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The creepiest sound I have ever heard was nothing at all. My wife, Maria, and I stood in the hallway of an orphanage somewhere in the former Soviet Union, on the first of two trips required for our petition to adopt. Orphanage staff led us down a hallway ...

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Leonard Nolt

July 16, 2010  8:19am

I found this article interesting and worthwhile but also missing an important ingredient. In addition to caring for orphans, Christians should alse be working at keeping children from becoming orphans in the first place. Probably more children become orphans as a result of military violence than for any other reason. The tendency of the US government to start wars in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, often with the support of US Christians, results in the wholesale destruction of families. Every Afghan or Iraqi killed or injured in these wars was/is a family member and each injury and death represents a family damaged or destroyed by US military violence. In warfare children are often left without a parent to care for them. As long as US Christians support US wars we are probably doing more to create orphans than to care for them. Sincerely; Leonard Nolt LeonardNolt@AOL.com

Leonard Nolt

July 16, 2010  8:17am

I found this article interesting and worthwhile but also missing an important ingredient. In addition to caring for orphans, Christians should alse be working at keeping children from becoming orphans in the first place. Probably more children become orphans as a result of military violence than for any other reason. The tendency of the US government to start wars in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, often with the support of US Christians, results in the wholesale destruction of families. Every Afghan or Iraqi killed or injured in these wars was/is a family member and each injury and death represents a family damaged or destroyed by US military violence. In warfare children are often left without a parent to care for them. As long as US Christians support US wars we are probably doing more to create orphans than to care for them. Sincerely; Leonard Nolt LeonardNolt@AOL.com

Leslie Starasta

July 10, 2010  3:29pm

Thank you for this excellent article. However, I would love to see more articles in CT on in-country orphan care, also known as community-based care which is the standard best practice in orphan care, to help more families stay in-tact rather than feel that as a single-parent in a developing country they are unable to care for their children.

Paul Ferrell

July 09, 2010  10:33pm

Russell, I appreciate how you bring the meaning of Abba to life in this article. John 1:11 was the verse that took on new meaning in my adopting story. We adopted an 18-month old from China and she did not want anything to do with me. It was probably natural for her to fear a light-skinned male, who was a complete stranger. But I was upset that she didn't realize how much I loved her and wanted to hug her and for her to know that I had (literally) come from the other side of the world to get her. Part of me selfishly wanted my love to be reciprocated. Then, clear as a bell, I heard in my spirit, "I came a long way for YOU"... and "You often don't love ME back". John 1:11 - Christ came to the world for His own, but He was not received. What a picture of salvation! Despite our rejections and passivity, He loved us and bought us with a high price. On July 22, we go back to China to adopt a 9 year old. Looking so forward to meeting her!

Gaye Tannenbaum

July 09, 2010  4:26pm

Julie - I'm really glad for the sake of your children that you went the Open Adoption route. Too many people think that relinquishing mothers of 20-60 years ago CHOSE closed adoptions as if Open Adoptions had always been around. Even though Open Adoption is the norm these days (thanks to the efforts of some courageous parents on both sides), the records are still sealed and the child is given an altered "birth" certificate which falsifies an actual historical event. Add to that the fact that Open Adoptions are not enforceable in most states and you have some relinquishing mothers feeling they'd been defrauded or worse. http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2009/10/06/shotgun-adoptions We need more adoptive parents to support restoring the rights of ALL adoptees to their own original unaltered birth certificates and to put a stop to the practice of "rewriting" history in the form of amended "birth" certificates. Thanks!

Julie Austin

July 09, 2010  3:08pm

Part 2: Gaye--We adopted through Bethany Christian Services and know they counsel birth mothers extensively and offer any needed social services. They only pursue adoption with the birth family when they are certain this is what the birth family desires. It is true that many birth mothers struggle after they have made their decision for adoption placement. Having an “open adoption” with the adoptive parents can greatly help those birth mothers who have chosen adoption for their child. This allows them to have ongoing contact with the adoptive family. We have an open adoption with our children’s birth family. We have sent letters and pictures of the kids since they were infants. We just recently spent some time with them over a couple days. We have a very open and stable relationship. Though all families cannot pursue open adoption for various reasons, we know that it greatly benefits not only the birth family, but the adoptive family as well.

