Thinking and praying about adoption? We have been there. It can be scary and overwhelming.

We know that the list of results from a google search can make it feel even more overwhelming. Take a deep breath and consider finding someone you trust that has been through it.  Talk to them. Pray with them.  Find people that have adopted recently and some that adopted many years ago. Listen to their stories and ask them for advice. Ask what they wish had been different. Give them space to be honest with you, try to be a great listener. There is much to learn from the experiences of others.

We adopted two of our children from Haiti before we ever lived here, 12 years ago. The orphanage our children were placed in back in 2001 is no longer operating.

Our thoughts and feelings about adoption have evolved over the last 12 years. We believe adoption can be a beautiful and redemptive thing, but we do not discount how painful and complicated it is. The fairy tale approach to adoption, wherein the adoptive parent "saves" the needy child, isn't a wise way to enter into the process.

We struggle with the fact that one of our three kids probably should never have been placed. He was a "poverty orphan" with two living birth-parents and many siblings and we have a lot of really difficult questions and some guilt about that. His first mother was misled and mistreated. (It took knowing her whole story and speaking the language to finally learn that.) Poor people are easily exploited, we strongly advise new parents to do a ton of research.

If you are thinking of adopting from Haiti:

We would personally not choose to work with or adopt from either 'His Home' or Giving Hope Rescue Mission - GHRM or any of their partner agencies. We have concerns and heavy hearts regarding many of the ethics and behaviors of the director of Giving Hope Rescue Mission, Heather Elyse).   

(Giving Hope Rescue Mission partners was partnering with MLJ Adoptions in Indiana as of mid 2013. October 2013 update: MLJ has informed me they are no longer working with GHRM or Heather Elyse.) 
( Voice of the Orphan - Heather Elyse - Tim Rowe - MLJ Adoptions are all people and agencies that I would not choose to work with in adoption.)

We urge you to look closely at whomever you choose and do not assume websites give a full picture.

We recommend that you research the methods and procedures of the orphanage thoroughly.  (Think about how children come to be placed and be sure you are questioning someone that has a lot of healthy babies in their orphanage - that is a red flag.) Some orphanages in Haiti take children from their families of origin with no questions asked.  Some orphanages in Haiti even exchange small amounts of money for children and use child-finders (illegal). Adoption involves money the system can be (is often) corrupt and difficult to navigate. Whomever you chose should be able to prove success and show you other completed adoptions.  You should be able to call dozens of references if you wish.  Lastly, not all orphanages in Haiti are licensed to process adoptions.

Adoption requires going through pain, having patience, and willingness to grow. In our opinion, it is not a fairy-tale of "saving". That saving stuff happens once, then it is just parenting - and if you are a parent you know that is not a glamorous job all the time. That hero/savior narrative is a dangerous one.

One of our close friends (with older kids from a hard place) tells us that the preparation for what parenting a hurt child will be like is critically important.  It is best not to adopt solely because the pastor of your church said "We must adopt because we are adopted". Much the way every person is not called to sell their belongings and move to work and live in a hut, not every Christian is called to adopt.  Some certainly are - but not all. That line of thinking is part of the "movement", but in watching the adoption movement and its effects here on the ground in Haiti, we have met many hurting birth parents, adoptive parents, and adopted kids that entered into adoption unprepared, under-educated, and for reasons that did not prepare them to go the distance. Don't adopt out of guilt. Please don't adopt for thanks, attention, or fame.  Do it only because you prayed and thought it through and are certain you should and certain you will fight with all your might to raise your child. Adoption as a "movement" is concerning to us. (Read this post, about Orphan Sunday.)

Our heart is for helping families remain in tact, if at all possible. We believe it is very important that the orphanage care about preserving family and that they have some vested interest in helping prevent the placement of orphans too.

Adoption is a beautiful, restorative, and redemptive thing for children in need of a family. It is not without pain and risk.  It will not solve or even come close to scratching the surface of the "orphan crisis".  Many children in orphanages have a living birth-parent. "Orphan" is a misnomer. The more questions you ask of your orphanage about their philosophy and approach, the more assured you can be that you are adopting a child that was ethically taken into the orphanage and needs to be adopted.

With International adoption it is good to be cognizant that at any point the country can change their rules or shut down. It is a risk you'll have to weigh and consider.

Posts on Adoption:

A letter to future adoptive parents  - HERE. 

When your children come home - good advice HERE.

And here: The truth about adoption - One Year later (Jen Hatmaker)

Transracial Adoption - Love is Colorblind? A Vision Test

Adoption is built on pain

Statistically Speaking

Calling for Balance

A boat that needs rocking


An adoption reunion story (19 years in the making)

Adoption Ethics 

First, Do No Harm

**A joint site with information about Giving Hope Resuce Mission and Heather Elyse and Tim Rowe
(This site was put together by 15 families that hope to share some of the redflags they missed or ignored.This is the explanation for our recommendation not to use this agency.)

