Where Your Treasure Is . . .

I think it’s a shame that more people don’t read their Bibles for comprehension, but instead either do not read them at all, or (worse) read them with prejudiced ideas, probably fed to them from the pulpits of their churches. The Bible is full of good adoption stuff, stuff about reliable love and trustworthy relationships, stuff that will stand falsehood on its ear and show the devil the door. Here, for example, is one of my favorite passages from Proverbs 30:

The leech has two daughters,
“Give,” “Give.”
There are three things that will not be satisfied,
Four that will not say, “Enough”:
Sheol, and the barren womb,
Earth that is never satisfied with water,
And fire that never says, “Enough.”
Proverbs 30:15-16

Here we have, in two short verses, a summation of pretty much every unhappy thing that can (and should) be said about what motivates healthy infant adoption as we have practiced it for the past two or three generations in the western world. It begins with the energy of the leech, demanding, “give, give,” and we have the barren womb that is never satisified, no more than hell or earth or fire.

The High Cost of Infertility

The leech has two daughters, “give, give.” For those who aren’t familiar with the healthy infant adoption world, it is predicated upon giving. One has, usually, a couple unable to have children who decide to adopt after much expensive medical intervention; they want someone to give them a baby.

To put “expensive” in perspective, an in-vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle costs $10,000 to $15,000 these days, with an average of at least three cycles needed to help the average, healthy woman under age 40 conceive and making the average cost of a successful IVF birth about $35,000.  The success rate for a woman under age 35 can approach 50% at some clinics; this rate drops to 40% in women ages 35-37 and to a mere 20% success rate in women over 40 who have delayed childbearing. These costs do not include the cost of medical treatment undertaken beforeIVF is used, if it is used at all.

Medical and other treatments for infertility require large expenditures of money, time, effort and emotion. Often times, the suffering of women unable to have babies is overlooked in the adoption world, where they like to blame women they paint as greedy wenches for driving the healthy infant adoption industry. Such blame seems to make the mothers who lose their children to adoption feel better about having let their babies go in the first place, something I’ll get to later, for it’s a large topic. But I should mention that another giver in the healthy infant adoption realm are the birth parents of the baby. Usually behind them are their own families, closest friends, a social worker and an attorney of some kind, demanding, “give, give.”

I’m not sure how birth parents and adoptees can be so callous when they themselves demand compassion and understanding for their own suffering; it’s impossible for me to hear the suffering of a childless woman, or to read infertility blogs or forums without feeling compassion for the women struggling with their longing to have a child or children.  And secondary infertility–infertility after the birth of one’s first child–has just as large an emotional impact as primary infertility.  Solomon, who seemed to know a lot about real mothers, wrote that the womb cries out for satisfaction. Biblically speaking, at least, infertility creates a void that “is never satisfied.”

Many people who can’t conceive or carry a healthy child to term turn to adoption to fix the problem of childlessness; we all know this. Although the barren womb may never be satisfied, and the adoptive family involves losses for everyone (birth family, adoptive family, and adopted person), the original problem of childlessness is fixed–but a whole new realm of suffering has been created by the separation of mother and baby.

Yearning for the Lost Child

Is it any wonder that the mother who does, impossibly, give her baby away to others to raise, later finds herself lost and feeling crazy? This anguish is described in Deuteronomy 28:32, “Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes shall look on and yearn for them continually, but there shall be nothing you can do.”

In either case–the case of wanting children and not being able to have them, or the case of having a child and giving her up for adoption–the loss is devastating. Neither the barren womb nor the bereaved mother can be satisfied.

And, stuck between two women who are, presumably, adults with options, we have a helpless infant or child who cannot care for himself, protect himself, or make sense of the fact that he is part of his adoptive family because of losses so large that even God says they cause unrequited yearning.

This is what fuels the small but expensive healthy infant adoption industry in the United States, and it is also much of what fuels the international adoption industry when same-race children are involved. I presented research one year at a conference, showing that adoption fees are based on the race of the children being adopted. My fact-based comments infuriated several other experts, some of whose own statistics I used in my speech. They didn’t want their pretty statistics used in such an ugly way. But I was correct about money following demand; it always does. Jesus himself said that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Or, as Jerry Maguire said, “Show me the money!”

It is impossible to write about what a real mother is without looking at mothering in the dramatic context of child welfare, for child welfare and adoption throw into sharp relief all of the most important issues related to being a real mother. I hope everyone will bear with me as I complete this series on Real Mothers, for I have a lot on my mind and it’s been rolling around inside me for a long time.

