Tag archives: adoption

The Consequences of Instability: Children and Same-Sex Divorce

by Sharon Barrett

September 24, 2012

In my previous post, I asked this question:

Cohabitation and divorce both have significant negative effects on child well-being. Since marital instability is a commonly reported cause of divorce, should we place even more children at risk by legally redefining marriage to include same-sex partnerships?

The bisexual element in most same-sex households compounds the natural mutability of many same-sex relationships. Such instability is a strong predictor of divorce. Additional unforeseen consequences, however, arise from the unique circumstances that surround the child in a same-sex household.

A child enters a same-sex household via adoption, artificial reproductive technology, or one partners previous heterosexual relationship. When the relationship breaks up, who has a claim to the child: biological parent, donor or surrogate, or adoptive same-sex partner? What about the same-sex partner who never adopted the child because the other biological parent would not release his or her rights or the partners new boyfriend or girlfriend, who is helping raise the child?

While these situations may sound exaggerated or hypothetical, they could become legal reality in Californiaunder the triple-parent bill SB 1476, currently awaiting the stroke of the governors pen. In her article, Why Californias Three-Parent Law Was Inevitable, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse documents the 2011 case that motivated state senator Mark Leno to propose the bill.

Melissa, the mother in In re M.C., was bisexual, like most of the same-sex parents surveyed in 2012s New Family Structures study: in 2008, after becoming pregnant by a man (Jose), she married a woman (Irene) and subsequently gave birth to a daughter (M.C.). When Melissa was sent to prison and Irene hospitalized, Jose requested custody.

Custody was denied, however, because under Californias Uniform Parentage Act the man to whom a mother is married when she gives birth is the childs presumed father. Irene, though not a man, was counted as M.C.s presumed mother despite the fact that she had lived with M.C.s mother for barely a month and had not adopted M.C. Rather than give the child to her father, the court placed M.C. in state custody so that she could be awarded to Irene at a later date.

Even without the problems of cohabitation and divorce, a child being raised by a same-sex couple inevitably has more than two parental entities involved in his or her life. Either they or the courts will determine how they may share access to that child. As Dr. Morse observes,

 

We cannot count on private agreements among the parties to solve all problems and manage all disputes. A subset of these cases is going to end up being settled by the family courts. Therefore, not only does same-sex parenting create an impetus to triple-parenting, it creates an impetus for state involvement in the ongoing management of these complex relationships.

The redefinition of marriage and the redefinition of parenthood that must accompany it creates a legal quagmire. As more disputes like In re M.C. enter the courts, more children are likely to be divorced from their parents and from the natural definition of family.

Orphanology: What Each Family Should Consider About Adoption

by Rob Schwarzwalder

July 13, 2012

Adoption is one of the crying needs not just of our culture but of our world.

Here at home, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2009 there were more than 114,000 children in public foster care alone who needed to become part of a loving family. This number does not include the many thousands of children awaiting adoption through private agencies.

Worldwide, it is estimated that there are 15 million children growing up without either a mother or father.

Christians should have a special place in their hearts for adoption because all who know Christ are themselves adopted into God’s family. Paul the apostle writes that believers have been adopted by God through the Savior (Romans 8:15, 23; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5). The Lord Jesus was Himself raised by an adoptive father.

Last year, FRC was honored to host Ryan Bomberger, himself an adoptee who shared with us his beautiful testimony of love and healing. You can watch it here. Additionally, FRC’s Marriage and Religion Research Institute has shown that “Adoption Works Well.”

Pastor Tony Merida, in his new book Orphanology, describes both the theological foundation for adoption and the way that individuals and churches can be involved embracing little ones who so greatly need a mom and a dad. Pastor Merida is strongly pro-life and is the adoptive dad of five children. His book is a gracious exhortation to Christians to consider how they can partner with precious young lives to create families where affection and hope and security transform not just the lives of children, but of the parents who adopt them.

Pastor Merida is a realist. For that reason, he makes a compelling point about practical aid for children in desperate need:

In many countries, you can’t bring children home. The church should be thinking creatively and intentionally about how to care for these kids in terms of maybe sponsorship, in terms of helping to educate them, in terms of taking the Gospel to them. A big one would be transitional assistance for children who are not adoptable —- how can we get them jobs, how can we get them into society and help them have a successful life? Churches could even underwrite an orphanage.

