I really appreciate my old friend Jennifer's comments. In a sea of Christian comments she has the courage to speak her beliefs (respectfully) and ask questions. Jennifer, I hope you won't mind me responding to your comment in a new post!
"I am curious about those who view their children's birthfamilies religions negatively how that might impact honoring birthparents and culture? How does one reconcile that? I ask this because I am aware of one disruptions that happened after "spiritual warfare" - a family adopted an older child who felt a strong connection to her culture and religion. The family felt this was sign of a demon. She was stubborn and clung to what she was raised in. The family prayed over her and in the end, disrupted the adoption because they felt she was a bad influence on their other children. They even sent her away from her biological sibling! I thought this was one of the most horrifying things I've ever heard. It makes sense to me that this child held to what she knew that her religion had been a major part of her culture, and as she was losing so much, she kept those traditions sacred. The last I heard, this girl was in a family that allowed her to maintain those connections and she is doing beautifully. I wonder how her biological sibling will process all of this as they get older? "
Just like there are lots of sects in the Muslim community, there are lots in the Christian community. So what I believe about this stuff may be much different than what another (true) Christian believes about this. The thing that binds Christians is being believes in Jesus Christ. Beyond that there are MANY different beliefs.
In our family, we don't view other religions negatively. However, we do believe Christ is the one true way to heaven, and worshiping Him as the "right" way to live. There are (unfortunately) many Christians out there who spew hate of other religions. I don't believe that shows the love of Christ. We don't hide from our children that their birth families were not Christians. Neither do we vilify them for not being Christians. We don't know for sure what religion our Cambodia and Vietnam kids' parents were. Almost surely Buddhist for Cambodia. Probably Buddhist or Animist for Vietnam (but maybe Catholic???). For Ghana, we know. Our kids pray for their birth families--that IF they don't know Christ, they come to know them. Since our kids are Christians they believe in heaven after they die. They want to spend eternity with their birth families, and pray that is the case.
Maybe some families would find this difficult, but I don't find it difficult to honor my kids' birth culture while not accepting their religion. There are so many wonderful, beautiful things in each of their cultures. Some of those beautiful things come from the dominant religion in the country. I can teach my kids about the traditions in their countries without accepting those religions as the way to Christ. And certainly, there are some birth country traditions that we, as Christians, stay away from. For instance, Taevy knows what a "Spirit House" is in Cambodia, but we don't choose to keep a Spirit House on our property.
It's hard for me to imagine that a Christian family would disrupt an adoption because of spiritual warfare. I'm not doubting at all that has happened, but I wouldn't say that course of action falls within the line of mainstream Christians. There are some Christians out there that adopt in order to "save" a child. They do it out of their sense of "Christian duty" rather than out of a true desire to BUILD THEIR FAMILY. That is one of my biggest pet peeves, as a Christian. Adoption is born of TRAGEDY. It might turn out to be a blessing for the child, but it is also a selfish act. *I* wanted my child. *I* wanted to adopt. *I* get to be a mom because of my child's own horrible tragedy. I digress...
It seems that sometimes when Christians adopt in order to "save," it's the kids who fall by the wayside when they don't come home and act grateful, or accept Christianity. It's sad. Very sad. I've seen Christian families disrupt because the kids didn't have good manners quickly enough--didn't conform to the standards that they had set for their biological children. I've seen Christians act as if their children are somehow inherently bad because of the issues they are dealing with surrounding their adoption. In those cases, I think it is the adoptive family that is the problem--not the child. It's the family who didn't read and research and learn about all that these children come home and deal with. It's the parents who had unrealistic expectations. It's the parents who fail the child.
I don't mean to say that I never think disruption is called for. I think there are circumstances where a child simply can't blossom in the adoptive family they were placed in--and nobody is to fault. Kids can fail miserably in one good family only to thrive in another good family.
For what it's worth (and I know some Christians will NOT agree with me on this one), I don't think that, generally, a child with a set religious belief system should be placed into an adoptive home with a different religion. I'm not talking about kids who don't practice a religion. I'm talking about kids who actively practice another religion and have deep convictions towards their faith. It just so happens that in Ghana, most of the kids I work with have a VERY strong Christian faith. However, soon enough there may be a child that has a VERY strong Muslim faith. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. I don't think that those Muslim kiddos should be placed with a family who won't allow them to practice their faith, anymore than I want the Christian kiddos to go to a family that won't allow them to practice their faith. There are lots of ways to evangelize. I don't believe adoption should be used for the purpose of changing a child's core beliefs. There is a family at stake. The MOST important thing is that a child is placed with a family where they can thrive.
Spiritual warfare vs. adoption-related behavioral/psychological issues vs. issues the child would have had even without adoption... It's hard to know sometimes when one type of issue begins and another one ends. As a Christian I just have to put that to prayer and try to discern the difference. I think it's over-the-top for Christians to blame all of an adopted child's issues on spiritual warfare. And sometimes, I think that something that could appear to be a different sort of issue, is actually spiritual warfare. I keep using Taevy as my example. I think that's because she's got the widest variety of things going on (and I know she doesn't mind me sharing with you all)!
Night terrors that we believe to have been a spiritual attack.
Sensory and Trauma issues that we believe to be adoption-related.
Food and chemical sensitivities, and ADHD, which we believe to be medical (would have had these no matter what).
In a different family, with a different child, you could throw all of those things up in the air and the "cause" for those exact same issues may be completely different. As a Christian, I believe that the Holy Spirit leads us in discernment, if we only listen. That means not only listening within our prayers, but also to medical and behavioral professionals. The Lord imparted wisdom to man. The Lord gifted us with medical science. It would be silly for me to ignore the scientific side over the spiritual side. Both are real, and worthy of consideration.