A happy story, a sad story, and a question about questions

Christianity Today passes along a bit of encouraging news — “Family Christian Stores Buys Itself, Pledges to Give 100% of Profits to Widows and Orphans“:

The largest chain of Christian retail stores in America, Family Christian Stores, has bought itself from its private equity owners, reports Publisher’s Weekly. …

PW’s Lynn Garrett reports that the new owners, FCS’s management team plus three Atlanta-based investors, “pledge to contribute 100 percent of [FCS] profits to Christian ministries serving widows and orphans in the U.S. and abroad.”

Cool. I only hope that when they refer to “ministries serving widows and orphans” they don’t mean the sort of thing suggested in this comment to an earlier post from Christianity Today:

Adoption has always been the answer to orphans. The problem today is there are not enough babies thanks to the legal murder of babies.

That’s someone calling herself “Original Anna,” neatly summarizing what she and many anti-abortion Christians believe is “the problem today” with orphans — we aren’t producing enough of them to meet demand.

* * * * * * * * *

This is not an encouraging story. But from what we have seen over the years from the religious right, it is not a surprising story:

Lisa Biron is associated with the Alliance Defending Freedom, a group of lawyers who, according to their website, are committed to keeping “the door open for the spread of the Gospel” by advocating for “religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family.” In Concord, she worked with the ADF in defending a Pentecostal Church on Mountain Road in its tax fight against the city.

She recently served on the board of directors at Mount Zion Christian Schools in Manchester, according to the school’s headmaster.

On Biron’s Facebook page, which was taken down in recent weeks, she had listed the Bible as her favorite book.

* * * * * * * * *

Perfectnumber628 asks, “Are we allowed to question abstinence?

Short answer: No.

Longer answer: “Allowed” by whom? The folks who insist you’re not “allowed” to question abstinence — or to question anything else they tell you either — should not be allowed to dictate what you are and are not allowed to do.

The evangelical Powers That Be will never allow you to live your faith. They will only allow you to live theirs, and you will never, ever be able to live their faith to their satisfaction. So live yours instead.

Worrying about whether or not you are satisfying people who can never be satisfied is a waste of time. Worrying about not upsetting people who are perpetually upset is also a waste of time.

If you have questions, then ask questions. And don’t worry about permission from the Powers That Be.

But then perfectnumber628 already figured that out, as she writes:

God gives us freedom. [God] doesn’t want us to live in fear. So let’s follow God and ask those questions.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.com/ D Johnston

    Adoption has always been the answer to orphans. The problem today is there are not enough babies thanks to the legal murder of babies.

    Nngh. I hate when pro-lifers pull out this nugget of unalloyed bullshit – that there aren’t enough children to adopt because of abortion.

    There are plenty of children to adopt. If that statement were true, there’d be no foster care system. Foster care exists because couples only want to adopt healthy white infants. Granted, race doesn’t matter as much now as it used to, but the “healthy” and “infant” parts are non-negotiable for most couples. They don’t want children who have chronic health conditions or birth defects, and they don’t want children who are “too old,” which can place kids as young as four into permanent limbo. Increasingly, there are even couples who don’t want healthy infants who come from abusive or neglectful homes because they might have psychological problems that won’t become evident until later, a product of the “adopted child syndrome” myth.

    These kids usually only go to homes with individuals or couples who wouldn’t have a shot at a healthy white infant. Of course, that includes gay couples – couples that the “not enough babies” crowd are fighting tooth and nail to stop from adopting. In other words, these “Good Christians” have created a system where children are funneled into an overburdened system to serve as prizes, with the losers shuffled into a place where they can be quietly ignored.

    Sorry for the rant, this one’s a little personal.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

     It’s a good rant, and something that needs to be said.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     There are plenty of children to adopt. If that statement were true, there’d be no foster care system.

    Yeah.  That’s why my response to the, “Don’t abort, someone would love to adopt that baby!” argument is, “I’ll accept that argument when there is no longer a foster care program due to lack of demand or need.”

