adoptee · Educational · family preservation · international adoption · justice · orphan · reform · smolin · Uncategorized

Adoption: Absolute or Relative Good?

Miriam James

Excerpt from David Smolin, adoptive parent and professor of law:

“The adoption movement, Christian and non-Christian alike, has treated adoption as an absolute good…From these perspectives, religious and secular, have developed a strong propensity to treat any criticism of adoption as evil. It is as though there are only two positions, for and against, and any criticism places one in the evil “against” position. For the Christian adoption movement, it is as though criticisms of adoption….constitute a rejection of the foundational Christian gospel message.

Unfortunately, this perspective renders the adoption movement as astonishingly uncritical. Any activity or movement unable to be self-critical inevitably becomes destructive and blind to its own errors.

Viewed correctly, horizontal adoption is a relative good. Every adoption involves a profound loss for the child and the child’s original family. Sometimes the good done by adoption outweighs the loss; sometimes it does not. Understanding adoption as a relative good reminds us that it can be done ethically or unethically, and thus can constitute, depending on the manner in which it is done, either a good or an evil. Being aware of adoption as a relative, rather than absolute, good allows one to accept the extensive evidence that adoption has often been practiced in deeply exploitative and unethical ways.

Being aware of this history reminds us that there are often other interests involved in adoption besides a pure humanitarian or gospel impulse, such as the desire of intermediaries for monetary compensation, and the desire of the infertile for children. There is, of course, nothing wrong with the desire of the infertile for children, and monetary compensation and profit in a capitalist society are lawful motivations; such impulses, however, are necessarily subject to ethical and legal limits, particularly when the means of satisfying them is to obtain someone else’s children.” – David Smolin


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