How should Christians respond to corruption in international adoption?

Today is the end of our first week of ‪#‎AskBetterQuestions‬. In just a few days, Sara and I will be at CAFO2015. As we prepare for this gathering, we want to engage the families, churches, leaders and influencers who are passionate about adoption and orphan care to stop and ask better questions. We would love for you to join in the conversation!


I remember sitting in a church service not long before we started our adoption process. The guest speaker was describing his family’s journey into adoption, telling a story of how they went to an Eastern European country with “over $10,000 of cash” taped to their bodies to pay the bribes. He beamed with pride at the lengths he was willing to go for the child. I too was caught up in the adventure. Wouldn’t it be exciting to risk so much to rescue a child?

Years later, I cringe at the thought. I’ve learned so much now about the depth of corruption in many of the places where children are available for adoption. And I’ve seen the very real destruction suffered by people on all sides of international adoption as a result of turning a blind eye.

Corruption appears in many forms – from simple small bribes to expedite paperwork, to exorbitant legal fees, to adoption agencies covering up the truth, to stealing children from birth families. Countries that become targets for international adoption are rarely democratically stable or economically flourishing. Thus, it’s nearly impossible to avoid corruption.

But we want to encourage adoption of vulnerable children. We don’t want to see international adoption end as we believe that it’s part of God’s redemptive plan. So how do we as God’s people respond to corruption and fight against it?

Here are three ways we can start to fight back:

1. Admit our sin. Adoption is a holy calling, a creation of God to provide families for children separated from their biological families. But not every decision that we make in the process is holy. The Bible teaches us that we are sinners and that nothing this side of heaven is pure and righteous. We must continually check ourselves and admit that our decision-making process is clouded by sin.

2. Refuse to be passive. We must ask better questions and refuse to ignore warning signs. We have to take responsibility not just for the children we adopt, but also for the process by which they are adopted. Removing a child from his home culture and country and placing her in a new family is an extremely significant and traumatic act. We want to stand before our children and say that we did everything in our power to ensure that adoption was the right solution. We can’t do that if we don’t take an active role in the process.

3. Follow the law. This one may seem obvious, but unfortunately, it’s all too easy to ignore the law when emotions are at play. We may not always agree with the laws in place. They may be unfair or unjust, but breaking the law encourages bad actors, puts families and children at risk, and can lead to other unethical actions.

Ready to #AskBetterQuestions?

How have you seen others respond to corruption in international adoption? We would love for you to join in the conversation by leaving a comment or by tagging your posts with #AskBetterQuestions on Instagram or Twitter. You can discover more of the questions we’re asking here!

In Defense of the Fatherless is the conversation I would love to have with a friend who is learning about the orphan crisis or considering supporting an orphanage. In the book, Sara and I share the stories of families who have challenged corruption in their adoptions.

In Defense of the Fatherless is designed to take you on a journey through the Bible to understand God’s heart for orphans and widows – and how you are called to respond. Learn more about In Defense of the Fatherless or read what experts have to say. If you are ready for a deeper conversation, In Defense of the Fatherless is now available on Amazon or at a bookstore near you.

Amanda Bennett

AMANDA BENNETT is a lawyer wife, mother, and advocate for vulnerable families and children. She serves on the board of directors for Reeds of Hope, a non-profit serving vulnerable families and children in DRC. Amanda lives in Kigali, Rwanda with her husband, Bill, and son.

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