Reuter’s recently released a series of “investigative reports” on the deeply painful dilemma of adoption disruption. The series explored the “re-homing” that sometimes takes place when an adoption fails, as desperate families seek a new placement for the child they adopted.
These situations can be as difficult and complex as virtually any human dilemma. But that is no reason to keep them in the shadows. On the contrary, the complexity demands clear-eyed awareness, frank discussion and a fierce grip on both honesty and grace.
Individuals aware of the particular situations that Reuter’s spotlighted have reported that Reuter’s journalism was inaccurate and hurtful at times. But whether or not the reports lacked integrity, they highlighted an issue that deserves much more attention than it currently receives. Wise and godly people may come to sharply differing conclusions on certain aspects of disruption, but we should all agree that this is a real and severe issue for every family that faces it. We can also affirm unequivocally that both church communities and professionals must play a far more significant role in addressing the underlying issues.
As a caveat, it is true that these tragic stories represent a small fraction of all adoption. Reuter’s identified 183 children who were offered for “re-homing” over a five-year period. By way of context, 183 is .08% of the 235,000 children adopted internationally since 1999. Ten times that percentage of children living in their biological families in America were involved in incidents of abuse in 2011 alone. (According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 843 per every 100,000 children, or .8%).
Yet even if a relatively small fraction of all adoptions, the deep anguish of adoption disruption remains. The problem is real, and anecdotal evidence suggests that it is growing as more families adopt children with more complex needs.
The bottom line is this: the Church can and must do a better job preparing families for difficult adoptions. We must also be willing to sacrificially give, love and serve alongside those families that face great struggles as they seek to love children from difficult places.
If you’re interested in reading the Reuter’s stories, you can access them HERE.
Several organizations and individuals have put forward thoughtful analyses of the Reuter’s stories—including both affirmation of problems highlighted by the reports and proposed means of addressing them. These include:
- Hope for Orphans’ opinion editorial in The Christian Post: Adoptive Families in Crisis: Exchanging the Sensational for the Reality
- New York Times: “Are Adoptive Parents Who Give Up on Their Children Uncaring or Unprepared?”
- North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC)
- National Council for Adoption (NCFA)