15 responses

  1. I became honored to get a call coming from a friend when he found the important ideas shared on the site. Examining your blog post is a real wonderful experience. Thank you for thinking about readers at all like me, and I would like for you the best of success as being a professional in this field.

  2. Good morning to you too! :)You are correct in there is a long line of a lack of responsibility and thank you for helping where you could. There has been a whole lot of sex taking place outside of marriage since the beginning of time and unlike the baby scoop era where everyone including the parents were abandoning the pregnant girl now the adoption agencies ,with the help of the Bush admin., have re-introduced the Homes for unwed Mothers and have even suggested there are ways around any interference the father or parents might create. Why is this? Because more parents are now stepping up and fathers are wanting to take responsibility and this is cutting into the profits of the adoption industry.The Infant Adoption Awareness Act is now funded to train anyone who might come in contact with a pregnant Mother.The National Council for Adoption is the link for many agencies and they helped to push through this bill.Why? Because adoption is big business.When this bill was being thought out it was suggested that more birth-control be taught to Women of color since it was less likely their babies would be adoptable.I saw this with my own two eyes on-line and then they deleted it after I spoke out about this plan. If there was not a market for infant adoption more attention would be given towards family preservation.First there must be clients willing to pay the fees and there are enough clents who will do just that. Then the business sets out to make sure there is enough (product) to fulfill the orders.This is very well thought out business plan.
    BTW The Guttmacher Institute recently published a country-wide study(United states) that showed that 95% of adults in the USA have had sex outside of marriage at some time in their lives. If all of these sinful folks lost a child to adoption there wouldn’t be enough good people to adopt them. Have a great day!

  3. Good morning, Linda. It pains me to read your comment because I feel the injustice with you. When I think of the statement Saint James made that “pure and undefiled religion is to care for the widow and the orphan in their distress,” I wonder if Christians motivated by their desire to have a child have forgotten that God’s first and best plan has always been family preservation?

    If a woman has no husband, but she has a child, then the community was to help her take care of that child, starting with her family first. So if we want to be biblical about it, to be fair don’t we need to back up all the way to the parents?

    If we were living Biblically, these kids would not be having sex outside marriage. There would be a mother and father for the baby. But, let’s say there isn’t. Sex and conception occur, and a pregnancy results. Daddy won’t stick around, but abandons the mother. It is still the job of his family and him to support that baby. Why doesn’t the mother get child support after a DNA test? She is at fault, too. He is at fault, too.

    But suppose it can’t work that way in their lives for whatever reason, and the mother is left alone. This makes the baby essentially fatherless. It is then her family’s responsibility (biblically speaking) to help her. Why do they not help her? Oh, they are not acting biblically, that’s why. Nobody in her entire family of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings and cousins will step up and agree to help her raise that baby and shelter her in their own home, just like the Bible teaches.

    So now we have the failure of the father and the mother. You have the failure of the father’s family and the mother’s family. And now you somehow have an adoption agency, an adoption attorney, and prospective adoptive parents step in. Biblically, they ought to help preserve that family, take that girl in and help her.

    But of course, they do not, because as you rightly point out, there is money and baby hunger involved. So they, too, fail in a godless nation where people like to say they believe in God but do not want to exercise pure religion. We want our religion with additives, don’t we? We want it with preservatives and all impure so that we don’t have to look for truth, much. We can avoid responsibility.

    So, Linda, I agree with you, but I think maybe due to some sort of self-interest, you are stopping at the adoptive parent point and blaming adoptive parents and adoption facilitators for a fault that occurred way before they ever entered the picture. The fault began when two unmarried people had sex, were fools who did not use birth control, and made a baby. Then they themselves refused to be virtuous and to raise their own baby, and nobody in their respective families would help them.

    Sin upon sin, so to speak, if you believe in sin (the Greek word origin means to “miss the mark,” and that is certainly the case in adoption, everyone missing the mark).

    So maybe everyone involve needs to pray, Linda. Maybe everyone, birth parents, birth families, neighbors, church members of those birth families, on down to adoption facilitators and greedy prospective adoptive parents, all need to pray, repent of their having missed the mark, and take a good look at themselves.

    It is so easy to blame others for sin. In reality, we have that same sin in us. Though I grow infuriated from time to time with “them” out there, “they” who are so wrong-headed and wrong-hearted, I too am a terrible sinner.

