On Kathryn Joyce writing on orphans!! for the Nation

Please–give me a break!!

When I look at The Nation, I remember how much I (in general) like it–informative on economic policy, progressive, original….But please….The Kathryn Joyce piece on international adoption (April 21, 2011) is unforgivable!


In “The Evangelical Adoption Crusade” Joyce seeks to associate international adoption with a radical Christian right plot to steal the children of the developing world from their rightful homes……Her piece is so profoundly flawed, so dismissive of the facts, that it is hard to know where to begin. Her analysis of the work of Craig Juntenen (whom she calls a “somewhat rogue” figure) is completely unfair!

While seemingly “progressive”, Joyce attempts to taint international adoption as a whole by linking it with a scary subculture of orphan-obsessed evangelicals. She provides no investigative data on the actual lives of children living out of family care around the world; she completely misreads the UNICEF perspective on international adoption; she uses a couple of anecdotes about particular people in the Christian orphan advocacy movement to stereotype and demean the motives of a vast array of social orphan advocates……

She can write what she likes, of course–but can’t The Nation do a better job than this? Isn’t the progressive case for adoption perfectly clear?

I will have more to write on this shortly….Suffice it to say here that by putting the “orphan crisis” in inverted commas, Joyce lets us know that she does not see one……Unlike Juntenen, I doubt Joyce has travelled anywhere to actually see children living out of parental care with her own eyes. They are there by the hundreds of thousands, they are too often facing very bleak futures filled with exploitation……What is Joyce’s “context”? Where does she derive her baseline information from?  For too many progressive writers, the international adoption story is simply an extension of other aspects of the culture wars…

Time for a major rethink on this!


3 thoughts on “On Kathryn Joyce writing on orphans!! for the Nation

  1. Agreed! Christians and non-Christians have been instrumental in raising world consciousness about the orphan crisis, opening shelters, supporting orphan aid and education, and adopting. Many are motivated by their spiritual beliefs. Why criticize? Craig Juntunen is combating misinformation propogated by UNICEF and others to derail international adoption. His dedication is inspiring.

  2. I literally just found your blog and hope it’s OK to add a few thoughts to this post.

    I read Kathryn Joyce’s from the perspective of someone who is extremely concerned about the Christian adoption movement, primarily because I believe it feeds into attitudes toward adoption that lead to practices which pay attention to the front end of the process, the act of adopting, but ignore the very real repercussions for adoptees, parents who surrender, and adoptive parents. I am also the adoptive parent of two young Korean American adults.

    Joyce wasn’t writing about the orphan crisis, she was writing about this particular movement to address it. No one concerned about children living without families should be expected to embrace every approach to resolving this important global issue. Joyce was raising her concerns about one movement that appears to be on a track of its own, fueled by faulty theology and focused on the act of adopting as a religious obligation, rather than the serious decision to parent in a way that it very different from parenting a child born to you.

    If the Christian adoption movement, largely a U.S. phenomenon, gave some air time to adoption injustices right here, like the closure of adoptee access to their original birth certificate, I would have more confidence in this approach.

    Instead, I have seen responses to Joyce’s article like this, from a comment on a rebuttal by Jedd Medefind on “ChristianityToday”:

    “Leave the kids there so that they can be indotrinated into Islam and learn hate for non-Muslims and for their own kind too who don’t agree with them, and in the states, leave the kids for the homosexuals to adopt so they can be indoctrinated into any sex is okay, but morals and ethics and Jesus are not okay.”

    I believe, like you do, that children deserve families. I do not believe, however, that every avenue to family is acceptable. Thanks for letting me share my point of view.

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