It’s Good to be Adopted

James Tonkowich | Columnist | Friday, February 28, 2014

It’s Good to be Adopted

Brook is Amy’s third child. All three were born out-of-wedlock, fathered by three different men. Amy is a very troubled woman. On the plus side, all three have been adopted by loving Christian families and for all her problems, Amy did not abort her children. Thanks be to God.

Last week, my wife and I joined Brook’s new family at the courthouse for her official adoption. Some of the children being adopted were teens while others, like Brook, infants. I’m guessing that for a family court judge, no docket beats adoption day. You can taste the love, joy, and hope in the courtroom and every family wants a picture with the judge whose signature makes dreams come true.

But for too many kids, the dreams never come true. A new report by Sarah Torre and Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation entitled, “Adoption, Foster Care, and Conscious Protection” points out that too few children who are eligible for adoption ever find permanent families.

They write that there are approximately 400,000 children in foster care. And each year more than 23,000 “age out” of the system. That is, they turn eighteen “never finding a permanent family placement and entering adulthood alone.”

Those who “age out” are in dire straits. “Without the emotional, relational, and financial support structure of a loving, permanent family,” Torre and Anderson write, “these children are at increased risk for low academic achievement and poverty.” More than that, they are also at increased risk for discipline problems at school, dropping out, unemployment, homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, and prison. Torre and Anderson also note, “According to the National Council for Adoption, the roughly 29,000 teens who aged out of foster care in 2007 will cost over $1 billion per year in average public assistance and support.” That’s $1 billion per year every year.

As Torre and Anderson say at the beginning of their report, public policy should “put the best interests of children first” and “seek to increase the likelihood of adoption by removing barriers to families that are seeking to adopt and providers that are seeking to place children in need of a home.”

While states have their own adoption agencies, private adoption agencies—many of which are faith-based—no only have the expertise to make the process of adoption run smoother, but provide the spiritual and emotional support that large and overburdened state bureaucracies can’t offer. Private agencies also connect prospective parents with expecting birth mothers intent on adoption.

All of which is to say that support for private agencies is in the best interest of children since they increase the likelihood of adoptions.

Yet private faith-based agencies across the country are being threatened and even closed down in the name of sexual and gender diversity and equality.

Catholic Charities in Massachusetts, Washington, DC, and elsewhere, despite years of successful placements, have been force to shut down adoption services because new policies demand that they place children with same-sex couples. Catholic Charities, following the teachings of the Catholic Church, refused in the best interests of children, knowing that children are most likely to thrive with a married mom and dad. But Massachusetts and the District of Columbia would not recognize any religious exceptions to the reigning sexual orthodoxy.

Evangelical Child and Family Agency in Illinois suffered a similar fate when the state demanded they place children with unmarried and cohabitating couples including same-sex couples. Their religious convictions about marriage and the good of children (backed up by mountains of sociological data) were violated in the service of sexual ideology.

Torres and Anderson point out that Congress is even considering bills that would close down adoption agencies nationwide “that believe that children deserve a married mother and father.”

As I read this report, it occurred to me that this is an unambiguous case of sexual ideology gone mad and seeking to trump everything including the wellbeing of our most vulnerable children. State adoption and foster care departments are overburdened and need the help and support they receive from faith-based agencies. But in the name of adult desires, policymakers feel free to trammel religious liberty and put private faith-based adoption agencies out of business. This decreases the likelihood that children will be adopted and thus penalizing them for their entire lives.

The single-mindedness and callousness of gay activists and their supporters in government that is willing to doom children for political gain is breathtaking.

But last week, a very happy judge signed Brook’s paperwork. She now has an earthly family. More important, on Sunday a very happy pastor baptized Brook in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. She now has a heavenly family. Her adoption is complete and it’s good to be adopted.

James Tonkowich is a writer and scholar at The Institute on Religion & Democracy where his focus is the intersection between faith and the public square, where worldview makes all the difference in the world. Jim worked with Chuck Colson, managing his daily BreakPoint radio commentary, founding a magazine, writing, speaking, and developing curriculum including the Centurions Program. He is a regular contributor to and also works with The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, Oxford House Research, and other policy institutes. Learn more about Jim at