Later in the same interview, he asks a poignant question: “Let’s say Roe v. Wade is overturned and there are more orphans than ever before. Are we willing to pay the price to care for them, to do all that is necessary to provide for them?”

That’s a humbling question, and one all Christians should ponder —- even as, at the same time, we do all we can to end the horror of abortion itself.

A Pro-Life Hero: Minka Disbrow

by Family Research Council

January 4, 2012

As we officially begin the 2012 Sanctity of Life Month this January, the Associated Press is reporting an amazing adoption story, “Mom reunites with daughter 77 years later.”

In 1928, as a young and innocent teenager, Minka Disbrow lived in South Dakota and worked on a dairy farm. One day while enjoying a picnic, Minka and a friend were jumped by three men and raped. Innocent to the degree that she didn’t comprehend how babies were created, months later the 17-year-old Minka was confused and surprised to find her body changing and growing. Her parents soon found an adoption agency.

I loved that baby so much. I wanted what was best,” Disbrow said. “She never met [the adoptive parents] or knew their names. But over the years, Disbrow wrote dozens of letters to the adoption agency to find out how her daughter was faring. The agency replied faithfully with updates until there was a change in management, and they eventually lost touch. Disbrow’s life went on … Every year, she thought about Betty Jane on her May 22 birthday.”

Years later she would find herself frequently wondering about her daughter. “For most of her 100 years, Minka Disbrow tried to find out what became of the precious baby girl she gave up for adoption after being raped as a teen. She hoped, but never imagined, she’d see her Betty Jane again.” In 2006, Minka Disbrow and her daughter, Ruth Lee had a very joyful reunion seventy-seven years after their separation. Minka learned that she had six grandchildren, including a veteran astronaut, Mark Lee.

In a similar story, Ryan Bomberger, of the Radiance Foundation was conceived in an act rape. Like Minka, Ryan’s mother chose to carry her child to term. Ryan now dedicates his life to promoting and protecting the dignity of every person. For a recent lecture by Ryan on the hope and joy of adoption click here.

All can agree that rape is a horrific act of violence that no one should ever undergo. But abortion after a rape robs an innocent victim of a very beautiful life.

Start a Church Adoption Fund

by Rob Schwarzwalder

November 9, 2011

November is National Adoption Month, which is why FRC today was proud to host Ryan Bomberger for his lecture, “Adoption: Be the Hope.” Ryan was himself adopted and, with his wife, has adopted two children. You can watch his moving presentation here. To learn about the pro-life, pro-adoption ministry of Ryan’s Radiance Foundation, go to www.theradiancefoundation.org.

One of the most daunting obstacles to adoption is its up-front cost, which can be as much as $40,000 per child. Although the federal adoption tax credit is very helpful, it does not cover what can be, for families of ordinary means, a great financial challenge.

It’s for that reason that the adoption ministry Lifesong (a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability) has set-up a program to help churches develop adoption funds. An adoption fund is a designated line-item in a church’s budget that helps church members pay for their adoption costs, either through a direct financial gift or low-or no-interest loan. As the beneficiaries of one such fund, my wife and I are eternally grateful for the generosity and selflessness of God’s people in helping us adopt our three children.

This creative ministry is designed to fulfill one of the greatest elements of the Gospel — to love those in need for the sake of, and in the power of, Jesus Christ. No one better fits that description than orphaned children who need a loving Christian home. Lifesong provides a great way of meeting a great need.

To learn more about adoption and related ministries, go to FRC’s www.RealCompassion.org, through which you can link to many organizations helping children at home and abroad.

Steve Jobs the Unwanted

by Cathy Ruse

November 3, 2011

Joan Desmond has written a nice review of the new Steve Jobs biography in the National Catholic Register:

In it she recounts Jobs gratitude to his biological mother for not choosing abortion:

[Biographer Walter] Isaacson traces Jobs effort to find his biological mother, a Midwestern graduate student raised in a Catholic family. I wanted to meet my biological mother mostly to see if she was okay and to thank her, because Im glad I didnt end up as an abortion. She was 23 and went through a lot to have me, Jobs told his biographer.

Apparently Jobs biological mother sought to secure his future well-being by insisting that a college-educated couple adopt her son. Instead, recounts Desmond, two high-school dropouts provided a loving and secure home and a garage where Jobs watched his father fix things and make them work. Meanwhile, the well-credentialed biological father left his children in the lurch.