  • Kiba

    Worrying about whether or not you are satisfying people who can never be satisfied is a waste of time. Worrying about not upsetting people who are perpetually upset is also a waste of time.

    To quote Eleanor Roosevelt: 
    Do what you feel in your heart to be right-for you’ll
    be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

  • SisterCoyote

    The evangelical Powers That Be will never allow you to live your faith. They will only allow you to live theirs, and you will never, ever be able to live their faith to their satisfaction. So live yours instead.

    This is beautiful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Albright/100001047690991 Michael Albright

    I’ve made this argument, too. An acquaintance, looking for reasons to declare abortion “irrational,” broke out this lovable old chestnut. I said largely what you say here, but I’d have been more satisfied with it if I’d been able to find any statistics on how many kids age out of the system every year. Their complete lack of a support network is just the rotten cherry on a crap sundae.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ericrboersma Eric Boersma

    Keep ranting.

  • Wednesday

    Not to mention, women who are denied abortions generally don’t put the resulting infants up for adoption. From the recent “Turnaway study” of women seeking abortions who are turned away at clinics because they were too far along or couldn’t jump through the legal hoops:

    “Most of the women who were denied an abortion, 86%, were living with
    their babies a year later. Only 11% had put them up for adoption.”
    (http://io9.com/5958187/what-happens-to-women-denied-abortions-this-is-the-first-scientific-study-to-find-out)

    Even if the numbers were reversed, and it was 86% who _had_ put their children up for adoption… impoverished people do not just exist for the convenience of the more economically privileged. They are people in their own right. Demanding women be denied abortions so that there are more healthy white babies in the adoption market is disgusting.

  • Ursula L

    There are plenty of children to adopt. If that statement were true, there’d be no foster care system. 

    Not true.

    Not every child in the foster care system is up for adoption.  Not every child in foster care should be up for adoption.  

    And we don’t want every child in the foster care system to be up for adoption.

    There are many reasons why a child can end up in foster care.  And not all of those reasons are that either both parents don’t want to care for the child or both parents can’t or aren’t  caring for the child.

    For example, one of my cousins wound up in foster care.  Her mother was unmarried, her father wanted nothing to do with her.  Her mother was diagnosed with a serious mental illness (bipolar) and, when she was three, was not able to care for her.  My cousin wound up in foster care, with my parents (particularly my mother, her mother’s sister) as the designated foster parents from when she was three (and I was in tenth grade) until I graduated from high school.  When I went to college, and was no longer available to care for my cousin, my mother decided she did not want to care for my cousin (since I was no longer there to do much of the actual care) and my cousin went into the conventional foster care system for a few years.  

    But as my aunt responded to treatment (medication, in-patient care in a hospital, a halfway house, and then out-patient care in subsidized housing) she gradually became able to care for my cousin again.  And my cousin eventually wound up back with her mother, and while they had some rough times, it all turned out okay in the end.  

    But adoption was never on the table, despite the need for foster care.  

    ***

    There are many reasons why a child can wind up in foster care.  Ultimately, they all are merely that the parents can’t care for the child at the moment.

    I’m single, I have no close family in town.  If I had a child, and if I was to wind up ill and in the hospital, there would be no one within 50 miles to care for the child until I was better.  Temporary foster care would be needed until I was better, and adoption would be entirely inappropriate if I had a serious but not permanent medical condition interfering with my ability to provide care.  

    ***

    The foster care system is a good thing, because it is about providing temporary care when parents can’t manage appropriate care.  

    And we don’t want foster care to be seen as the road to adoption, because that would mean that both parents and children would avoid using available help when needed, because they’d be afraid that needing help to keep their family together despite the need for a short-term separation would mean that their family would be permanently split apart.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/ericrboersma Eric Boersma

    D’s initial point is still valid, though it should probably be reworded to “There would be no orphans in foster care”. You bring up some good points about the foster system.

