Don’t Adopt Pat Robertson’s View on Orphans

Pat Robertson recently answered a viewer question by regrettably stating:

A man doesn’t want to take on the United Nations. This woman has all these various children, a blended family, I mean what is it? You don’t know what problems there are; I’m serious I’ve got a dear friend, adopted a child from an orphanage down in Colombia, child had brain damage, you know child grew up weird. And you just never know what’s been done to a child before you get that child, what kind of sexual abuse, what kind of cruelty, what kind of food deprivation, So you’re not a dog because you don’t want to take on that responsibility. You don’t have to take on someone else’s problems. You really don’t, you can go help people, you can minister to people, we minister to orphans all over the world, thousands of them. We love orphans. We love helping people. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I going to take all the orphans around the world into my home.

It should be pointed out, that despite the title of the YouTube video, Robertson does not say, “Don’t Adopt Children.” I also think that he is correct in expressing the idea that no man should feel obligated to date a woman who has adopted. Adoption is not for everyone. No one should enter into it lightly and I can’t overemphasize the importance of a thorough education on orphan care and the history of any orphan in one’s care.

That being said, there’s little to be emulated in Robertson’s attitude toward adoption. Adopting orphans is a sacrifice. It requires that we lay down our hopes for genetically engineering the perfect family. Yes, orphans come from traumatic situations with a great many unknowns. Yes, they may be abused or neglected. Yes, they may have brain damage. Yes, they may even grow up weird. It is for all of those reasons that Christians should adopt.

Robertson has been a staunch and vocal advocate against abortion for many decades. Recently video surfaced of an abortionist, Dr. Virmani, shouting down some pro-life advocates with the now infamous words “Let me see you adopt one of those ugly, black babies.” What Dr. Virmani correctly understands is that being pro-life does not stop in the delivery room. It continues on into caring for children after they’ve been born.

Robertson touts his ministry to orphans but unfortunately his concern for orphans only extends to something just past “I wish you well; keep yourselves warm and well fed.” When Christians only concern themselves with the feeding and clothing of orphans we sadly “double down” on the trauma and abuse they may have suffered. Everything we know about child development tells us that orphanages are not sufficient for the proper raising of children. The Psalmist declares that “God sets the lonely into families.” We know that when children are not raised in families, more often than not, they grow up lacking the attachment skills necessary to navigate life. When someone lacks the ability to attach to family, they have an even harder time knowing how to attach to God. If Robertson hopes to inspire his viewers to the “pure religion” of caring for orphans and widows, he MUST call them to more than feeding and clothing them. That means we most certainly must take these children into our homes.

I’m grateful for the many efforts that have been put into building orphanages around the world. I much prefer children with attachment issues over children with starvation issues. But our work is not done when we build an orphanage. The kind of reconciliation that we are to display to the world for orphans happens best in a family. We are people who bear one another’s burdens. We are people who take on the responsibility of a lost and broken world. We are people who sacrifice even our lives for our brothers.

Let me offer a better answer to this woman’s question.

My dear sister, thank you for taking up the plight of the orphan. You are beautifully living out God’s call on your life and your treasures are being stored in a place where they will never burn. We were promised that we would face trials when we took on this life of discipleship. Your hope for companionship may be the sacrifice that you are offering to God on behalf of your children. It is among the most fragrant of all sacrifices. I pray that God would give you a husband that shares your passion for these little ones. If not, I pray that none of your trials are ever as difficult as this one. When you feel rejection, consider it pure joy; for you do your Father’s work. Lord please comfort this woman and pour out your blessings in her life. Give her more than she could ever imagine. If she can not have a husband give her a taste of the beauty of your sanctuary so that she may endure.

What do you think?

17 thoughts on “Don’t Adopt Pat Robertson’s View on Orphans

  1. True. Great points. Love your response. And let’s not forget this very important fact: your own genetic engineering guarantees you nothing. Biological children give their parents grief in all sorts of ways all the time. Adopted or biological…kids are work. Frustrating yet rewarding work.

    Thanks for the great post.

  2. Tim, thank you for making me aware of the latest misguided words to spill from Pat Robertson’s mouth.

    Your dissection of the issue is well-reasoned and fair. And your version of how Robertson should have responded is beautiful. How powerful would that have been if he’d actually said those words on his national broadcast! It’s so sad that his show reaches into so many homes everyday and fails to convey a true and complete heart for imitating Christ.