Julie Austin

July 09, 2010  3:06pm

Part 1: Gaye—Thank you for your comments. I just want to clarify—When I spoke of inconvenient timing of a child’s birth—I was referring to some parents whose lives are “too busy” for a child or have several other children. As far as the inability of some parents to raise their child—this could be due to poverty, other disabilities, or possibly the young age of the parent. I don’t agree with all the birth families reasons for adoption placement, but the fact is—they have made a choice and their children need a home. At least they aren’t choosing abortion. Adoption agencies cannot control a parent’s choice or circumstances. I have seen some things online that propagate the idea that adoption agencies are out to just make money and “take away” children from their parents. Though I cannot speak for all agencies, I know full well that this not true for many agencies.

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Kay J

July 09, 2010  10:42am

Christine, With all due respect, I believe you are operating on two false assumptions. (1) You claim that removal is motivated by poverty. It is not. In many cases, these children have suffered sexual and/or physical abuse. If you have ever known anyone who has been a victim of sexual or physical abuse, you would understand how imperative it is to remove the child from that situation immediately. (2) You claim that the state seeks adoptive parents in an effort to assume the financial care of the child. The state subsidy does not necessarily end when foster parents adopt the child. In many cases, the state continues to subsidize the parents to defray the cost of the child's therapeutic care.

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Gaye Tannenbaum

July 09, 2010  10:30am

Dear Julie - I admire what you are saying and I agree that SOME children truly need to be removed from their biological parents because of abuse or neglect that may have nothing to do with poverty. Where I disagree is for those children who "are placed up for adoption due to either the inability of a parent to raise the child or the inconvenient timing of its birth". Absent abuse or neglect, since when does "inability to parent" or "inconvenient timing" become the reason for a child be completely and permanently severed from his/her biological family and have his/her identity erased? Why is adoption (which is permanent) THE solution for what is most likely a TEMPORARY problem? I don't know the nature of your significant experience with the adoption industry, but perhaps you can tell me why the fees are so high, other than the industry has customers willing to pay. Perhaps you haven't read "Birth Mother, Good Mother", a coercive piece of propaganda if ever there was one.

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Julie Austin

July 08, 2010  10:32pm

Christine--please be aware that many children who are in the foster system are not there just because of poverty but due to a dysfunctional birth family environment. Many of these children have either been abused or neglected. To reunite these children with their birth families would be hazardous if not fatal. Some children are placed up for adoption due to either the inability of a parent to raise the child or the inconvenient timing of its birth. Please be aware that the adoption industry, with whom we have had significant experience, is not out to make money and separate families, but to place innocent children in a safe and loving environment. Christians alone cannot even begin to totally resolve the poverty issue in America. Nor can they control the circumstances under which children are placed for adoption. The bottom line is there are children that need to be adopted and Christians can respond to that.

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Christine Monahan

July 08, 2010  8:03pm

Julie...the foster system in the US is designed to move children from home to home until they are adopted. It's all about money. Once adopted, the state doesn't need to pay for their needs. Foster parents are used by this corrupt system and their heart strings are pulled and twisted until they have no other choice but to adopt a child they have become extremely attached to and love. This is about the needless separation of children from their living parents due to poverty. This is WRONG. Christians should be helping families stay together. They should be sending financial support to help them provide for and keep their children. Instead, many Christians have been lured into the adoption industry and it's "rescueing orphans" fantasy. Scripture is twisted to rationalize the separation of these children from their living (90%) parent(s). The 5 BILLION DOLLAR A YEAR ADOPTION INDUSTRY has made many adoption "facilitators" wealthy with the exchange of flesh for money. This is evil.

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Julie Austin

July 08, 2010  1:34pm

Part 2--Jeff--These children need a permanent place to call home where their physical and emotional needs will be met. Most urban foster home children have to attend public schools. We live in a very large city which has one of the worst public school systems in America. We are blessed that we are able to send our children to private school, but ache for those that cannot. Once these children leave “the system” at age 18—they are left to fend for themselves. They may get state assistance, but often have either a small or non-existent family support system to help them reach the “future” they desire. As for your comments about “those who do nothing are the first to criticize”—We have done something—we adopted 2 African American children here in the states when they were infants and have encouraged others to do the same. Since our adoption—2 families in our church have also adopted domestically. We provided support, advice and encouragement for them during the adoption process.

