Be warned… This is a rant…I follow a lot of blogs. I love blogs. And the beauty of following blogs is that you can pick the ones that you like. I follow a lot of adoptive families, vegans, friends and just really funny people. And occasionally these topic minded people divert from their usual topics and talk about something else. I follow a vegan chef that talks WAY to much about her baby. I follow another vegan/health person who often talks about photography (boring) and travel (awesome). But one woman I follow, who writes about healthy food, feeding kids healthy food, parenting (she is one of those cry every time her child does something precious kinda moms) and today she decided to say something about adoption. The title of her blog is “The Great Rescue”. She talks about helping her friends fund raise for their Ethiopian adoption. I could not even be excited about how much money the family raised, I was stuck on the word rescue. I sent her a very polite comment which said

““rescue” is not a great word to be used when talking about adoption or orphans….it implies that this child should be grateful and therefore have nothing to grieve or morn and we know adoption starts from loss. This child did not ask to be abandoned or to leave his country or culture. Is it necessary for many children? YES! . Is it a wonderful option for families and children, absolutely! Adoption is not about rescuing, but about love and family . I hate to be that person,… I work in adoption and train families and professionals and we spend a lot of time talking about this “rescue” idea and if you ask any adult adoptee, they will cringe at the word and idea.”

To which she replied
“Hey Sarah, I totally respect your opinion and am so grateful for the work you do! Unfortunately, I do think the mission for Heath is one of rescue, because statistically, if he remains in a life of institutionalization for much longer, his life will be cut short. However, if he is adopted, he will have a family and the chance to thrive and survive into a much more hopeful life expectancy. If you haven’t watched the documentary “Ukraine’s Forgotten Children” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ud97310H0YA), I ensure you, after a viewing, you’ll understand why I used the word “rescue.” But again, no disrespect intended and I thank you so much for all you do for so many!”

To which I replied:
“I have seen the documentary as well as many many more. I have been to Ukriane’s orphanages as well as those in China, and Ethiopia. I live and breathe this stuff every day and work along side adoption therapists and and other social work professionals. I work with children who were adopted and come in struggling with this word “rescue”. Technically, are we recusing children from an impoverished life? Yes. Will his life be better? Yes. In regards to love, family, meeting basic needs, opportunities, yes, he has the potential for a wonderful life. But from the child’s perspective: the word RESCUE implies a lot for him and that he needs to be grateful. It unconsciously tells this child that he should not be grieving the incredible losses in his life. It also can show disrespect for his culture, and family of origin. I am sure we will not agree on this, but I feel I need to be an advocate for the children and if I can challenge people to think about these issues, I have done my job.

You are a great blogger, I follow you daily and know many people do. How many people will read your blog and think about adoption and orphans? Because of you people are eating healthier, doing fun things with their children, laughing, cooking, traveling, praying. It is an amazing opportunity to make the world a better place and I appreciate your work. Just like you want to educate people on all of these topics and want to see people be healthy; physically, emotionally and spiritually, I want people to truly know and understand adoption from the perspective of the child. You have no idea who I am and that I could be one of those totally fanatic people (you know the ones who find out your a vegan and freak out about “Where do you get your protein!?!” or they justify all the reasons that meat and dairy are important and wonderful things. But I am just a regular 30something mid west mom and social work who tends to get a little worked up about my many passions. Blessings!”

To which she did not respond. I know, I should have just left it alone, but I didn’t. So I posed the question on facebook “What do you all think about the word rescue when it comes to orphans?”
To which I got the following comments and my hope in humanity was restored:

-“I understand why she used it (by her response to your comment) but it is not a word I would use in regards to adoption. Reminds me of the “saving orphans” phrase I also do not like.”

-“Wow!!!!! I can’t believe she sent you a video link as if you’re a complete moron on the subject. Well you already know my take. I’m with ya 100% and thought you handled it politely and professionally.”

-“I can honestly say that although I do think about where and what our sweet boy would be if he were still in China, his being mine has changed my life so much for the better, that I feel he’s “rescued” me in so many ways. What better way to learn what love is than to make a child who doesn’t love you your own and then “showing” him what love is. Then with time and trust he loves you back and it’s the most beautiful thing in the world!
about an hour ago”

-“I read the link and I agree with you. I have heard the term “rescue” used before from a person adopting a child and I cringed. It insinuates (to me at least) that you are doing this child some BIG favor and should be treated as such. Like, “look at me…look at what a loving, caring person I am” ….instead of look at this child and what a blessing it is that I get to have this child in my life. I think most good adoptive parents would say it was the child that rescued them, not the other way around.”

