If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you know I do not typically use this forum as a soapbox. Instead, I use this blog as an opportunity to raise awareness to critical issues facing vulnerable children and families around the world. Today, however, I am driven to address a recent book that calls into question the commitment and practices of Bethany Christian Services and other reputable Christian organizations in protecting vulnerable children. Given the incorrect and very poorly utilized sources, wildly extrapolated viewpoints presented as broad brush fact, and misleading statements within the book, I am compelled to correct these false claims and accusations.
Since it was founded nearly 70 years ago, Bethany has been committed to helping vulnerable children and families: In 2012, the organization served more than 77,000 children across the globe. While Bethany is often identified as the largest adoption agency in the U.S., a great deal of the work we do worldwide is, in fact, to keep families together through family preservation services. In every country where Bethany works, we are strong advocates for keeping children with their biological families. We have committed significant resources to strengthen families through the delivery of social services in a variety of countries. Bethany believes in the importance of operating at the highest standard of integrity and best practice in every service area. This includes adoption.
In the book, which I will not name, the author questions whether increases in child trafficking can be attributed to evangelical adoption agencies and their pursuit of finding homes for orphaned children. It is a sad truth that many children are exploited in this world. There are people who are taking children from families and trafficking children through orphanages, or entities that are making monetary “contributions” to disreputable orphanages in exchange for “adoptable children.” We at Bethany find these practices reprehensible and have dedicated much focus and a great deal of resources toward working and speaking out against this abuse. One example of that is our Safe Not Sold campaign against child trafficking.
As an accredited adoption and child welfare agency, Bethany adheres to the highest standards to ensure that we are always doing what is in the best interest of the child. We also work diligently to serve those children who need help the most—older children, children with special placement needs, and sibling groups. To prevent and eliminate child trafficking, it is critical to work through an accredited agency to ensure that children being served are protected from all types of exploitation.
I applaud the author of the book for attempting to raise awareness for the issue of child trafficking and abusive practice(s) surrounding international adoption. It is an issue that deserves more attention throughout the U.S. media and support from organizations around the world to eliminate. However, I take umbrage at her decision to blanket condemnation over all Christian organizations, and not point out quality social service agencies (Christian or not) who are working on the frontlines to combat child trafficking in countries, to protect and preserve families, and to provide integrity-driven adoptions. Bethany is such an organization. That said, nothing will deter Bethany from continuing to protect the world’s vulnerable children and families with all of our resources. A world where every child has a loving family is our purpose and why we exist as an organization: We do that by protecting and enhancing the lives of vulnerable children and families.