This is how an anti-adoption activist replied to a tweet of mine saying a quarter million children from around the world had become part of American families through international adoption since 1971. I (stupidly) responded, asking if I should have left my daughter in a baby house without enough food. He replied with a link to his website, which was basically pages and pages of reasons why no one should ever, ever, ever adopt any child for any reason whatsoever.
I skimmed through the site, and some of the comments. Adoption was an act of violence, akin to slavery. Adoptive parents were white imperialists, hypocrites … and child traffickers.
This was on a Sunday morning. I cried on the way to church. I cried during worship. I cried after church. I cried all day.
In my eighteen years of being an adoptive parent, I’ve heard a lot of things. I’ve heard that Americans—especially evangelical Christians—rush to war-torn countries in order to scoop up as many babies as possible, laws, regulations, common sense and birth families be damned. That we do this in order to look good to God, our churches and our fellow Christians. That we do this to make baby Christians.
I’ve heard and been called a lot of things.
But I’ve never been called a child trafficker.
Let me be clear: No one knows better than I that adoption starts with a deep and profound loss. It begins with a shattered relationship. The one bond in this world that should be inviolable is destroyed. Adoption involves an agony that I can’t begin to imagine, but the effects of which I live with every day.
Adoption should never have to take place. In a perfect world, every child would live with his mother and father, in a warm house, with enough food, on a planet with no war. But we don’t live in a perfect world. Child are abandoned. And I believe that when that happens, God can place them in other families to show them His love and protection. And even with that pain, I believe—I know—they are happier and healthier in a family, than in a baby house or on a street. You don’t have to agree with me. But I will no longer apologize for or debate my beliefs or actions with anyone.
I am not a child trafficker. You wanna know what real traffickers do?
Real child traffickers steal children and force them to work eighteen hours a day in a brickyard, or making bindis, or belts and handbags. Their “employers” don’t give them enough food, or water, or a way to keep warm.
Real child traffickers promise parents caught in the agonizing position of being unable to feed or educate all their children the “opportunity” for one of their children to have a job as a housekeeper or nanny in a prosperous country. Instead, the child ends up as a slave, their passport confiscated, their family threatened.
Real child traffickers kidnap young girls, rape them and force them to service up to thirty men a night.
Real child traffickers kidnap young boys from their classrooms and force them to carry guns and fight wars they do not understand.
Real child traffickers force girls to marry men three times their age, sometime resulting in their deaths from internal injury.
Real child traffickers are sought and brought to justice by organizations like Justice Ventures International. JVI works with local government officials, police officers, prosecutors and judges, as well as NGO leaders. Their goal is to mobilize and sustain justice by training local officials and leaders. On Saturday, September 10, they are holding their annual 5K Race for Freedom here in the DC area. The goal is to raise $50,000 to help them in their fight against modern day slavery, bonded labor and sex trafficking. And real child traffickers.
I love my children more than they can possibly know, more than they will understand until they are parents themselves. I loved them from the time I got a positive pregnancy test or saw their name on a document—long before I saw or held them in my arms. I live for them. I would die for them.
I am a mom. If you ask my teenagers, I am often embarrassing, I am sometimes annoying, and I have too many rules.
Because I am a mom. But I am not a child trafficker.