Journalist and Religion Dispatches associate editor Joyce (Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement, 2009) broadens the understanding of adoption's conundrums, not only within the United States, but also internationally, with deep investigations of children from Liberia, Ethiopia, Korea, Rwanda, Haiti and China.
Perhaps the least publicized development within the adoption realm during the past few decades is the aggressive involvement of evangelical churches. Parishioners, even those with multiple biological children, are adopting orphans from overseas, as well as many children who have been wrenched from biological mothers (and sometimes fathers) as part of for-profit schemes. Some of the church members see adoption as a faith-based mission—as an alternative to abortion but also part of a biblical mandate to care for the oppressed and impoverished while simultaneously saving souls. Joyce explains that although such adoptions might seem like a win-win solution, in fact, birth mothers and families, especially in third-world countries, are torn apart by the international transactions. Joyce studied academic treatises and traveled widely across the U.S. and to locales in other nations rarely visited by tourists. The number of compelling anecdotes and case studies is impressive. Whenever ethically defensible, Joyce uses real names and normally indicates fictitious names when she saw no moral alternative. Although the overall picture is grim despite tsunamis of good intentions, the grimness is occasionally relieved by righteous individuals and institutions trying to do better. One of the relatively upbeat case studies focuses on the megachurch of celebrity pastor Rick Warren. He admits his evangelical members involved in international adoptions have not always proceeded perfectly, but Joyce suggests that he is sincere about learning from mistakes in a drastically shifting landscape.
Groundbreaking investigative and explanatory reporting.