Thursday, October 14, 2010

Revisiting The Bible And Adoption

Some time back, I wrote a blog post about what I consider to be the erroneous justification of adoption through the use of scripture. In that post, I cited an excellent article by Rohan McEnor entitled; "Adoption and the Bible: God's Will or God's Swill?" This very scholarly look at the Biblical references often used by the churches, especially those who promote adoption, really throws a lot of the arguments they use by "proof-texting" (taking passages out of context in order to prove some point) into a cocked hat.

I wanted to publish this section, in particular:

"Preamble: Some time ago I wrote an article which scrutinised the practice of adoption according to the Ten Commandments. I was consequently accused of blasphemy. However, what was I blaspheming: church practice, the sensibilities of adopters, or the truths of the Bible?

I decided to have a second look, and the result will be a book that has the working title, Father to the Fatherless: what the Bible really says about adoption.

This article will be a very short summary of a couple of the arguments in that book, but even by the end of this truncated study, I trust it will be clear who is blaspheming the clear plan of the Judeo-Christian God who has revealed himself through the Bible.

Adoption defined: For the sake of this article I will define 'adoption' as "the practice of altering the birth certificate and therefore the identity of a child such that a person or persons not biologically related to the child, are recognised as parents of the child. "

A large subset of all adoptions is newborn adoption - the child adopted into a family as close to birth as possible to give the illusion to both those within the adoptive family and outside the adoptive family, that the child is "as if born" to the adoptive couple. Is such a general practice any part of God's will, or is it merely churchian god swill?

Many would say that Moses' life represented such an adoption. Let us look at the life of Moses as a possible example of scripture condoning adoption.

Firstly, what pressure was placed on Moses's biological mother to put Moses on the adoption conveyor belt (the River Nile)?
"Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives... 'When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth... If it is a son, then you shall put it to death... Every son who is born to the Hebrews you are to cast into the Nile. '" (1)

So the pressure placed on Moses's mother was "your son shall die." This is the exact same pressure that is placed on a young mother to relinquish her child in the latter 20th and early 21st centuries. "The baby will have no life. The baby will have only half a life. The baby will be socially handicapped if you keep this child. If you keep this child you are being selfish and not giving your child the best." These sorts of things are said by both social workers and parents of young pregnant women, to persuade them into adoption. In the Bible, these are the words of Pharaoh. Are Christians instructed by the Bible to behave like Pharaoh?

Secondly, how did Moses' mother react? "She saw that he was beautiful and she hid him for three months." (2) So such is the unity between mother and child that she risked the wrath of the Government as long as she could, in order to bond with her child, in order to breast feed and care for her child, in the face of probable death for both herself and her son. Significantly, the child was born of the House of Levi - the House of Priests. Did the High Priests of Adoption respect the natural fusion of mother and her biological child in removing children after just 5 days, granting custody to strangers, then expecting the first-mum to forget it ever happened?

Thirdly, how did Moses' mother effect the adoption? "She put the child into the basket, and set it among the reeds by the banks of the Nile..." (3) On threat of death, she succumbed to the edict of the Government to cast the child into the Nile. But! "And his sister stood at a distance to find out what would happen to the child." (4) In the Bible it seems reasonable. In modern parlance, we call it stalking! When 20th century relinquishers tracked down their child they were punished by court appearances and classed as criminals.

Fourthly, how did the Government of the day react to this act of stalking? "Then his sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, 'Shall I go and call a woman who can suckle the child from among the Hebrews, that she may nurse the child for you?' And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, 'Go ahead.' So the girl went and called the child's mother. Then Pharaoh's daughter said to her, 'Take this child away and nurse him for me and I shall give you wages. '" (5)

The House of Pharaoh sponsored the child to be raised with its kinfolk. In troubled times, the Government of the day, one recognised throughout the Bible as unmercifully cruel, provided social security so that the child could remain in the household of its biological family. In fact, the prospective adopters sponsored the program. What depths of cruelty has 20th century western Government visited, to expect women in troubled times to hand their children over to better-heeled strangers?

Exodus 2 v 10 tells us that when Moses was a child, we are not told exactly how old, he was adopted into Pharaoh's household and Pharaoh's daughter renamed him Moses. Clearly, Moses was not moved to the adopter's household until he had formed a relationship with his mother. The adoption was open. The mother knew the fate of the child and could keep track of his progress. I am not here arguing that scripture condones open adoption as shall be seen as we progress - what I am highlighting is just how different Moses's adoption was to the practices of church-run adoption agencies in the 20th century.