    As Jesus said, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” A good thing to remember.

    So, I agree with you: greedy prospective adoptive parents need to pray for some integrity. As do adoption facilitators and birth families. Because if integrity doesn’t start with the people having sexual intercourse, then what do you expect God to do about that little baby who results? If everyone down the chain of responsibility abandons his or her responsibility, then who do you think God is going to use to step up and take it?

    If a young mother’s own parents won’t help and house her, then do you really think every other stranger ought to be virtuous enough to take in a girl who has already proved that she isn’t exactly the model of Christian behavior? You blame strangers for their failure to do what her own parents, or the parents of the baby’s father, won’t do?

    Really.

    How interesting.

    Linda, I’ve housed and helped numerous moms having crisis pregnancies. But I can’t house them all. I never did see one family of any of the girls I helped help them. I had to do their jobs and I did it in the name of Christ, but I have to admit that at the time I wished those families of these young parents who were in so much crisis they had considered abortion and adoption as solutions (!) would get some integrity too.

    I say, let’s have integrity all the way around and let’s go back to the source. Maybe the parents of that young couple in crisis ought to have done some better parenting, or maybe they should have exposed their families to more girls with crisis pregnancies so their sexually active kids would use some birth control. Maybe they could have been better parents.

    As far back or forward as the chain goes, we need more integrity. I agree with you. I just think that there is a lot more fault than the fault you so rightly identify as belonging to prospective adoptive parents.

  4. Hi there; Sometimes I am wordy and other times straight to the point.One never knows just which one I will be (not even me ) LOL But one can usuallly be sure of at least one mis-spelling 🙂
    I tend to think that Mothers and their infants are a family.Who is the orphan in this? In my eyes view there isn’t one unless it is created.And there are sure a lot of people who have an agenda to create them .So , they can save the little orphans. Can you please explain to me why
    there are all these infertile women who have heard the CALL to adopt? It almost seems like it takes away any responsiblity for their decision to ‘help a pregnant woman out of her crisis? And what is the crisis? That not enough Christians are stepping up to help the mother and infant stay together? Maybe they haven’t heard the CALL for this? So, does this mean that God has placed the baby in the wrong womb and they are just helping him fix this ? And that really God didn’t mean for them to be infertile and a way to say “woops’ I will give you more worthy women another womans child?Do they believe that God didn’t mean for them to be infertile and another woman fertile? I just think it would be Ok for them to get really pissed at God and be honest and say it.They can also follow it up by “and damn it I will get an infant however I can and as long as I can pay for it I will . Maybe they could just throw in there if it doesn’t sound nice enough “OH ya and God told me he wanted me to do this.
    Adoption agencies feed into to this and they themselves will throw God into it if it serves their purpose.And it sure seems to, Just check out the web sites of most of the agencies.And these agencies would crack me up if it wasn’t for the harm they cause.One agency thought I was a PAP when I asked a question about open adoption and sent me some information.They said a good reason for me to sign with them aka give them a check, was because their counselor becomes friends with the pregnant Mom and this comes in handy if the Mom thinks of changing her mind (as many do)
    So tell me “where is the integrity?OK, I almost expect it from the agency, after all it is marketting and it works, so they do what will give them a pay check.But,where is the PAPS integrity? Maybe they need to pray for some?

  5. Tammy, this is one of the most cogent, moving comments I have ever read, anywhere.

    I’m sometimes dumbfounded at the wisdom that can appear in a simple blog comment; your few paragraphs have me dumbfounded today. I wish everyone who ever was entrusted with a child to parent through adoption could read what you’ve written, and I wish every parent shared your view.

  6. If there is journey I’m on (read: my life) has taught me only one thing (and it has taught me more) it is that compassion even when we can’t understand what someone else is going through is a must. Everyone has a story to tell and unless we listen, we’ll miss it. I choose to be compassionate even when it is not returned to me.

    And as I’ve worked hard to listen to other voices about adoption, listening in order to hear what my children might be telling me/feeling someday, I have had to learn that most of the time, because of the hurt of loss that is carried in the inmost parts, compassion cannot be returned. I understand that others have (or feel they have…in truth, we can all learn from each other’s story, no matter how different they are) no need of me as I represent someone who hurt them deeply. I am here to learn about things I have not experienced in order to be mother to the children in my life. I am as real to them as the mother who parented them through their months in her womb, and through her decision to place them in our family. We are both real through very different kind of mothers. I hope against hope that my children will always know this.