  • Michael Pullmann

    Even not counting the kids in foster care, there are still plenty of children out there to be adopted. The notion of some kind of dearth of adoptable babies because of abortion is a lie that offends me, an adoptee, to my very core.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    Apropos of nothing in this post but:

    Tsk! Tsk! Even the bankers/city types are in on the great conspiracy to make us all believe in Climate Change. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/city-tells-george-osborne-we-cant-afford-to-ignore-climate-risk-8329411.html

    Tsk! I say, Tsk!

    (why yes. I am snarking at Climate Change Sceptics, why do you ask?)

  • http://kingdomofsharks.com/ D Johnston

    True enough, not really my point. What you’re talking about sounds more like what we called guardianship, which is a different kettle of fish entirely. I knew plenty of kids growing up who were under the custody (temporary or permanent) of guardians, usually relatives who were never considered their legal parents. By and large, they turned out better than the kids who were more or less abandoned by their parents – not foster children, but still considered wards of the state.

    Point being, family law is complex. Please don’t get upset because I haven’t hashed out the details of family law for every state and territory in this country. My point is that the “deficit of adoptable children” is both demonstrably false and an awful premise in general.

  • stardreamer42

     impoverished people do not just exist for the convenience of the more economically privileged

    Hear, hear! The “women should have babies to be put up for adoption” argument carries at its heart the unexpressed assumption that women — especially underprivileged women — are nothing but breeding animals. And you’d be surprised how frequently that attitude carries over into other discussions about human rights for women, such as equal pay and equal protection under the law.

  • Chrissl

    Seconding or thirding the comments that the so-called dearth of babies to adopt is a myth.

    Race is unfortunately still a factor. Despite the fact that adoption is socially acceptable in this society, some people are uncomfortable considering adopting a child who doesn’t look like them.

    There was a time a few decades ago when some social workers were quite adamant that any Black child placed in a Caucasian family would lose his or her heritage forever, and they lobbied against such placements. Unfortunately, at the time, there were so many Black children in need of adoption that something like one out of every four Black families would have to adopt, in order for every Black child to find a home in a Black family. Happily, finding a loving, stable home for the child is now generally seen as more important than matching face colors.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Adoption has always been the answer to orphans. The problem today is there are not enough babies thanks to the legal murder of babies.

    The logic in this statement is confusing me.  Murdering babies does not create orphans.  Murdering parents creates orphans.  

    It sounds like some plot to kill parents so their children can be taken in by someone else.  

  • EllieMurasaki

    I think the logic is that an aborted fetus will never become an adoptable baby and therefore there is a shortage of adoptable babies due to abortion. Which, it’s madness, but there’s method to it. The logic falls apart when one points out that ninety percent of women who seek an abortion but end up giving birth keep the baby rather than putting it up for adoption, and also when one points out the sheer number of children without legal parents (whether those parents placed them for adoption or died or had their parental rights terminated) who’re too old, too brown, or with too many (read, any) physical or mental health issues to be adoptable, but the idea that a shortage of a thing is due to reduced production of the thing is not itself wrong.

  • Joel Rieves

    What Original Annie really meant was there aren’t enough WHITE babies. Because God knows any self-respecting fundamentalist isn’t going to be seen with one of those black or brown kids.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    And how many pro-life ‘activists’ then turn around and use that ~90% statistic as ~*~PROOF~*~ that if the wimminz would just keep their pretty little heads away from the mean ol’ abortion doctor that they would naturally gravitate to the ~*~Wonders of Motherhood~*~?

    (Ignoring the fact that there is a very strong human instinct for a woman who has just borne a child to want to bond with the child, and this, plus social and personal pressures on women, distorts the incentives away from adoption)

  • Matri

    It sounds like some plot to kill parents so their children can be taken in by someone else. 

    Strangely enough, that was what I was thinking as well.

