When I Wanted to Adopt Kids, the Agency Asked About My Religious Beliefs. What Would You Have Done?

Last week’s post by Veronica Chenik Gilmore, about her adopted children, held special significance for me.

My daughters (see below), now 11 and 9, are adopted too.

My wife and I worked through an international adoption agency, Gladney, that is at least nominally Christian, having been founded by a Methodist minister more than a hundred years ago. I wasn’t aware of this at the start, but wouldn’t have cared one way or the other. All that mattered to me was that the agency was staffed with experienced, caring, competent, and fair people. And it was. I have nothing but abundant praise for our case workers and everyone else up and down Gladney’s chain of command.

Throughout the years-long process, there was just one hiccup that had to do with religion.

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My Atheist Husband and I Have Seven Kids, Four of Whom Were Adopted, and We’re Raising Them As Happy Freethinkers

This is a guest post by Veronica Chenik Gilmore.

“You are so blessed”

“You’re an angel”

“Are you Catholic?”

“Are they all yours?”

“God Bless you”

These statements are just a sampling of what people say to my husband and me when they find out we have seven children.

We have a blended family — three biological children and four who came to us from Tennessee through an interstate adoption program. Strangers and casual acquaintances step into our circle to celebrate our “good deed” as if we’re doing something to please God. These well-intentioned people have no clue that we are hiding something very important from them: our identity as atheists.

Most people assume it was our faith that led us to adopt. But after hearing all sorts of mischaracterizations and faulty conclusions about who we are, it’s time for me to speak up. We’re not religious and we’re adoptive parents.

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Video: Screaming Eight-Year-Old Boy Is Terrified His Atheist Mom Is Going To Hell

My kids are 8 and 11 years old. You’d better believe that neither of them would be allowed to scream at me like the boy in this video (whose name, interestingly enough, is Christian) does when he confronts his atheist mom. Then again, being a parent is sailing in largely uncharted waters. I certainly don’t have all the answers, either.



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A Forum for Secular Moms

Mandy explains why she began a forum for Secular Moms:



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Ask Richard: My Non-Religious Relatives Want to Attend Church for Their Future Children

Note: Letter writers’ names are changed to protect their privacy.

Dear Richard,

Recently my sister called to tell me that despite neither she nor my brother-in-law being religious people, and despite the fact that they both reject the idea of Jesus as a supernatural figure, she and my brother-in-law have decided to attend church regularly. Obviously, if that’s what they want to do with their Sunday mornings, that’s their business. My concern has to do with one reason my sister gave for wanting to attend church: they are planning to have children soon, and she wants to raise her children with a religion.

She said she wouldn’t care if they chose to leave the church when they got older, but seems to think that some sort of religious foundation is necessary. The other, somewhat more baffling reason is that she wants to make it easier for any of her children who would want to have a religious wedding in the future, since a friend of hers had to attend a lot of classes before getting married to a Catholic man, as this friend had not grown up Christian and was never baptized.

I realize the ultimate decision is theirs, but as a concerned sister and aunt-to-be, what can I do in this situation to help mitigate the harm I my sister will be doing to her children by allowing them to be indoctrinated this way? This seems as irresponsible to me as if she’d told me that she was anti-vax.

Nicole

Dear Nicole,
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