Opinion | Family

'Why Don't You Just Adopt?'

The frequent question assumes that adoption is both easy and morally superior.

The detention of U.S. Baptist missionaries who tried to take 33 children out of Haiti after the January 12 earthquake shone a bright light on complex moral questions related to the country's adoption practices. The Wall Street Journal reports that, even before the earthquake, an estimated 400,000 Haitian children lived in some type of orphanage, and only a few thousand were orphans in the traditional sense. One American arrived in Haiti to find that the girl he planned to adopt not only had a living mother, but that her mother actually worked in the girl's orphanage. When the man balked at taking the girl, the mother assured him it was what she wanted for her child. She beamed as her daughter drove away with her adoptive father.

While Haiti's child welfare system seems uniquely overwhelmed, the focus on Haitian adoptions reveals a broader truth: Adoption is not quite the straightforward, ethically superior choice many of us assume it is.

"Why don't you just adopt?" Well-meaning people say ...

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December

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