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Adoption has long been enmeshed in the politics of reproductive rights, pitched as a “win-win” compromise in the never-ending abortion debate. But as Kathryn Joyce makes clear in...
Adoption has long been enmeshed in the politics of reproductive rights, pitched as a “win-win” compromise in the never-ending abortion debate. But as Kathryn Joyce makes clear in The Child Catchers, adoption has lately become even more entangled in the conservative Christian agenda.
To tens of millions of evangelicals, adoption is a new front in the culture wars: a test of “pro-life” bona fides, a way for born again Christians to reinvent compassionate conservatism on the global stage, and a means to fulfill the “Great Commission” mandate to evangelize the nations. Influential leaders fervently promote a new “orphan theology,” urging followers to adopt en masse, with little thought for the families these “orphans” may already have.
Conservative evangelicals control much of that industry through an infrastructure of adoption agencies, ministries, political lobbying groups, and publicly-supported “crisis pregnancy centers,” which convince women not just to “choose life,” but to choose adoption. Overseas, conservative Christians preside over a spiraling boom-bust adoption market in countries where people are poor and regulations weak, and where hefty adoption fees provide lots of incentive to increase the “supply” of adoptable children, recruiting “orphans” from intact but vulnerable families.
The Child Catchers is a shocking exposé of what the adoption industry has become and how it got there, told through deep investigative reporting and the heartbreaking stories of individuals who became collateral damage in a market driven by profit and, now, pulpit command.
Anyone who seeks to adopt—of whatever faith or no faith, and however well-meaning—is affected by the evangelical adoption movement, whether they know it or not. The movement has shaped the way we think about adoption, the language we use to discuss it, the places we seek to adopt from, and the policies and laws that govern the process. In The Child Catchers, Kathryn Joyce reveals with great sensitivity and empathy why, if we truly care for children, we need to see more clearly.
“Joyce broadens the understanding of adoption's conundrums, not only within the United States, but also internationally, with deep investigations of children from Liberia, Ethiopia, Korea, Rwanda, Haiti and China…Groundbreaking investigative and explanatory reporting.”
Anthea Butler, University of Pennsylvania
“Kathryn Joyce’s book The Child Catchers is a compelling, meticulously researched, and insightful dissection of Conservative Christians and their participation in the international adoption complex. Joyce unmasks this new fertile ‘mission field’ of children, defined by a labyrinth of adoption agencies, organizations, and activists. By unmasking the truth behind many of these ‘adoptions’ of children with loving but impoverished families, Joyce gives voice to the children hurt by this neo-colonial Christian mission. The Child Catchers is an important must-read in order to understand the business of adoption, and the pain that can befall the child’s biological family, the child and, at times, the adoptive family.”
Jeff Sharlet, bestselling author of The Family and C Street
“The Child Catchers takes us for a fast and frightening ride down a road to hell that’s paved with ‘good intentions,’ yes, but also with willful ignorance and worse, outright deception. Joyce’s story—that of a new, religiously driven ‘baby scoop’ that amounts to a massive redistribution of children from the poor to the affluent—requires no sensationalism. The facts, presented here with care and fair-mindedness, are terrifying enough. And Joyce’s analysis, calm and powerfully perceptive, is devastating. May this book stand as a landmark work of investigative journalism.”
Jessica Valenti, founder of Feministing.com and author of Purity Myth and Why Have Kids
“Kathryn Joyce’s investigation into the rise of the Christian adoption movement is both fascinating and disturbing. In chronicling this mission to ‘save’ children from their home countries and perceived hardships, Joyce moves beyond the feel-good headlines to reveal a truth that most American media seems to have missed. The Child Catchers fills an important gap in the national conversation not just about adoption—but about imperialism and feminism as well.”
“Groundbreaking investigative and explanatory reporting”
“This intricate investigation of adoption ethics and religion is an incisive, evenhanded corrective to the view of child adoption as benign and salvific….Grim but now downbeat, Joyce’s reporting also indicates signs of hope for reform….This exemplary study deserves a wide audience among all readers involved with adoption, from policymakers to prospective adoptive families.”
CHAPTER 1: The Baby Scoop Era: U.S. Adoption History CHAPTER 2: Shotgun Adoption: Crisis Pregnancy Centers CHAPTER 3: Sent Away: Modern-Day Maternity Homes CHAPTER 4: “Adoption is War”: The Growth of Orphan Theology CHAPTER 5: Haiti and the Orphan Rescue Market CHAPTER 6: Broken Open Adoptions CHAPTER 7: The National Council for Adoption: Lobbying for Classroom Adoptions CHAPTER 8: Utah’s “Baby Warehouse”: State Laws and Shopping Around CHAPTER 9: Paternity Rights: Putative Father Registries CHAPTER 10: “Adoption Seekers Will Be Banned”
CHAPTER 11: Adoption Reformers
Posted May 30, 2014
NOT ONE STATEMENT IN THIS BOOKS IS DOCUMENTED TO DETAIL- NOT ONE!
I was very anxious to read The Child Catchers because so much has been in the media about child trafficking. The PREFACE
begins describing conversations with "Sharon". Much of the content is descriptive and the author's opinion, so I read the author’s
statements as such. As I continued reading the first chapter, NEW LIFE, however, I became suspicious- the author quoted a variety
of individuals in positions of authority (Secretary Janet Napolitano, Bethany Christian Services, CNN, Haiti's prime minister,
Jean-Max Bellerive, the Wall Street Journal, UNICEF, New Life Children's Refuge, the Southern Baptist Convention representatives
the Human Science Research Council....on and on. I wanted to refer to the exact sources of these people/organizations but not
one was footnoted in detail....not one. Sure, there is a NOTES section (pp. 293ff) but this section is merely an extended
bibliography, i.e., not one page number or specific source location is given. I wanted to read the exact detail of several sources
to verify not only the quoted materials but also the context of the source, but without success. NONE of the sources are detailed.
Most readers do not have time to read an entire source included in the (foot) notes, so that's why page numbers are used-- to get
to the source quickly and efficiently. (This is a research convention.) If a reader cares about sources and detailed documentation
then I conclude that the NOTES are useless and you may be very frustrated. But, if your believe the author outright (just because
she writes "it”) then you might enjoy the book. Solid research gives the details. This book does not. In this sense, the author
was inexcusably sloppy not including conventional notes. Why did she make this choice? So, the reader is left to conclude that
you must believe her every quote or source, unless you have time to read the whole of each bibliographical source in the notes
and/or bibliography. There is no excuse for this especially from a seasoned journalist (didn't she learn about the importance of
documenting here sources?) It certainly draws suspicion about the content or the thrust of the book's position. To this extent, I
am VERY VERY disappointed reading this book, and if it survives to a second edition I hope the author will take the time to document
properly each quote and source. Then, I would look forward to reading it.
Footnote: I am an adoptive father. I am not an evangelical Xian or a believer of any faith. I don't have an agenda. I just want to
know what the sources are when I read “research.”