Moses, the ultimate adoptee…right?

When Christians talk to me about adoption, they often cite Moses as the ultimate example of how awesome adoption is. I am always…shocked…by this line of reasoning, because I have read the Moses story a lot, and have yet to figure out how it fits with our modern day version of adoption.

So let’s recap the story, shall we?

Evil Egyptian Pharoah decides to kill all Israelite baby boys. Moses is born, but instead of being killed, his loving mama puts him a basket and floats him on the river. An ancient “safe haven hospital” drop-box, if you will. But loving mama doesn’t just leave him there to die, no, she has his older sister Miriam hide in the bushes and make sure he is okay. Because, after all, they dropped him off at what appears to be a strategic location and not the Egyptian-dumpster.

Evil pharoah’s lovely princess daughter went to the river to bathe and finds a helpless baby floating there, and takes compassion on it. Note this princess wasn’t looking for a baby, she just happened upon it (another point against modern adoption as a service to provide babies for people who want them, versus finding homes for children who need them.

Older sister Miriam sees princess with baby, approaches, and says she knows of a good wet nurse (Moses’ own loving mama) and asks the princess if she wants the services. Princess accepts because Gerber formula doesn’t exist.

Loving mama raises Moses in the home of Pharoah. Let’s say she was his wet nurse for the average weaning of 4-6 years. Maybe Moses wasn’t allowed to call her mama, but I am guessing he knew, even if he had to keep it secret. He knew he was in Israelite, which is shown later in the story.

At some point loving mama probably had to be separated from Moses as he was weaned and she couldn’t out herself to the Pharoah as his mother. Moses grows up, sees Pharoah treat “his people” poorly as slaves and ends up killing one of his adoptive clan people an Egyptian) and then hightails it out of town. He then hears from God Almighty and goes back, to rescue the Israelites…his biological family.

Plagues ensue, he helps curse his adoptive family and death comes to firstborns on the land in retribution for what the Egyptians did to the Israelites. He is reunited with his biological family and leads them to safety. Kinda the ultimate adoption-reunion story, and could be made into a Lifetime Movie.

And kind of a modern-day-adoption nightmare. I mean, how well would it go over in today’s media for an adopted kid to kill their adoptive family and then go back and live with their biological relatives as a hero?

So, perhaps, Moses should stop being held up as the gold standard for modern adoption.

Thoughts?

Christianity and Adoption

The Bible talks about adoption, but does so from a VERY different cultural context than what we live in today.

For example:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look
after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being
polluted by the world. -James 1:21

Wow, this verse is great! Instead of dogma, lets take care of people…women who’ve lost their husbands, children who don’t have parents. This is an idea that I can get behind! It is loving our neighbor in action.

However, how this verse, and verses like it are twisted is mind-boggling. Because taking care of widows (why isn’t there a huge push for THAT here, is it because people are obsessed with procuring babies?), and orphans (parentless children) in a biblical context would be about keeping those children in families and tribes of people where they would be raised to know their identity and have their needs met.

Caring for these orphans, did not mean shipping them off halfway around the world or the country to be raised by strangers.

A few years ago Madonna adopted internationally, from a country whose idea of orphanages were the same as boarding schools (but for the poor). This girl, Mercy, had family who was willing to take care of her but was TOO POOR to do so. They opposed the idea of her being taken from her homeland and raised without knowing who they are (a common adoption process, both domestic AND international). What was the cost of keeping Mercy with her family, going to school, through age 18? 5,000. Imagine, Madonna, with her millions, could have paid that amount A HUNDRED times over, and Mercy would have been able to grow up with her family. To me, keeping families together, was what this whole concept was about. And not domestic infant adoption like it is practiced today (a blog for another day, perhaps, but you would probably be SHOCKED to see the amount of money that changes hands in domestic infant adoption).

The verse, in my opinion, is the spirit of taking care of others, of family preservation. And while there are children who desperately need to be raised in a family, because their family cannot (for whatever the reason), our contemporary practice of adoption does NOT keep with that spirit.

Never take advantage of any widow or orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, you can be sure that I will hear their cry.

Exodus 22:22-23