This last point presents a major theme of the biographer: that the circumstances of Steve Jobs birth to unmarried parents and adoption as an infant left him with deep abandonment issues that impacted the rest of his life. But so, too, is there healing and redemption through love the love of his adoptive parents, the experience of loving his own children, and the love between Jobs and his sister, Mona Simpson, whom he didnt meet until they were both adults:

After his death, Simpson offered a eulogy that reflected on the emotional scars inflicted by their biological father and the healing power of her brothers love. Even as a feminist, my whole life Id been waiting for a man to love, who could love me. For decades, Id thought that man would be my father. When I was 25, I met that man, and he was my brother, said Simpson.

One incident Desmond highlights gives testimony to Jobs determination to be a very present father to his own children, despite all of the money and fame:

Theres a wonderful scene in the biography when Bill Gates comes to pay his respects to his old nemesis. While Gates lives in a house that rivals the square footage of Versailles, Jobs consciously chose to reside in a comparatively modest residence that functioned without live-in staff or a security detail. The Jobs family gathered every night at the kitchen table for dinner. When Gates checks out Jobs home, he asks in wonderment, Do you all live here?

How wonderful, that part of the legacy of this American genius is the potential greatness of every unwanted child and the enormous significance of fatherhood.

Illinois Foster Care System: Leaving No Good Deed Unpunished

by Family Research Council

July 29, 2011

As someone whose extended family has been significantly impacted by the foster care system, this story out of Illinois was of interest to me personally—but the implications for the over 2,000 children involved and for Christians are profound.

The Chicago Tribune recently reported week that the state of Illinois has acted to sever its longstanding relationship with Catholic Charities. The state has found Catholic Charities and Catholic Social Services to be in non-compliance with the states new law authorizing civil unions. The Trib reports:

In letters sent last week to Catholic Charities in the dioceses of Peoria, Joliet and Springfield and Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said the state could not accept their signed contracts for the 2012 fiscal year.

Each letter said funding was declined because your agency has made it clear that it does not intend to comply with the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, which the state says requires prospective parents in civil unions to be treated the same as married couples.

Illinois civil unions law contains exemptions for those religious bodies that do not want to perform or officiate civil unions. But as weve stated elsewhere, so called religious exemptions are usually just a way of greasing the skids to get controversial legislation passed. The exemptions could be challenged in court or be removed by future legislation. In a classic example of dont believe their talking points, Equality Illinois published this statement about the law on their website under a section titled Religious Freedom prior to its passage:

  • This Act would also not impact faith-based adoption agencies or adoption procedures. The Act does not amend the Adoption Act.

Thankfully the Catholic Charities is not taking this lying down. The three agencies in question have filed suit with the Thomas Moore Law Center against the Illinois attorney general and DCFS. Their request is altogether reasonable:

In the lawsuit, the agencies sought the courts permission to preserve their current policy of granting licenses to married couples and single, non-cohabiting individuals and referring couples in civil unions to other child welfare agencies.

Some readers may remember that in 2006, Catholic Charities of Boston ceased doing adoptions rather than violate their conscience and religious convictions by placing children with homosexual couples. We hope and pray that Catholic Charities in Illinois will receive a better legal outcome.

What is fascinating in this debate is that you have the state claiming that the law requires Catholic Charities give homosexual couples in civil unions equal consideration with married coupleseven though the social science data overwhelming demonstrates that children do best when raised by a married mother and father. A cursory reading of the social science makes it obvious that not all family situations are equal in the benefit they provide to children. (See Dr. Pat Fagans work on the MARRI project here, here and here for starters.). And yet the state demands that adoption and foster care agencies treat different family structures as if they were, in fact, the same.

While Catholic Charities works for the undeniable good of placing children in the best family situations available, the state of Illinois has embraced a social experiment wherein the best interests of children becomes subordinate to special interests of a vocal minority.

Finally, its important to remember why the state is involved in adoption and foster care services in the first place: to serve the best interest of the children under its care, not to bestow parenthood on individuals or couples desirous of the title or affirmation. Its about the children. Or at least it used to be in Illinois. Might one legitimately ask when the state will decide that Christians who disagree with normalizing homosexuality are unfit to serve as adoptive or foster parents?

Christians across our nation have an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ by welcoming children in need into their families. Our friends at Focus on the Family have some great resources and a model in Colorado for making a difference through adoption and foster care.

