Every year the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) presents the annual Angels in Adoption AwardsTM, an award for those, who according to CCAI, made a contribution to the promotion of adoption of children from the American foster care system and other "orphans" world wide.
While presenting adoption as nothing but a good cause, CCAI is in effect one of the few industry lobbying groups in Washington that actually consists of active members of congress. It is a well known practice that politicians, after leaving office, join lobbying firms to further the interests of particular industries. CCAI is exceptional in that it looks out for the interests of an industry, while its members are still being in office.
Much more than a good cause, adoption is a largely unregulated business that offers jobs for ten thousands of people working for thousands of organizations directly or indirectly involved in the placement of children. It also provides children for families that usually are affluent and likely to be voting constituents. For legislators, there is much to be gained by making adoption as easy a process as possible, while politically there is not much to be gained by promoting stricter regulation.
The incestuous relationship between the adoption industry and members of congress, has led to the creation of the annual Angels in Adoption AwardsTM, which are given to more than a hundred individuals, couples and organizations, every year. The awards are presented during a gala, taking place at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington DC, sponsored by the Freddie Mac Foundation, corporations like Chevron, SUPERVALU, Dow Chemical and adoption agencies such as Holt International Children's Services and Bethany Christian Services.
Many of the recipients of the award are couples that adopted children, some of which after having opened their house to many foster children first, but others mainly for adopting through one of the agencies that sponsor the Angels of Adoption AwardsTM.
Of course CCAI not only honors the customers of the industry, but also the businesses involved in Adoption.
Long time sponsor, Holt International Children's Services is a recurrent recipient of the award, through several volunteers and such employees as: Susan Soon-Keum Cox, Lynn Sims, Patricia Keltie, Rose McBride, Todd Kwapisz and Yue Jian Chen and through its co-founder Bertha Holt. America's largest adoption agency Bethany Christian Services, also a long time sponsor of the event, was awarded through such employees as Belinda Geertsma, Renee Eggebraaten, Peggy Lowe, Joann E. King, Pat Wheeler and Sandra McLaughlin and its branch office in Fredericksburg and in Hampton Roads. The latter even received the award twice, once in 2003 and once in 2008.
There are several other adoption agencies directly or indirectly honored with the award, but by far the largest adoption industry related group of recipients are adoption attorneys: Albert G. Lirhus, David J. Radis, Donald C. Cofsky, Edith H. Morris, Gene Kelley, Herbert A. Brail, Herbert D. Friedman, Irene Steffas, James Fletcher Thompson, Jeanine Castagna. Jeanne Tate, Jodi Sue Rutstein, Larry S Jenkins, Marc D. Widelock, Martin W. Bauer, Michael Shorstein, Michele Jordan, Michele Zavos. Seth A. Grob. Stephen W. Hayes. Steven B. Sacharow, Steven M. Kirsh and Thomas Taneffare only some of the adoption attorneys that have received the Angel in Adoption Award TM.
All of these people received the award merely for having run an adoption associated business. After all, adoption attorneys work for profit and many, if not all of them, are very much involved in domestic infant adoption. This line of business has nothing to do with helping children from foster care and "orphans" world wide to find families. For attorneys, domestic adoption is a far more lucrative form of adoption than either inter-country adoption or foster care adoption.
At least five Angels in Adoptions were awarded to people working for anti-abortion pregnancy counseling centers, Lisa Gould (Ark-La-Tex Crisis Pregnancy Center), Tami Wessen (Riverside Life Services), Tracy Okus (Women’s Pregnancy Center of Ocala), Barbara Beavers (Center for Pregnancy Choices) and Cheryl Bauman (Crisis Pregnancy Outreach).
Anti-abortion pregnancy counseling centers have been a growing phenomenon since their invention in the early 1970's and are one of the main suppliers of infants for the adoption industry. With more than 1100 anti-abortion pregnancy counseling centers, Heartbeat International is one of the largest supply chains of infants. Three out of the five aforementioned, Angel in Adoption receiving centers, is an affiliate of Heartbeat International, and so is the subject of this article, Bethany Christian Services.
Like many adoption agencies, Bethany Christian Services started as an amateur run organization when in 1944, Mary DeBoer and Margueritte Bonnema wanted to establish a Christian residence for homeless children. Today Bethany Christian Services has 81 offices in 31 states and has international presence in 17 countries. Their services include abstinence education, adoption, foster care, pregnancy counseling, home studies and post adoption services. With that they cover the whole spectrum of child placement services. In that sense, Bethany Christian Services is the Walmart of adoption agencies, the one-stop shop for all Christian child placement services.
