A couple of years ago, there was a Law and Order: SVU episode about a rich couple who adopted a boy from Russia who turned out to have behavioral problems. The woman “re-homed” the boy to a “Christian couple” she met online, who turned out to be child pornographers. At the time, I thought that this episode was a bit over the top, but then I heard this story and realized that this sort of thing probably happens more often than I’d like to think:
The above story is so twisted and horrific that I don’t even think Law and Order or any other fictional program or book could have come up with it; self-described “pro-life” and “small government” Republican legislator (who also runs a “Christian” preschool that receives state and federal money) adopts three sisters who had already been in numerous homes and suffered various traumas, decides he can’t handle them for whatever reason, and then gives them away to some random guy, who turns out to be a convicted sex offender. While the oldest girl is being re-abused by her new “father,” the previous one is pocketing money from the government that is meant to be used by foster families. Did I mention that Rep. Harris also tried to propose a bill that would weaken the requirements for sprinkler systems in public schools? I guess his philosophy must be that the faster kids burn up, the quicker they get to heaven (unless they’re Jewish, atheist, or otherwise not “Bible-believing Christians”).
The other day, Rep. Harris had a press conference in which he tried to explain his side of the story, but he came off as being self-serving and unconcerned with the terrible consequences of his actions:
When asked why he handed over his daughters (who were legally his responsibility) to a sex offender without the knowledge of the authorities, Harris quoted the Bible, “No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.” He then followed up with, “You don’t know what we’ve been through this past year. You have no idea what my family has been through. I don’t care what the people of Arkansas think about me. I don’t care if I lose my position. I care what my wife thinks about me, and I care what my three sons think about me.” Clearly, Rep. Harris’ primary concern is Rep. Harris, not the child who was raped because of his irresponsibility.
The previous foster family of the girls in question have made statements that directly contradict Harris’ narrative, including his claims that the girls were violent and that he didn’t know the extent of the girls’ emotional problems:
Aside from the staggering levels of hypocrisy from a self-proclaimed “pro-life Republican,” this episode reminds me of exactly what’s wrong with the evangelical enthusiasm for adoption. For some background information on this topic, please see here:
The above links note that there really aren’t that many “true orphans” (i.e., children with no mother, father, or relatives willing to care for them) out there, whether domestically or internationally. The demand is highest for healthy white infants, and there simply aren’t that many of these types of children up for adoption. If you want to adopt through the foster care system, chances are that you will be getting an older child who has already gone through a significant amount of trauma. The same is true for international adoptions, where the difficulties are compounded by the child having to learn a new language and assimilate into a new culture. Simply put, I believe that people like Rep. Harris and his wife think that because they’re white, Christian, and have money that they were entitled to adopt the girls against the suggestions of DHS staff and that Jesus could solve whatever problems the children might have had. If the Harris family had the girls in secular therapy (none of this “nouthetic counseling” nonsense), I’d be shocked. It’s the same entitled mentality that we see in the Christian homeschooling culture, where the belief is that good white Christians don’t need government oversight of their activities, even if they are engaging in educational neglect.
In the South, many people operate under the mistaken belief that being an ethical person requires you to be religious, or to be more specific, necessitates that you be a “Bible-believing Christian.” While Justin Harris is an extreme example of religious conservative malfeasance, he is hardly unusual. Any and every kind of evil has and can be justified by some Bible verse or something some long-dead pope, rabbi, iman, or preacher once said. The only thing being a “Bible-believing Christian” means is that you have a high regard for the Bible; it says nothing about whether you have a similarly high regard for your fellow human beings. The same pro-lifers who will fight tooth and nail for “unborn human life” have no problem with letting “born human life” starve, languish in poverty, or die from easily treatable illnesses. If Justin Harris is indicative of the high moral caliber one can expect from “Bible-believing pro-life Christians,” then it goes without saying that Christianity can’t die out fast enough.