Abortion, Adoption, and Birthmother Amnesia

by Rob Schwarzwalder

January 4, 2011

On Sunday, the New York Times ran a piece called, “Meet the Twiblings.” It’s an autobiographical account by Melanie Thernstrom about how she and her husband Michael obtained donor eggs from two women and then had them implanted in two different women. Thus, the articles striking subtitle: “How four women (and one man) conspired to make two babies.”

The moral and ethical issues involved in this couple’s decisions are genuine. That two beautiful, God-beloved children resulted from them does not make the path pursued by this couple ethical or wise.

Yet woven into the larger story is one about adoption. Consider just two quotes from the article:

Abortions Affect on Adoption

Quote #1: (I)n the 1970s, there was an abundance of babies in the United States in need of homes, but the widespread use of birth control and abortion, among other factors, has caused the supply of infants available for adoption in the subsequent three decades to plummet to a fraction of what it was then.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that about ten percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 wrestle with infertility. Adoption would be so much more streamlined, less agonizing, less of a desperate quest, if there were more babies to adopt - something that abortion and abortifacient drugs are efficient in preventing.

There are roughly 7.3 million infertile couples in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are about 1.7 million adopted children in our country.

While not every infertile couple wants to adopt, many, perhaps the majority, does, and yet strives to find a child to love, from the county foster care center to nations as obscure as Nepal.

The paradox of Americas unborn, as New York Times columnist Ross Douthat has called it, is this: No life is so desperately sought after, so hungrily desired, so carefully nurtured. And yet no life is so legally unprotected, and so frequently destroyed.

Honoring Birthmothers

Quote #2: You wont have anything in common with the carriers, a director of a Los Angeles agency (which we decided not to work with) insisted dismissively. The gestational carriers at their agency were mainly white, working-class women, often evangelical Christians the kind of girls you went to high school with, he said, managing to give high school an ominous intonation. He waved his hand. You may think you want to stay in touch now, but trust me, once you have your baby, youre barely going to remember her name. I call it surrogacy amnesia.”

Were I to meet this man, I might have difficulty being civil. To catalog the offenses laced like cyanide throughout his comments would be almost too onerous (they include religious bigotry, social snobbery, and elitist pomposity). Yet one phrase - “surrogacy amnesia” - is especially remarkable.

My wife and I remember the biological mothers of our children. We recall their names, their appearance, their stories, the way they sounded. We are grateful to them beyond words or human memory. Our thankfulness to them will remain eternal. This, not some “amnesia,” is the common experience of the adoptive parents we know.

Forgetting about a birthmother might be a form of psychological protection for some adoptive parents who find it too painful to think that their children are not theirs biologically. I cannot cite statistics about how many such persons there are, but would say pretty confidently it is a small number.

This is not to say adoptive parents are preoccupied with thoughts of their childrens birthmothers. But we do not forget them and, in an era of abortion-on-demand, the sacrificial love they have shown.

Here is how one writer describes the journey of a woman who decides to give her child to another family:

Why would a woman make this decision? Sometimes it is because of her religious beliefs, sometimes it is because she recognizes that this child is a unique little person who will never exist again in the history of the human race. Although she is not in the position to raise this child herself, she wants him/her to have the best possible life. She is aware that there are many childless couples who would love to give her baby a home and that they are carefully screened before being approved.

About such women there is no amnesia, only gratitude.

***Dr. Pat Fagan, director of Family Research Councils Marriage and Religion Research Institute, recently authored a new study, Adoption Works Well, which documents how effective adoption is and how it transforms, for the better, the lives of both parents and children. A free download is available here.***

Vigil for Nascent Life: Saturday, Nov. 27th, 2010

by Family Research Council

November 23, 2010

This coming Saturday, November 27th, Christians around the world are invited to pray and fast for the most vulnerable and unprotected members of our culture, the unborn. The sad truth is that for many developing babies, a mother’s womb has become a dangerous place where life is destroyed through the violence of abortion rather than a haven where fragile life is protected, nurtured and loved. After giving thanks for our many blessings this Thanksgiving Thursday, please consider making your Saturday a day of prayer for this intention. Below are a few suggestions for the Vigil for Nascent Life:

Pray for the Defense of the Defenseless From the womb to the tomb (Prov. 24:11-12). Some suggestions include doing a short Bible study with your family about the value of God-given human life; taking some quiet time with God in a chapel or outdoors in His creation; joining together with your congregation for a specific prayer service for the protection of the unborn.

