Conservative Adoption

Tonight, a look at the impact America's 65 million Evangelical Christians could have on the lives of 115,000 foster children in this country waiting to be adopted. This week, leading evangelicals, including Pastor Rick Warren, are holding a summit on the issue, but there are some serious potential complications

Chris and Sarah Padbury, an evangelical couple who couldn't have children of their own, have adopted four children and recently took in a fifth foster child.

"Our agenda comes from this Bible verse 'religion of God our Father considers pure and faultless to look after widows and orphans in their distress and not be polluted by the world'," said Chris Padbury of Project 127.

Padbury, who runs an organization that helps other evangelical couples adopt, will be at the so-called orphan-care summit this week.

"Some evangelical leaders in America have decided that adopting children should be part of their mission," said Adam Pertman or Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. "Perhaps responding to criticism - you care a lot about kids before their born as an anti-abortion argument but what happens once there here on earth. So what they are doing is telling their flocks lets start taking care of those kids through adoption."

Warren, one of America's most influential evangelicals, is helping organize the summit. Warren has been critical in the past of his fellow christian conservatives for focusing too much on abortion and homosexuality, but he insists the orphan care initiative is not political.

"I would say some people will look at this summit and say 'Ok, now they're overreacting, they're trying to expand the agenda.' This agenda has always been there. People have always cared for orphans. Kay and I would have adopted long ago if we weren't overseas half our time caring for orphans overseas," Warren said.

But there are potential cultural complications when evangelicals, who are predominantly white and socially conservative, take in foster children, who are predominantly minority. Can evangelicals impose their religion? What do they do with gay or lesbian children?

"The parents need to be aware that they are not getting a blank slate. They are getting a real live human being with needs, desires, history family connections, racial identification and maybe gender identification - they come whole!" Pertman said.

"By sharing your life with them you do share with them who you are all about, but ultimately its a decision that each child makes on their own about what faith they want to do or what their sexual orientation will be. That is decision to make. Our chief goal is to love the kids where they are," Padbury said.

"One of the questions that people often ask of religious people or people of faith who are adopting or doing foster care, is are they gonna coerce these children to believe like they believe. And of course, as Christians, we believe that grace and faith are choice. You can't force faith on anybody. We do not believe in coercion, we do believe in exposure," Warren said.


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