There will never be enough people desiring and willing to adopt to reduce the orphan crisis significantly. It should be the goal of every adoptive parent to find ways to keep families together in addition to being willing to adopt a child that cannot stay with his/her family.  Sometimes as consumers from a consumer culture we get to thinking that because we have financial means we are better suited to parent and raise a child than the "poor" biological family.  That is arrogant and not usually correct. (Plus, if we believe that it means that 90% of the children in the world are being raised by unfit poor people.)  People without material blessing live joy-filled and inspiring lives. Poor people love their children too.

The prevention of orphans is the only way the orphan crisis will ever be improved.  There are ministries that work to support women to keep and raise their own children in poorer countries.  In addition to adopting it would be a huge blessing for all adoptive parents to also invest in organizations and people that are working to address the core issues and offer support to first-mothers/families.

2012 Nat'l Adoption Day Post with many additional and new links.

(This page is always under construction - new links will periodically be added here.)


It has come to our attention in recent weeks that by asking for transparency and encouraging our friends and others to look deeper at the ethics involved in adopting from a poor country, we have been labeled "anti-adoption".  That's not true of course.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Sometimes people get defensive and do not stop to listen to what is really being said, we know that because we have done this in the past, too.  Saying that we want to stop children from being purchased (or taken without total understanding of the first mother/family) makes us "anti-adoption" - is like saying that because we hate rape, we are anti-sex. No need to make the giant leap. Please, save your legs.

Discouraging unethical adoptions does not (in any way shape or form) equate to discouraging ethical ones.

PPS- We have added Troy's final thoughts on this in the comments section and closed the comments on this post. We deleted numerous comments of vastly varying opinions. The reason we did that is that the comments were not at all in response to what *we* wrote about GHRM, and this is our forum.

1 comment:

T & T Livesay said...

For those of you that are upset by our opinion, I encourage you to carefully read what we actually wrote, not what other commenters have shared here, before you lower the boom so quickly. I am sincerely thankful to hear of the positive experiences some have had. I am saddened to hear of the negative experiences others have had. We've allowed people from both "sides" to share their experiences in hopes that we all can acknowledge that we each have only partial information and particular experiences, and the truth is likely bigger than we know individually from our limited experiences. We are simply sharing that in our case the balance of what we know from both direct experience and consistent reports from trustworthy sources causes us to conclude that we cannot and do not recommend GHRM.

The amount of traffic suddenly on this old post of ours is very interesting, and clearly people are being pointed to it in order to weigh in and support the ministry that people obviously feel very strongly about. The truth usually does not need such vehement defense and coordinated effort to shout down those with differing opinions. Most outspoken supporters of GHRM are currently in the process of adopting from that organization. Third party sources will always be much more objective.

Certainly we believe in handling offenses the way the Bible says to handle them. If this were a case like that, we'd approach it accordingly. It's not. We have not made accusations against anyone that necessitate any sort of direct confrontation, and we aren't in a position to exercise any kind of authority with Heather or GHRM. We are in a position to be asked who we do and don't recommend, and this is our current answer. Heather has not contacted us, either before or since we added this information to this page, but if she is offended or injured that we don't recommend her and does contact us, we would be more than happy to sit down with her and talk. We have a view of adoption issues and orphan care that, given what we do know, prevents us from recommending GHRM at this time. We would be happy for that to change.

Not a single post here has any accurate information as to why we came to the conclusion we did about not recommending this organization. The sources of this bad information are beholden to the organization and have interests to protect. We will not share our specific concerns in a public forum. We simply have stated that based on our own personal dealings with the organization of GHRM we can not recommend pursuing an adoption with them. I hope any and all concerned will prayerfully and carefully consider their decisions and responsibilities when it comes to being involved with Haitian adoptions.

We pray regularly for all those involved in the difficult labyrinth of adopting from Haiti. We are praying for the truth to be brought to light in every situation and for all families involved. We believe God passionately loves each one of us, our families, and the ministries involved in His Kingdom work. That passionate love extends to every child and family in Haiti. I believe those of us who have any role whatsoever in the choices Haitian families make about their children have a great responsibility to tread carefully in our relationships and dealings with "the poor," and that includes inviting and welcoming diligent and intense scrutiny of our motives and efforts to "help." We submit ourselves for that kind of scrutiny, and because so much is at stake, we will be very cautious about who we do recommend and honest about who we simply cannot recommend. Our opinions are just our opinions, and we don't view them more highly than we ought. No one else should either.

Troy Livesay