Adoption Ethics -- Modeling Hospitable Conversation

This week I shared the lens through which Amber and I view orphan-care. I shared our story, declared our biases. I realize that our thoughts can be polarizing (I've developed thick skin over this fact, see). When we are discussing adoption ethics, there is a tendency to divide along two sides of a hard line–-those who are pro-adoption and those who take a more pro-development, rehabilitative approach. And the fact is, even though some would classify themselves in both camps, there is a tendency to allow the line to act like a high wall, a barrier to productive conversation. The result? We find ourselves at odds with one another and before long the conversation turns base, accusational in nature (sometimes unwittingly).

This week Mike Rusch sent me a note--"the conversation of adoption ethics is going to need a referee." He's felt the sting of bright-line arguments from each camp. His story is not mine to tell, but he has dogs in both sides of the fight. In addition to the note, Mike forwarded a keynote address by Jedd Medifind at Christian Alliance for Orphans. In the address, Medefind touched on the burgeoning conversation relating to adoption ethics, and spoke about how to bridge the gaps in the conversation. Speaking to a decidedly Christian audience, Medifind posited that there should be certain defining characteristics of any discussion of orphan care. He stated (and this is my paraphrase) that all conversations should be couched in Christian love and understanding, said that we should give grace to one another as we attempt to work out the myriad of issues confronting orphan care. He next said that the discussion should be covered in hospitality, that it should be a conversation that gathers all to the table and listens with (see above) love and respect. He realized, of course, that there will be differing opinions, and at times things might get tense. But he concluded that if we move forward with this kind of dialogue, we're more prone to find some appropriate common ground.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to share some things I've learned through careful and studied investigation. Some of the information will be hard to swallow (although not surprising), and some of it will further draw out why Amber and I have chosen a different path than many. But hear me say this: there is room this table for your insights, your constructive criticism, and your story. We may not agree on everything (potentially a whole host of things), but there is room at the table.

It may be difficult to have these conversations on the internet. Often we forget that there are people on the other side of the screen. But I'd like to try and model constructive dialogue here in the coming days. Today, I'd like to practice hospitality.

(And this may go over like a lead balloon, but here goes...)

Tell us: What brought you to the orphan care conversation? How have you engaged it? Have you adopted? Have you been intimately involved in rehabilitative development work? Do you adopt a UNICEF approach to adoption? Do you know about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child? Do you care? Do you see it as helpful? Harmful?

I'd like to give you an opportunity here in this space to practice the art of hospitable discussion. Can you air grievances? Sure. But let's try to model love and respect.

So, if you're willing to engage by answering any of the above questions (or sharing part of your story), use the comment box below.