Adoption in a Global Context

Those seeking to adopt a child are faced with many challenges and concerns about the high costs of adoption, international laws and restrictions, interracial or intercultural differences, the availability of licensed agencies, and the long waiting times for processing adoptions.

International adoptions have increased dramatically in recent years. In some cases, this has created a lucrative multi-million dollar a year market in the business of "baby selling." High costs of international adoption call into question issues of stewardship while making it cost-prohibitive for families with moderate or low incomes. An international adoption may give a child a new opportunity to live a more abundant life with greater opportunities. However, removing children from their native land can have dire consequences, either because of unresolved prejudices held by the adoptive parents or because the children are unable to adjust emotionally or socially to their new homes. Neither is intercountry adoption a solution to the problems of high birth rates or poverty in the countries of origin. Countries where babies are being considered for adoption are concerned whether they may suffer a "brain drain" since typically only healthy babies, without disabilities or birth defects, are chosen by adoptive parents.

While some may pursue the adoption of children from other countries, many thousands of children in the foster care system wait in vain for families to adopt them. Adoption advocates point out that children who are under care in the foster care system are viewed as "less desirable" by potential adoptive parents, because these children may come from difficult or painful families of origin or may have been harmed by years in successive and less-than-ideal placements. A form of "ageism" prevails in the adoption process, both in the selection of parents and the placement of children.

Cross-racial adoption also presents many challenges. There are divisions over the "correctness" of interracial or cross-cultural adoption. Too often interracial adoption is based on economic class differences, or ability to provide for the child s needs. A family becomes a biracial or multicultural family when they adopt a child of a different race or culture than their own and, therefore, should be sensitive to the societal impact of racism or xenophobia upon the child. Adoptive parents should not neglect the history and heritage of the child s family of origin (if known) and should affirm racial ancestry and culture. Studies have shown that children from ethnic backgrounds different from their parents grow up with a stronger sense of identity and self-esteem if their birth ethnicity has been positively communicated within the family. Great sensitivity also needs to be expressed with regard to the intricacies of the social welfare system and the impact that adoption may have on Native Americans and other ethnic minorities.

Complex social problems which severely impact children, including racism, poverty, alcoholism, and family violence, need other approaches in addition to foster care and adoption.

In a time when many parents are seeking to adopt children, and when many children are needing a loving, caring family, The United Methodist Church affirms adoption as a means to create and strengthen families. Given the multiple challenges posed by adoption, we call upon all United Methodists, local churches, annual conferences, and general agencies to:

  • encourage adoptive parents to respect and affirm the cultural and racial background of the adopted child;
  • make adoption more affordable by supporting increased financial assistance to middle- and low-income families considering adoption;
  • support regulations and policies that enable more qualified foster care families and qualified extended family members to more easily adopt children in their care;
  • promote conditions which would make adoption unnecessary by supporting programs which will improve the living conditions of children in their families, their communities and their countries of origin; and provide access to counseling services for adoptive parents;
  • in cases where information and contact is desirable for the well-being of the child, work through recognized organizations to make contact between adoptive and birth families; and
  • encourage those entering into the adoption process to work only with licensed adoption agencies.

ADOPTED 2000

See Social Principles, 161K.

From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church 2004. Copyright 2004 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.



LINK: UMCOM.org, United Methodist CommunicationsUMC.org is the official online ministry of The United Methodist Church.
© 2014 United Methodist Communications