-“I agree with you, Sarah. I cringed at reading “The Great Rescue” — that would be insulting to birth parents (many of whom are NOT putting their child up for adoption by choice, but out of love for their child). My daughter’s birth mother very clearly wanted us to relay the message to our daughter that she put her up for adoption because she dearly loved that baby, and was unable to provide for her at that time for various reasons. You are right — this author was not sensitive at all in regards to the loss and grief the birth family and the child are going through/will go through. It was like she wanted to be a “hero” and get praise for being this “good person” who was helping this poor helpless child. Her article seemed very “surface” to me — no depth or much thought beyond beyond being a “hero.” She needs to take your class! :)”

-“Well, you probably know my take on it, after my response to my “running a mission” LOL! It would never cross my mind to say I saved or rescued my children. Yes, life changing or life altering, but….in reality, they saved and rescued me!” (someone asked this parent of three Chinese children if she was running a mission…)

-“I agree with you – NOT a good phrase and NOT reflective of the philosophy of most adoptive families I know. This blogger, if she is an adoptive parent, is the minority and is the kind that gives adoptive parents a reputation for “self-righteous humanitarianism”.”

-“As an adopted person, I find the phrase insulting and somewhat objectifying”

-“I think adoption is the result of the providence of God, just like biological birth.”

-“It’s so different than she describes. What is that sense of rescue going to become in 5-10-15 years?”

And I only posted that question 1 hour ago!
I am sure there are people out there who disagree with me, and, well, I guess I am setting myself up for criticism. But I am talking about something I know about and researched and educate on and am paid to do and… well you get the drift. If I decide to share my thoughts on Yoga, or marathon running, feel free to correct me.
P.S. If you want more on this topic check out my dear friend Valerie’s blog on the topic: Self Righteous Humanism

Who are we to think we are capable of rescuing a person from their life…?


4 thoughts on ““Rescued”

  1. Nicely done, Sara. You are right: who are we to think that we, in our frailty, can rescue anyone? Insomuch as human adoption is an earthly picture of the biblical doctrine of adoption, there is an element of newness and redemption from an old life less desirable. However, that is AFTER the point at which a child has already lost his or her birth family that the analogy applies. The very idea that one might stand in need of adoption (which this person termed rescue) inherently implies that there’s something to mourn. We should all be grateful for the family God has given us. That isn’t applicable to only adopted children because of some strange view of what adoption means. This applies to the kind of gratitude ALL of us should have for the blessings we’ve been given. Has Christ rescued me? One hundred percent yes. Do I have the power to rescue? No. I have the ability because of the affluent nation in which I’ve been born to humbly provide a loving and stable home for a broken and hurting child…a home supportive enough that he will be able to work through his hurts with the lens of God’s Word and love. This is not rescue. Rescue is to “deliver one from confinement….”. The word deliver means “to hand over”. We have not handed our son over to anyone, nor do we intend to. I respectfully suggest a stronger command of the English language for said blogger.

  2. I LOVE that you corrected this blogger, and I hope that many of her readers saw your comments. Most people just don’t give a lot of thought to how complicated adoption really is. I had to correct someone a couple weeks ago who was talking about her friend’s teenage daughter. She was talking about how her friend sacrificed everything to bring her home from China and give her a good life, but that the girl was so ungrateful. Basically implying that her friend rescued the girl. I had to point out that her friend’s daughter did not choose to lose her birth family and birth culture, nor should she be expected to treat her adoptive mother like some sort of savior. Most teenagers act ungrateful to their parents at some point. She is displaying normal teenage behavior, and it’s wrong to shame her by implying that she owes something to her mother in exchange for her adoption. You “rescue” a dog or cat from the pound. You don’t “rescue” a child. I also cringe now when people say they “adopted” their pets. I may be alone in that one though…

  3. Thanks for this post, Sara! A few kind hearts need a little educating on this issue! : ) John just asked our kids how they would feel about adopting a little brother at dinner tonight?! Hmmm…that was random!?! Made me go on your blog which I haven’t done in months…keep up the advocating for His kids!! Great post!

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