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Julie Austin

July 08, 2010  1:32pm

Part 1: Jeff—my husband and my intent in responding to this article is not to discourage international adoption. We have several friends and family members who have adopted internationally and we support them. God does need to guide every family’s decision, and no one child is more valuable over another. Our intent was to bring attention to the great need for Christian domestic adoptions. You stated that at least in the US the children who are not adopted have a chance to be educated and have a future. I’m afraid that is not true for all of them. There are many wonderful foster families in the US and I applaud their work. However, in many large urban areas the foster system is very dysfunctional. I have seen firsthand how children are shipped from one home to the next—sometimes yearly. Many foster children have come from abusive homes and need consistent emotional support and counseling. Sometimes they are placed in abusive foster homes. See Part 2

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ron jones

July 08, 2010  12:19pm

Jeff why are you switching her words around ,she said "why cant Christians help families in 3rd world countries take care of their children instead of taking the children for themselves" why dont they adopt the whole family? ,taking an infant from its homeland christian? so dont twist things.its bettr to be an orphan in the us tell the baby that.why arent there ministries bent on keepin families together .for the cost of one adoption 10 children can be put with there families.its not about helping children its about making themselves feel bettr.and saying look at me look how good i am i took in this poor child .but it is to fill a void in there own lives ..daoption is good depending who is adopting.

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Elizabeth N.

July 08, 2010  9:32am

This was a great article on adoption that truly spoke to our hearts, as my husband is an adoptee and we are currently adopting internationally.  To the person asking what Christians are doing for families in Third World countries, I strongly encourage you to check out World Vision, a Christian relief organization. There are some YouTube videos that also highlight their work. I also recommend the documentary "Lord, Save Us From Your Followers" which highlights a lot of the relief efforts being done by Christian families in the US and internationally.  We sponsor a child through World Vision and look forward to continuing our support of  the orphanage our child will be coming from, even after the adoption is complete.  We loved the article, Russell. Blessings to you and your family!

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Mara Rigge

July 08, 2010  9:15am

Jeff...90% of children who are labeled "orphans" have at least one living parent who cannot take care of him/her. So, your orphans stats are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay off. Why can't Christians help families in 3rd world countries take care of their children instead of taking the children for themselves? Do tell ME what to do and what God has led me to do. You don't know me and you have no idea what I do. Save your condescending lectures for your "forever family".

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Jeff F

July 07, 2010  5:17pm

It's amazing to me how people read this article and then have comments like - why do Christians adopt international- is a baby in the Sudan less valuable than a baby in the US? Is a 10 year old from the Ukraine less valuable than one in the US? God didn't say to just help Orphans only in the US? compare 100,000 orphans in US with 700,000 in Russia alone. You have to pray and find where God calls you.. the fact is orphans in most countries outside of the US face almost certain human trafficking, crime, prostitution, etc. Being a orphan is not the best any where but at least in the US they have hope of education and a future. I find those that do nothing are the first to criticize.. how about you start a orphan ministry in your church that reaches out to your own community... oh wait that would require you to do something beside post on the internet.

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Dania from Houston, TX

July 07, 2010  9:37am

I was adopted by my maternal grandmother when I was a three month old baby. My biological mother used to hit her baby bump in an effort to abort me. My Christian grandmother started protecting me and loving me even before I was born. No greater reflection of God's love have I ever witnessed! She had adopted one baby before me and continue to adopt moore after me. She was there to love and protect those children whose biological parents didn't love at all. She wasn't doing any business with the multiple adoptions. The Nicaraguan government (where we are from) wasn't helping her in any way. Financially, more than her work as a seamstress, her faith in God sustained us all. I am forever thankful to God for giving me the oportunity to experience first class Love from my adoptive Mommy. As soon as God provides a husband and finances I want to adopt a baby of my own. I have so much love to give. I can't contain it!

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Mara Rigge

July 07, 2010  8:39am

So, Gert...Since 90% of "orphans" really aren't orphans and have at least one living parent, does "Bethany House" help reunite "orphans" with their parents or are these children sold overseas to middle-class Americans? I'd like to see how much MONEY has flowed through Bethany House's coffers.

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Gert J Jonker

July 07, 2010  2:15am

Great account of the journey of adoption, from a theological perspective to practise. Bethany House - the organisation i founded with my wife 12 years ago in South Africa - not only cares for "orphans" in a residential care setting, but we actively engage with families to foster / adopt. Most of the almost 500 kids we cared for since has been placed back into loving and Godly families!

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