Adoption stories from hell, literally

So this awful thing happened:

U.S. adoptive mother guilty of homicide in death of Ethiopian girl

And I had just been reading this Mother Jones article as I was waiting for a medical appointment today. Similar to today’s news about the Ethiopian adoptee, MoJo’s piece reflects on evangelical Christians adopting loads of children from Liberia. I mean seriously 5-6 at a time. The article goes into a lot of horrifying details about this particular community’s trend towards ‘saving’ children from Liberia.

As a parent who certainly has picked up a book or two to glean some insight or nugget to help point me in what I feel is the right direction as a mama, this part struck me as particularly disturbing. An intern describes her experience working at a magazine associated with these Christian adoptions from Liberia:

“I had only been there about a day when I realized that things weren’t really right,” she said. For one, she saw the Allisons and the Campbells refer to To Train Up a Child, a book by fundamentalist preacher Michael Pearl and his wife, Debi, that advocates strict physical discipline starting when children are less than a year old. The book, which has sold nearly 700,000 copies, promises that “the rod” (the Pearls suggest flexible plumbing supply line) will bring harmony to a family in chaos, creating “whineless” children who have learned to submit. “Somehow, after eight or ten licks, the poison is transformed into gushing love and contentment,” they write. “The world becomes a beautiful place. A brand new child emerges.”

This same book is referred to in the recent death of the Ethiopian adoptee girl.

When I read stories like this, it reminds me what a huge spectrum there is in the world of adoption, and parenting. I try very hard not to judge other parents. Obviously what these folks have done is completely inexcusable. But there are so many choices, so many fine and thick lines to cross. I’m on the Portland Mama’s FB group, and even in a self-selected group like that there’s such a range of opinion on how to raise children, how to be good parents. Reading stories about abuses like these make me incredibly sad, but also make me feel very lucky.