United Church reflects on guidelines for ethical adoption

Published On: June 14, 2018

At its March 2018 meeting, after reviewing a report of Theologies of Adoption from the Theology and Inter-Church Inter-Faith Committee, the Executive of the General Council adopted the report as an official statement of the United Church on the subject of adoption.

The committee had been directed in 2013 to research and create a statement on adoption. In doing so, it reviewed dozens of personal stories covering a wide spectrum of experience. “Some stories told of individuals and communities turning to non-traditional methods of family creation by bringing together families of choice when biological families did not, or could not, offer what they needed. Other stories reflected a reality of coercion, control, and loss.” The committee looked in particular into the church’s history operating maternity homes, and its involvement in the Sixties Scoop that saw many Indigenous children removed from their culture, community, and family. It examined the diverse motivations to have or not have children, broad understandings of family, including those of the LGBTQT2+ communities, and the rights of children in every family to be cared for with love.

In the biblical story, Moses was adopted by the daughter of the pharaoh who was seeking his death, and subsequently reclaimed his Jewish heritage. The report uses this story to illustrate “multiple perspectives of adoption: a context of oppression and genocide; adults working together to support a child; the crossing of cultures; and the search for identity. The story describes love, sacrifice, loss, and gain.”

Above all, the committee saw adoption as a complex issue:

The Committee has been struck by the complexity of adoption. For some—whether an adoptee, an adoptive parent, or a parent who placed a child for adoption—the experience has been largely positive. For others, that experience has been painful and negative, and for still others, mixed. Over the past century significant changes in societal attitudes regarding the concept of “the family,” not to mention cultural differences in how various communities understand “family,” add to the complexity.

The report concludes by offering a vision for ethical adoption that will “honour, nurture, and value children.”


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