  3. I applaud your response to Dear Sister. I believe in your statement & word choice. I am appalled at Pat Roberston’s lack of thorough understanding in regards to adoption. Yes, adoption is certainly not for everyone & there are inherent negatives associated with adoption, yet we can never truly care for orphans with the attitude that our only responsibility as a “Christian” is to feed & clothe them. Money does not solve all that ails them as it never has for any human being.

    While I understand what Pat was saying in context, the way in which he stated it disgusts me and I am embarrassed at his ignorance on the full & sacrificial meaning behind the word “Christian”.

    I pray for this woman as well and hope you sent Pat Robertson your letter. He needs to be called out for his callous and somewhat hypocritical response!

  4. Beautiful response article to the video. Love your comment “It is for all of those reasons that Christians should adopt.” And your “better answer” to the women was “truth and living water”.

  5. Unfortunately, I think Pat Robertson said out loud what many Christians actually about doing the hard, but good things God calls us to. Thanks for continuing to be honest and passionate about the plight of the orphan. And I hope that others are reaching out to Dear Sister in love and truth.

  6. What a wonderful response!

    Hearing Robertsons words this morning made me regret that he ever called himself a Christian. That is not what I believe to be Christian sentiment. Thank you for stating so well what it really is.

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  8. Wow! Those words are callous indeed. I don’t think the Bible calls us to that sort of pat, from-a-distance, comfortable kind of “love.” Ministry is messy and getting into the thick of things. Jesus was questioned about why he would dine with sinners. He got in there. He didn’t go hand them a gospel tract and say “good luck.”

  9. Pingback: The Real Issue with Pat Robertson’s Adoption Comments « Christian Alliance for Orphans

  10. What a great response, Wendy. I love what you said.

    What a crummy perspective, Pat. So unBiblical.

  11. Interesting story. I am not a fan of Pat Robinson, but I suspect this all came off – somehow out of context from his life. He said it very poorly here and deserves the flack. His co-host Terry Meeuwsen has adopted 4 kids I believe from Ukraine and has started a CBN ministry called Orphan’s Promise. She recently released a DVD series Adoption & Foster Rx (featuring Dr. Karyn Purvis among others) focused on helping parents who have very challenging adopted children and I am a fan of this – it is an excellent video series for adoptive parents with attachment challenged children. There is always more to the story when one looks deeper. Who knows what the real truth is, but a do-over would be interesting…

  12. I love your response here. As a fellow adoptive parent to three bright and beautiful children, may I also add what I believe is an essential part of the Christian’s responsibility to the orphan? While adoption (whether domestic or international or by other birth family relatives) is one solution to the trauma of a child losing his or her birth family, I think that Christians are called to orphan prevention. We are called to help at-risk families in ways that encourage family preservation with adoption available if that is simply not possible. Of my three adopted children, two were relinquished because their first families did not have the resources to parent them due to illness and poverty. This kind of work requires much careful thought and a willingness to develop relationships with people that empower them to care for their families and live out their God-given purpose. In the U.S., this might mean mentoring or discipling a young woman or a young man or offering counsel at a crisis pregnancy center. Abroad, it involves working alongside individuals within communities to promote development. There is a lovely book on this subject, When Helping Hurts, which I think addresses this topic wonderfully.

  13. Couldn’t agree more with Mallory Pickering’s comment. To better fit the bloggers agenda, Robertson’s comments are taken out of context and used to paint an unfair picture of him and his ministires efforts to help the poor and orphans.

  14. Thank you for this post, I am glad that Pat’s response isn’t the only to Dear Sister. Also, I just finished listening to all 116 podcast episodes since I heard of Foster Podcast last month, but now I am missing my daily fix! Any plans for T & W or D & K to record another one soon? Even if it’s not about fostering, I still feel attached to Andrea and Linda’s lives!

  15. To those who are chiding the author for taking Pat’s comments out of context, let me just say that even if they are taken out of context, they were still said. More importantly, Pat is a huge public figure with great influence on many souls. He truly should be ashamed for spreading such a concept.

    I AM adopted. Not only by my parents, but by God. He has adopted me into His fold and if adoption is good enough for Him, then it is good enough for me.

    As for Pat’s nonsense comment about the risks of damaged or difficult children, my mother always says that I was easy as pie to raise. But my brother (her biological son) was her constant source of stress and worry. You never know what you’re going to get whether the child is biologically yours or spiritually yours.

    And, now, to carry on the legacy, my husband and I adopting a ten year old little boy who we are thrilled to call our own!

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