    And in regards to your last comment to Alida, I would say that it was only after I became a parent through adoption that I realized the full force of loss that barrenness had given me. In some ways it was a relief to me that those feelings of loss were still there because I knew that there was no way that my children filled a hole in me… no, that was my job to do for myself (just like my husband didn`t complete me either). My womb is still empty and the feelings that surround that are separate from my ability to mother. Adoption fulfilled my desire to parent. My children didn`t solve infertility. One is relational. The other is physical. All of course is spiritual so it affects my whole person, but I can say without a doubt that if anything my infertility has been a catalyst to working on myself more, to become more whole, to fill the places that are empty with Other, and not to expect my children to do that job. No one should carry that burden.

    Just some thoughts about this post and a little on the last…

  7. Alida, I think many times the motivation of professionals is misguided and ignorant helpfulness. Everyone knows someone who has adopted and lived happily ever after. Even if that’s not the exact story, to most outside observers, adoption looks like a happy solution to unhappy problems.

    Why would people whose suffering from infertility remains unresolved go ahead and adopt? This is something I’ve thought about a lot over the years. I think of Rachel in the Bible, who cried to Jacob, “Give me children, lest I die!” Those are strong words, and a strong motivation. I can only think that it’s the ever-hungry womb calling out for satisfaction, but if anyone else has explanations, I’d like to hear them.

  8. Linda, that’s not all the Bible teaches about adoption. You forgot St. James (among others), “Pure and undefiled religion is to care for the orphan in his distress.”

    But, yes, it is absolutely wrong to snatch babies. Nobody here will argue that it’s virtuous.

    Keep reading!

  9. What does the Bible say about adoption?

    “THE WICKED SNATCH FATHERLESS CHILDREN FROM THEIR MOTHER’S BREASTS, AND TAKE A POOR MAN’S BABY AS A PLEDGE BEFORE THEY WILL LOAN HIM ANY MONEY OR GRAIN” –Job 24:9–

    “By Faith, Moses Refused To Be Called Son of The Pharaoh’s Daughter.” – Hebrews: 11:24

  10. Sergio and I had been open to adding children to the mix for four years. After a miscarriage, we spoke to my ob/gyn, who was also a fertility practitioner.

    He advised us to just wait it out a bit longer, he didn’t see any physical reason for us not to concieve and go full term.

    I was so grateful, because we were so hurt and vulnerable at that moment we may have done anything he suggested.

    This is where I am always appalled by “the industry.” It seems that professionals really tell themselves they are helping couples, whether it’s invitro or adoption. I always have to wonder when people aren’t given time to heal before they are lead down that road paved with “good intentions” what might the real motivitation be?

  11. Helen, thanks for commenting at all! Sometimes I feel that I’m writing into a great void, like some space explorer who will probably never see earth again! LOL. Knowing you’re reading over my shoulder is comforting, thanks.

  12. Money and services rendered are a whole ‘nother topic, aren’t they? I haven’t even begun to write about the real-world application of the”let’s take the money out of child welfare” mindset. It’s impossible, unless we can persuade competent people to work for nothing. But, yes, when money and humans are involved, it does give everything the air of corruption.

    Maybe I’ll call up some fertility doctors and ask what the actual material cost is for doing an IVF cycle. That would be interesting. The true costs in an adoption would be the actual overhead plus the salaries of any professionals involved. I figured it once on an hourly basis and could not, for the life of me, come up with any reason one could justify the adoption of a healthy infant for more than $7,000.00, unless the agency had to pay for medical costs (which, in most cases, they do not… but nobody tells the birth or adoptive families this).

    Thank you for the quote. It’s beautiful; I wish that every orphan-hearted person could shake him- or herself from the dust and receive abundant, free grace and love.

  13. Ugh. An industry? It sounds truly callous and heartless to use that term with infertility and adoption. But it’s true. Somehow when money gets involved in interpersonal relations and medicine, a sense of corruption follows.

    It would be nice if materialism and money could be less of a consideration in all these dealings. I’m pretty sure that the actual costs of IVF are not $10,000 a cycle, unless you include profit making. You could say better than I what the “true” costs of adoption are: what is really being paid for?

    A nice Bible quote to counteract all that “give, give” of materialism:
    Shake thyself from the dust….
    Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.”

    Isaiah 52:2-3.

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