  • Ben English

    The irony of “Original Anna” trotting out the same tired ‘baby killers’ bullshit is not lost on anyone, is it?

  • EllieMurasaki

    And the statistics about the women denied abortions who are still in poverty years later when women demographically identical and permitted abortions have gotten out (children being expensive to care for), and the statistics about women denied abortions who are still in domestic violence situations years later when women demographically identical and permitted abortions have gotten out (children being a powerful tie between a domestic-violence survivor and her abuser, for multiple reasons), and…

  • Leum

    The reason abortion limits “adoptable” babies is because before it was legal, women who had children out of wedlock often had the newborn infants forcibly taken from them.

  • Wednesday

    So in other words… not treating women like shit decreased the supply of Healthy White Babies in the adoption market.

    Well, that explains why so much of the anti-legal-abortion movement’s tactics involve treating women like shit.

  • http://twitter.com/emjb emjb

    Race is still a really big issue to potential parents, honestly, disability even more so. And adoption itself is insanely expensive, and requires a great deal of time and effort. You have to make sure your finances, home life, and personal life all adhere to a high and sometimes arbitrary (or religious) standard in order to qualify, depending on where you adopt from.

    Not that high standards are a bad thing, but it is a barrier that at least some willing potential adopting parents will not be able to get past.

    Adoption also has problematic sides, at least according to some adopted kids and their birth mothers; it is not an easy thing to carry a baby to term and then turn it over to strangers. Some women are devastated by it.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Given the total clusterfuck the foster care system is I’m surprised potential adoptive parents get held to impossible standards while it seems like any greaseball sleazebag who wants a free check from the government can apply to become a foster parent.

  • DavidCheatham

    For adoption to be a reasonable solution _not only_ would the entire adoption system have to be running low on kids (Which it is not.), but there would also have to be the solution to the fact that many women cannot afford _pregnancy_.

    I’ve tried to point it out before, just like education, _everyone_ got a free birth. No one paid for their own, every single person that is alive had someone else pay for their medical expenses in being born.

    Unlike any other forms of medical care, absolutely no argument can be made that a fetus should have eaten healthier, or made the choice not to be born, or should have saved up their money, or had health insurance, or whatever inanities popup as an excuse to complain about sick people who can’t afford care. There is no possible way for a fetus to pay for that. And there is no possible way to game the system…everyone gets born exactly once.

    The problem, of course, is that we somehow tend to think medical care during a pregnancy is for the _woman_, that women are ‘rewarded’ for being pregnant.

    But, of course, being pregnant is actually _entirely_ against women’s interests. It is a huge hassle, it costs more even outside of medical expenses (More food, new clothes, diet restrictions), and it eventually results in a hell of a lot of pain and a huge financial burden for years. Volunteering to complete a pregnancy is basically a _epic_ level of _charity_ for women.(1)

    Saying ‘Women shouldn’t be given free medical care during a pregnancy’ is akin to saying ‘Those people who have volunteered to hand out food to the homeless shouldn’t be supplied with food they can hand out. They should have to buy food to hand out!’ (And then moaning that some of them who got signed up accidentally don’t go through with it because they can’t afford it. Gee, I wonder why?)

    1) I’m aware that sentence might be taken the wrong way, but please think carefully about that sentence before disagreeing.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Adoption also has problematic sides, at least according to some adopted kids and their birth mothers; it is not an easy thing to carry a baby to term and then turn it over to strangers. Some women are devastated by it.

    This might sound a little callus, but I thought that certain medical steps could be taken to mitigate the difficulty of separation?   For example, dosing the mother with oxytocin blockers at birth to inhibit emotional bonding.  Keeping that neurotransmitter regulated might also help ease the emotional “crash” of postpartum depression when the oxytocin levels start to return to normal after their surge during birth.  Serotonin and dopamine regulators would be useful too.  

    If the plan is to give the child up anyway, we ought not to be making it more difficult on the mother than it has to be.  