For pregnant women seeking help, this one-stop shop is in many ways also a one-way ticket towards adoption, that eventually leads to the relinquishment of a child and to the permanent placement of that newborn with a Bethany approved Christian family.
When facing pregnancy there are in principle three options: parenting, having an abortion, relinquishing the child for adoption. Of these three options, Bethany Christian Services and its supplying network of pregnancy counseling centers, abortion is simply not an option, and parenting is often strongly discouraged. Through the tactics of moralistic and financial pressure, women are effectively coerced into choosing adoption, thereby artificially creating "orphans" for Christian couples to adopt.
The creation of "orphans" and the constant inflation of the meaning of the word "orphan" to enlarge the pool of adoptable children, is part and parcel of the Christian adoption wave that has been rolling over the United States in the last decade. Bethany Christian Service is at the epicenter of this orphan crusade movement. It is the most prominent member of the National Council for Adoption (NCFA) and despite it's deceptive name, nothing more than a membership organization of Christian adoption agencies, with an influential voice in Washington DC.
Bethany Christian Services is also a prominent member of the Christian Alliance for Orphans, a coalition of Christian adoption agencies, foster care agencies, orphan care organizations and churches, supported by Campus Crusade for Christ and Focus on the Family. The Christian Alliance for Orphans and its programs Hope for orphans, Faces of the Forgotten, Cry of the Orphan and Orphan Sundays, aggressively market adoption through churches. Bethany Christian Services plays a major role in this movement, sponsoring training sessions to further spread the adoption gospel, motivating Christians to not only adopt children, but to adopt as many children as possible.
To generate the number of adoptable children for this market expansion, the term "orphan" has undergone serious inflation over the years. Its original meaning related to children whose parents had both died. Under the influence of Christian adoption, the word now relates to every child that either doesn't live permanently with its family, or has lost at least one parent. This definition creates the illusion there are hundreds of millions of children screaming to be adopted, helping adoption agencies to expand their client base. In reality, the demand for adoptable children has for more than a century exceeded the supply of adoptable children. Therefore, the inflation of the term "orphan" has two effects, it generates more demand in an already overheated market and it puts pressure on policy makers to make adoption practices even more lenient than they already are, enlarging the pool of adoptable children.
Through its close ties to organizations like CCAI, NCFA, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, Joint Council on International Children’s Services, Bethany Christian Services is in a position to influence political decisions that directly benefit their business. They have already received millions of dollars in grants from the federal government over the past decade. This grant money has gone toward operational purposes as well as embryo adoptions and abstinence-only education (a tool to create more unplanned pregnancies). Bethany Christian Services stands even more to win when congress puts the Families for Orphans Act into law. The current bill reads like a pipe dream for all adoption agencies and has strong support of Bethany Christian Services, who indirectly contributed to the draft of the bill, introduced by CCAI chair Mary Landrieu.
This brings us back to the incestuous relationship between US congress and the adoption industry of which Bethany Christian Services is the most prominent party. It is not uncommon for an industry to write bills for members of congress to introduce. It is not uncommon for former politicians to be involved in lobbying for particular industries, but it unheard of that an industry writes its own bills, has an organization of active members of congress lobby for it and receives awards from those very members of congress mainly for running a business.
To raise a voice against adoption propaganda and the self congratulatory practices of CCAI's annual Angels in Adoption AwardsTM, Pound Pup Legacy initiated the Annual Demons of Adoption in 2007. This year there were many "worthy" nominees, but members and visitors of PPL's website decided Bethany Christian Services to be most deserving to receive the award. Bethany Christian Services has over the years used coercive tactics on pregnant women to obtain infants for adoption and has used its influence, both in the US and abroad to create "orphans" to further expand their business.
Hopefully this year's award will help raise awareness about the predatory practices of the adoption industry and the incestuous relationship between the industry and lawmakers that have the task to regulate that industry. One day it may no longer be necessary to call out agencies on their practices. One day the Demons of Adoption awards may no longer have to be presented anymore, but until that day, PPL will keep a close watch on the adoption industry and annually put one of its members in a spotlight they would rather avoid.
Bethany Christian Services is hereby Demon of Adoption 2009 and is given the exclusive right to carry the banner of this year's edition on their website.