Over the last few weeks, I went to the Orphan Summit in California and then eventually to Uganda to do research for the book I am writing. In both of these places, I had the opportunity to visit and interview people who are passionate about orphans and adoption in Uganda.
In conversation after conversation, however, I watched these friends who share a burden for orphans and vulnerable families tear each other down. Those of us who are passionate about reforming adoption and orphan care are often critical of one another.
I believe we can be better together.
For those of us who call ourselves Christians, this is especially important. The world is watching. Literally.
This post is not pointed at any one person. I confess that at times, I have been critical and bitter. I have assumed the worst about situations or people. I have not guarded my words carefully enough. I have been judgmental and just plain unkind. I am sorry. This is public repentance. I am asking for forgiveness.
I am hopeful that you will join me in seeking a better way. Let’s consider apologizing to people we may have hurt. If we have concerns about a family, ministry, agency or anyone else involved in adoptions or orphan care in Uganda, let’s bring these to light – but let’s do this with kindness and respect.
Do you know what is crazy? Pretty much everyone I met with over the last few weeks wants the same thing.
We all care about orphans and vulnerable children in Uganda. We all agree that children need families. We’re all passionate about supporting in their families and communities. We all agree that institutions are harmful to children. We all want to see more children adopted by loving families in Uganda. We all believe international adoption is the best choice for children who truly need it.
We may disagree on how to get there, but we’re headed in the same direction. And we are better together.
So why are we treating each other like enemies? We aren’t we working together for reform?
Why aren’t we doing everything we can to support vulnerable mothers and families so that children are not orphaned…
And encourage more Ugandan families to adopt…
And end corrupt adoption practices, such as creating false documents, bribing authorities or “finding” children for adoption in slums or villages…
And make sure no child is placed in an orphanage or for adoption without a careful investigations into what is best for the child…
And make orphanages better for the kids who have no other choice…
And get kids out of orphanages whenever possible…
And encourage the officials, both in the Ugandan government and at the US Embassy, to do their jobs carefully, knowing that these people are responsible for protecting vulnerable children…
And Encourage international adoption for children who cannot be placed domestically.
These things are not in conflict. Children need families. It is unacceptable to take children from poor families and to make them look like orphans because we have what my friend calls “brown-baby-itis”. But it is also unacceptable to deny a true orphan the opportunity to have a family because of a philosophy that international adoption should be the last resort.
Somewhere between these extremes we have a lot of common ground, where we can work together for the good of the children and families in Uganda. Until there are thousands of families in Uganda lining up to adopt, there will be a need for international adoption. This need is primarily for families who can adopt older, HIV positive and special needs children. So let’s do everything we can to support vulnerable families, to encourage domestic adoption and to encourage international adoption.
Let’s stop fighting with one another.
Let’s start fighting together. We are better together!
We can accomplish so much more if we fight together than if we tear one another down. Some of us may be called to adopt. Others to advocate. Some may be called to support vulnerable families. Others to encouraging resettlement. Some to reforming orphanages. Others to encouraging domestic adoption in Uganda. Some to fighting injustice and poverty. Others to providing access to health care. None of us are called to gossip, slander or discord. We are not called to tear one another town. We are all called to tell the truth, but we can do this with wisdom, love, discretion.
This post was originally published on Family Hope Love in May 2012.