“Child Catchers” Author in NY Times Opinion…and Response

Amidst our deeply polarized era, it’s refreshing to see how often orphan care and adoption transcend traditional divides.  The new CHIFF legislation, for example, has drawn together a bi-partisan group of Senators one might never see pairing up on any other issue.

Sadly, a minority of voices on the political Left seem more concerned that evangelicals are among those leading the charge for orphan care than about the fact that children face the world without families.

That’s a mistake on so many levels.  Most people of goodwill can find common ground on at least a few essentials here:  that it’s tragic that millions of children today face the world without families, and that we need to do more—not less—to help them find loving homes.

The New York Times this weekend published another hard-hitting opinion editorial from the author of The Child Catchers, Kathryn Joyce, titled “The Evangelical Orphan Boom.”  Although a bit more nuanced than the book, this article again tried to force orphan care into “culture war” boxes.

I had the chance to provide a succinct response via a Letter to the NY Times Editor, below and here.  (If you’re interested in an in-depth response, read “A Frank Analysis of the Child Catchers.”

To the Editor:

“The Evangelical Orphan Boom,” by Kathryn Joyce (Sunday Review, Sept. 22) offered important cautions for those seeking to care for orphans but ultimately obscured the most important truth of all. Indeed, as the essay argued, international adoption carries real risk of moral hazard and unintended consequences. This is true of any effort to address deep human need and demands great discernment and care.

The growth in action by Christians to aid orphans amplifies these hazards. Whenever efforts to aid the destitute increase, both positive and flawed outcomes tend to increase also.

But these important truths must never obscure the reality that  millions of children today live without the love and protection of a family. Many can be reunited with relatives. Others can find other welcoming homes nearby. And for some, the only hope of a permanent family lies with foreign adoption.

Today’s Christian engagement in orphan care includes all of these priorities. Caution and critiques are necessary in any such endeavor. But these actions can also serve as a rallying cry to all people of good will, reminding us that complexity must never become an excuse for inaction.


President, Christian Alliance for Orphans

I’d also commend a compelling blog post by a Katherine Jay, a Jewish lawyer with a “liberal background.”  Jay defends orphan care efforts by Christians and makes incisive suggestions as to how they should effectively respond to unfair attacks.  I wouldn’t agree with Jay on every point, but its very insightful and well worth the read.  The post begins, “A couple months ago, I wrote a post in defense of the evangelical orphan care movement, despite my differing religious affiliation….But after watching the unrelenting media attacks on the orphan care movement, I DO see a problem now. And this is what it is:  You haven’t been fighting back.”

Read the full article, The Delegitimization of Orphan Care.