues

Part of the reasoning of international, transracial adoption is the idea that we as Christians in America are very “blessed” and we should seek to share this blessing. You would think America was a nation of people living on majestic estates, nobly allowing foreign peasants to work their fields. In reality, the middle class lifestyle enjoyed by many American Christians is a hollow edifice built on easy credit and debt.

These adoptions can cost north of $20,000 net of travel, fees, etc.  Most of the people paying this outrageous amount don’t even own their house, not to mention car notes and student loans.  American Christians assume the good times will go on forever and so think nothing of spending this kind of money on an adoption.  The fantasy of being someone’s benefactor is irresistible to people who are in reality debt and wage slaves in need of liberation themselves.  If the family’s income were cut in half, how long could these “rich” American Christians maintain their lifestyle?

If their house were paid for, would they borrow against their equity to pay for the adoption?  It’s the same question when Christians put $20,000 towards an unnecessary expense like international adoption, money that could be used to liberate themselves from debt bondage.  The New Testament commands us to (legally) seek our freedom if we are slaves.  Debt slavery is in some ways worse, as it gives the illusion of freedom and hides the true nature of our situation.

5. Moral Issues with Some Transracial Adoption

Many of the children adopted are special needs.  While it is truly a terrible lot to be born special needs in a poor country, why do you think their home countries are willing to allow Americans to adopt them?  Simply, because exporting these children relieves their home countries of social costs and places them on American society.

American laws require employer health insurance to cover adopted special needs children the same as natural born children, some of whom immediately need hundreds of thousands in medical treatments, and a lifetime of continuing care (disabled children can remain on their parent’s health insurance indefinitely regardless of age).

I am an employer who runs a small business.  We have a group policy whose cost is driven by the usage of the plan.  If one of my employees were to deliberately seek out a special needs child to adopt, that child’s immediate and continuing medical needs would drive the premiums for the rest of our group sky-high.  It’s one thing if a natural born child is afflicted with a problem.  This is the purpose of insurance, to insure against unpredictable risks.  But when we deliberately add known risks to an insurance pool, it unfairly drives up costs for everyone.

So “rich” American Christians delay paying off or go into debt to finance the adoption, and then sponge on their employer’s health insurance to pay for special needs medical care.  Everyone pays the cost in increased insurance premiums, but the individual family gets the credit for “saving” a child from a Third World existence.  It is fundamentally immoral in my view to burden one’s employer and fellow employees in this way.  No one has the right to force someone else, even under cover of law, to participate in their charity.

6. Birthright / Legacy Issues

My postmillenial tendencies cause me to take a long view of my family.  My natural-born children have a birthright in their inheritance, the accumulated capital of their family.  This is the vision of the Biblical trustee family.  I do not believe it is fair to force my natural born children to share with someone who is not, and to seek this out.  However, most Christians are debt slaves with no capital to speak of, and when they “die broke” there’s nothing left for any children to get anyway.  This is yet another problem with the debt slave mentality of most American Christians, always seeking out a short-term spiritual high instead of focusing on a multi-generational legacy.

7. Technology Issues

Adoption has historically been a local act of charity, most often among relatives and sometimes among unrelated people of the same race and nation, to meet a specific need of a specific orphaned child.  There is a world of need out there, and technology makes it easy to find this need.  However, there is more need out there than can ever be met with the limited supply of charity available.  Simply, adopting the Third World is not a sustainable strategy for helping the Third World (many Americans have a provincial naivety of the sheer number of people out there: there are 5 billion people on this planet poorer than the average Mexican), though the importation of millions of Third Worlders can certainly ruin a First World country.

Bottom line:

I would only consider adoption if Providence literally placed it in my path: a relative or local orphan with no other options who could be easily integrated in my family.  If I could not in good conscience integrate the child, I would work hard to find a family who could so the child could grow up with as natural an environment as possible.

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