The fifth question to ask is, how did Moses react to his adoption? "When Moses had grown up he went out to his brethren..." (6) The Bible labels Moses's biological relatives "his brethren", not those by whom he had been adopted. This is firmly repeated in the New Testament in Acts Chapter 7.

What was the reaction of "his brethren" to Moses? "Who made you a prince or a judge over us?" (7) Moses has become Mr In-between - just like so many adoptees he feels he doesn't truly fit into his adoptive family, yet is also unacceptable to his biological family because of the influences of the adopters. This is classic adoption syndrome working here. And what happens? Moses commits murder and spends the next forty years wandering around the desert tending sheep, a man of virtually no self esteem. (8) This man of immense talent and intellect, becomes "a sojourner in a foreign land", (9) a cry echoed in the minds and on the faces of most 20th century adoptees.

A final point to make in considering the life of Moses; how impressed was God with the system that created the pressure to adopt?
"Now it came about at midnight that the Lord struck all the first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh who sat on his throne, to the first-born of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the first-born of cattle. And Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where someone was not dead." (10) It is an interesting Bible-study on its own to look at the sacrifice of the first-born.

If we are to use the example of Moses as a Biblical case history to justify adoption, what do we learn? We discover that (a) a woman will surrender a child only on pain of death; (b) it is unreasonable to cut a woman off from knowledge of her child which she loses to adoption; (c) Moses' was an open adoption; (d) upon maturity (ie: the ability to think for himself) Moses turned his back on the wealth and privileges of his adoptive family, to identify with the poverty of his biological kin; (e) even the most harsh of ancient ruling elites appreciated the value of biological ties and provided social security so that the child could at least be weaned, start to develop and form a relationship with its true mother before an open adoption could take place. (11)

While some churchian minds use the adoption of Moses to justify adoption of newborns, how much of the detail of scripture is adhered to by church-run adoption agencies? Even a rudimentary comparison between the Bible and agency practice would indicate that the church has digressed quite a ways from scriptural instruction. "

McEnor goes on to examine the legend of Solomon and the two women, the lineage of Jesus and the, often taken out of context" references made by Paul (a misogynist who came along a good while after Jesus was supposed to have left the earth), in Acts which note that we are "adopted" by God as saved when we accept the offer of salvation AS REASONING ADULTS. Now, Christianity is not my personal belief, but I know the Bible well enough to know when its contents have been tweaked to try to prove a point.

Abraham fathered his own heir, Solomon awarded the infant to the real mother and adoption as it is translated in the Bible doesn't mean the same thing that it means in modern society.

To me, adoption is a corruption of the message of Love and Peace that I was taught in church as a child. It is centered around the needs of adults and based on economics. It's a business and there is nothing of God or Godliness in the bottom line.

That is why I am so concerned and confused at the attitude of the present-day churches. There has to be a bit of the social engineering in there, a way for them to raise more good little church-goers to increase the numbers and the power of the "right kind of people."

The act of taking a child from his/her mother at birth, discarding the mother and creating a legal lie of kinship is not very "Christian" to me. In fact, it is downright inhumane.


Sandy Young said...

Love this!!! The stuff Rohan writes is amazing! I love to read it. And, the part about what God's reaction was to Moses is VERY interesting...a little smiting might just be in order now, too!!!

Von said...

Just read this on Peach's blog too, don't know which of you found it first, but thanks.I've posted a link since it refers to adoption on the big red island, where we seem to be seeing the death of adoption little by little.

Anonymous said...

Googled my name tonight and found this. Thanks guys. There's plenty more where that came from. We are fighting one big fight here Downunder at the moment - our federal givernment and a couple of state governments are trying to sweep us under the carpet.
Thanx for supporting my stuff. Hopefully, there will be more soon.
All for justice and truth (I thought that was the American way - just not in adoption i suppose).
Rohan McEnor.
If you want to read my novel Rebecca's Law go to:
All the best to you with your fight

Robin said...

Thanks to you, Rohan. Your scholarly treatment of this issue is a go-to aid when we face off with the self-righteous about adoption.