Fast for the Protection of the Unborn If you are able, please fast from one meal or the whole day, or fast from media (TV, internet, phone, radio). Fasting frees our minds of distractions and is a powerful prayer tool to keep us focused.

Stay Informed about Threats to the God-Given Right to Life Sign up for the Washington Update at www.frc.org.

Take Action Make an impact…for Life!

1. Support a Pregnancy Care Center in your area. To find out more about these life-affirming ministries to women who are expecting a child, check out FRCs site: www.apassiontoserve.org.

2. Promote Foster Care and Adoption in your church. Check out www.icareaboutorphans.org, a ministry of Focus on the Family. Other ministries can be found at www.realcompassion.org.

3. Advocate for ethical stem cell research. Embryonic Stem Cell Research (ESCR) not only destroys human life, but it also wastes taxpayer dollars because the result is tumors, but no treatments. Adult Stem Cells offer an ethical and effective alternative. Life-affirming therapies using adult stem cells have already resulted in 73 different treatments in human patients. Visit FRCs dedicated site: www.stemcellresearchfacts.org, for some exciting video stories from real people who have benefited from ethical stem cell research.

The Potential of One Life

by Family Research Council

April 13, 2010

I will never forget my experience visiting an orphanage in Rwanda. Simply put, there were too many babies and not enough adults to adequately care for them. It was a Saturday morning and the babies were lined up in their high chairs all in a row for breakfast. The babies were dirty, crying and hungry. A nun would feed one precious little babe a spoonful and then move on to the next little person. Then she kept moving down the line and then would start again at the beginning. Comparing this (the best the sister could give, without a doubt, given the circumstances) to the care of my beloved nieces and nephews was heartbreaking. I wanted deeply for each of those children to have a home with the love and security they would need for a happy life.

Have you ever considered adoption? Every child is a gift from God. Every person has amazing and unique potential, but they need the love of a mother and father to fully humanly flourish.

If you are at all interested in adoption, I encourage you to learn more. The following websites can help you do just that.

Joseph Was an Adoptive Father

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 23, 2009

The Incarnation was the single most unique event in both global and universal history.

With good reason: The Second Person of the Trinity being born of a virgin, then living a sinless life, dying an atoning death and experiencing a bodily resurrection, are events so astounding as to stagger the imagination. Since they really happened, being humbled and awed by them is altogether fitting.

There are a number of profound and probing stories associated with the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. The annunciation to Mary, the attendance of shepherds, the arrival of gift-bearing Eastern “wise men,” the birth in a manger and so many other incidents provide illumination to the Savior’s coming that more fully explain its unique meaning.

One of those stories is that of Joseph. Described in the Greek New Testament as a “tekton,” or skilled carpenter or stone mason, Joseph’s moral purity, respect for his betrothed and quick obedience to God’s calling provide a compelling description of this extraordinary man.

Yet often overlooked is another facet of Joseph’s life: He was an adoptive father.

We do not know from Scripture what kind of relationship Joseph and Jesus had. Yet we can surmise that God the Father must have prepared Joseph in an exceptional way to serve as an earthly father to His only begotten Son.

Adoptive fathers, and mothers, are still needed. The U.S. Agency for International Development says that in 2010, the number worldwide will be roughly 44 million. In our own country, the estimates of the number of orphans vary widely; according to the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, about 125,000 children and youth in foster care are available for adoption because parental rights have been terminated.

My three children are adopted. They are not my wifes or mine biologically but before God and the law, they are as much ours as if they had been fashioned from our own bodies. We love them with the same depth all parents have for the children born to them.

Adopted children pose no greater or lesser challenges than biological children. Any stereotypes one has about adopted children can be dispelled quickly by the simple realization that concerns about an adopted child can readily be replicated about a biological child. Adopting older children can, of course, present unique challenges, and prayer and counsel should be sought before such an adoption just as they should before any major life decision.

The purpose of this short piece is not to induce guilt in anyone. God might not be calling you or your family to adopt. To suggest otherwise would be pretentious and even cruel. I simply would urge anyone reading this prayerfully to consider if adoption might be something toward which the Lord might be moving you.

The answer might well be no. But asking our heavenly Father for His guidance is always a good thing.

Joseph became the adoptive father of the most exceptional Child ever to live on our planet. May his conduct inspire all of us to consider what God might want us to do with respect to adoption in the New Year.

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