Saturday 31 October 2015

Adoption Sunday


I wholeheartedly believe that the Church has within it's DNA the mandate to care for children and young people in the looked after system as well as those on the fringes those going into the system and leaving. Not exclusively of course but within the context of all the other 'stuff' we should be up to, we've even got a bible verse for it. However, and it's a big however, I'm also aware that we have totally screwed this up. I choose my words carefully, but I look back and within living memory I see that the church's actions reflect a complicated history, yes meeting a need but also perpetuating that need through moral policing. As late as 1970 the church was complicit in sending British 'orphans' to the far side of the world. Other actions have taken place and having watched Philomena recently I am  shamed at what was done in God's name, children removed from parents in the name of I don't know what. That legacy remains very much alive.

The biblical adoption narrative and stories in the bible feel, to me at least, as almost irrelevant to contemporary adoption. The systems and legal routes that we have built are not relevant to that narrative. Of course we are called to love and accept children but there was no Social Worker for Moses or Jesus adoption stories. When I see the adverts in my twitter feed for Adoption Sunday I get nervous. Nervous as for every child that 'needs' adoption there is a family that probably want their child back. I'm under no illusion that unspeakable acts are committed and some parents cannot and don't want to care for their children. But the context of adoption is shifting before our very eyes and that picture is ever more complex with less support for families, injustice and wrong decisions remain a possibility. The church's mandate is to protect and support the vulnerable  regardless of where they find themselves and with at least 30% of mothers with children in care system living with mental ill health it's time that the church made amends to the families that lost their children.

What am I proposing? Do we need to repent? Is that enough? I don't know, I'm just making this up as I go.

But on this Adoption Sunday my mind is with my children's 'other' family members, grandparents that never saw grandchildren again, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters that lost their children. Morally and ethically complex, murky situations, they challenge my notions of forgiveness, redemption and who is right or wrong. I can't help but consider how they may feel on Adoption Sunday.
For the first time since records began we have more adopters approved than children waiting to adopt (that's another blog). So where do we look this adoption Sunday? Of course we pray for the children, but what else do we pray?


  1. As an approved adopter waiting for our children to be matched with us I am with you wholeheartedly. As a Christian and also a human I struggle with the reactions we get from people as we tell them we are adopting. The 'excitement' for us has a flip side for the birth families for our children. We know what it's like to lose a child it sucks so bad and so I can't share in the happiness people feel for us as our gain is the most devastating loss for another family. I can't help but feel what we are doing isn't enough to heal the mess this world is in. Yes we hopefully are stopping the cycle of destruction for these children but what for those left behind?
    And on the final point about there being more adopters than children available for adoption, although mathematically true the 'harder to place' children have that label for a reason. Quite simply the problem isn't resolved by the amount of people approved to adopt as many of them don't have the experience, training or even willingness to take those children who are left behind because of their age or needs. The problem simply isn't solved by getting more adopters it needs a special kind of person to come forward and give these lives the future they need. The work of Home for Good is a step in the right direction but I personally think the government need to step up and make life easier and provide even better training (and I actually think our training has been fab) for those people to be willing to step up and rescue those children. I know if I could do more I would but soon our house will be full to the brim!

    1. It's good to hear that your house will soon be up up to the brim. The challenges that are facing adoption are complex and multifaceted. Increasingly I believe that the model of adoption that we have is not sustainable for the future and a 'third way' needs to be found. better support, open communication with family and a skilled workforce and adopters.I'm fortunate to rub shoulders with lots of influential folks and their views and perspectives inform my stance. That the issue is on the churches agenda is excellent and a lot of this can be attributed to Home4Good. Is there a way to go, yes. A nuanced perspective around human rights and birth family are looming in the national debate, the church should lead that discussion in light of our part in the past. I have so much more I could say and I had to be edited by Mrs C else I'd have kicked a hornet's nest. Thanks for commenting.