    Err, on second reading of this, I worry that it might be taken as mansplaining.  If so, I apologize for any ignorance and bluster on my part.  This comes from a place of compassion for an unpleasant experience that I only have my own imagination and sense of empathy to identify with, lacking the physical capacity to identify by shared experience.  

  • EllieMurasaki

    It’s a good thought, I think, but it’s impractical, at least at the moment. Anything that fucks with neurotransmitters generally takes a while to start working and, barring a stroke of luck, comes with side effects that are likely to require a change of medication. Fucking with neurotransmitters is therefore a long-term solution and only worthwhile if dealing with a long-term problem, which postpartum depression doesn’t start out as, and by the time we know it’s gone from short-term to long-term we might as well just call it ‘depression’ straight up because it’s been months since the birth.

    We might in the future get a better handle on neuropharmacology, at which point your idea’s worth revisiting, but for now it’s not a good plan.

  • Cathy W

    Oxytocin also plays a role in causing uterine contractions (it’s the primary drug given to induce labor), so blocking its action might also result in more women requiring C-sections. 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I was just thinking about the adoption thing again.

    It made me realize that “adoption” is a red herring.

    What anti-abortionists really want is that they depend on the statistic that says that ~10% of women bearing chldren end up giving them up, so there’s still 90% that they think have gotten the “message” as noted below.

    In their magical fantasyland thinking, what this somehow translates into is that the Magic of Motherhood somehow infuses itself into every pregnant woman … eventually. And because this Magic of Motherhood is so powerful, they imagine that if the avenue of abortion is closed off, pregnant women will just have to let the Magic of Motherhood settle upon them and make them so happy-clappy for kids that that ucky abortion thing will vanish into the mists of history.

    That kind of fantasizing would be ridiculous and laughable if it weren’t for the fact that real life people are making real decisions based on exactly that thinking.

  • EllieMurasaki

    And clearly the physical, economic, and social reasons for wanting an abortion evaporate when the abortion is denied.

  • P J Evans

     Some of them really, seriously, think that Every Woman Wants To Be A Mother. Even when they’ve been told that it doesn’t work like that by women who don’t want to be mothers.

  • Lori

    Given the total clusterfuck the foster care system is I’m surprised
    potential adoptive parents get held to impossible standards while it
    seems like any greaseball sleazebag who wants a free check from the
    government can apply to become a foster parent.  

    Not to in any way excuse the sometimes dismal quality of foster parents*, but the difference makes sense in a way. A fostering relationship can be ended at virtually a moments notice on discovery of a serious enough problem. It obviously doesn’t always happen when it should, but it can.

    Once an adoption has gone through the child is in every way the legal equivalent of  a biological child (which is obviously as it should be—and as an adoptee myself, I’d know). One of the things that means is that it is very difficult to remove the child from the home. On the one hand, the government should not have the power to take a child from its parents without good cause. On the other hand, the system is a broken mess and many children are left in horribly abusive homes because we have a presumption that outsiders shouldn’t interfere with the family.

    The issue is less the the process for screening adoptive parents is too rigorous (sometimes poorly or unfairly applied, but not really too rigorous) than that there aren’t enough resources and willing foster parents to make the foster parent selection as rigorous as it should be.

    Tl;dr: In a situation with limited resources it makes sense to allocate more of them to the area where failure has the highest risk.

    *Many, many foster parents are truly wonderful people, but sadly some are absolutely not.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Some of them really, seriously, think that Every Woman Wants To Be A Mother. Even when they’ve been told that it doesn’t work like that by women who don’t want to be mothers.

    They just assume that such women are in denial.  

    Hell, my mother could not get out of that attitude herself, despite being pro-choice.  She assumed that my desire to be child-free was just a phase, something I would grow out of.  She was “beyond pissed” when I had myself sterilized.  

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    It honestly surprises me how people react so strongly to the purposeful choice not to reproduce.


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