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Sons and Daughters to be Called Brothers and Sisters

Steven Curtis Chapman - All I want For Christmas
When I see pictures of Steven Curtis Chapman holding his adopted Chinese daughter and hear the song that tells the story of the metaphor of God’s love expressed through her adoption and the process. I know what he’s getting at and I appreciate his heart, I just don’t know what to think. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he stands up for adoption and i believe he’s right — we, as privileged Americans should take up and care for orphans, but similar to what I’ve expressed with mixed-race children, I feel a sense of something being lost when it comes to my brothers and sisters who have been adopted and you don’t have to take my word for it.

I’ve known many adopted children from Asia — mostly Korean and Chinese. And as economist Steven Levitt (himself having adopted two Chinese daughters) makes a strong case for, in his bestselling book Freakonomics, children do surprisingly well despite many of the external circumstances surrounding them. Many of those who were adopted lead vibrant, successful lives here in America with new parents of a different race. But here’s the rub that I see, their adopted parents cannot inherently bequeath their children with a critical sense of who they are and where they are from, which at least this study shows can be a key ingredient to their self-esteem.

Furthermore, the ethnic church can contribute to this and should. In Minnesota, where a great number of Korean adoptees are, this ministry has the tagline: “Blood is thicker than water; Jesus’ love is thicker than blood!” That is so beautiful. I pray that many of our churches can do this type of work in empowering adoptees to have a sense that we love them, that they have a better understanding of being adopted as sons and daughters through Christ than many of us, and that Christ reigns from the East to the West. They should not lose the best of what their Asian heritage has to offer and nor should our voices be absent in the formation of who they are as a person and a believer.

Lastly, to call Asian American Christians out on the carpet, I challenge us to adopt children, both those who look like us and do not look like us, because we have been blessed. In many respects, Asian American are the wealthiest, best educated, and in many segments, some of the most churched demographic in America. How is that adoption is sung about by Steven Curtis Chapman and not by us? How is that we as Christians do not rush to rescue them? Do we not consider them brothers and sisters?

About David Park

Christian 2nd-generation Korean American; Atlanta Georgia; more details to come.

4 responses to “Sons and Daughters to be Called Brothers and Sisters

  1. elderj

    I have mixed feelings about this… we should talk about it sometime

  2. What aspect bothers you, elderj?

  3. andre


    I understand what you’re saying but as a 1st gen immigrant, I’d argue that your point of losing cultural heritage would apply to immigration. If you emigrate to the US, you acknowledge in all likelihood over time, you will lose your cultural distinctiveness. Adoption by a non-Asian is only another example of how cultural heritage can be lost.

    It’s not something I like to think about, but I’ve acknowledge its inevitability. I find comfort in making a follower of Christ my primary identification.

  4. Andre, you’re way ahead of the curve as a 1st gen. With globalization growing at the speed of technology and ghettoization a feature of many of our metropolitan areas, I’d contend that your statement, “in all likelihood over time, you will lose your culutral distinctiveness” is not true any longer. Culture is something as strong as race and from the racism, that I’ve personally experienced growing up here in this country as a 2nd gen, actually makes me want to go seek my mother culture back out. In this case, race becomes a prime factor in me not burning the bridges to cultural distinctiveness. When adoptees are in cross-racial families, this is the piece that they are missing and though you say it’s just another example of it being lost, they are looking to recover it and see how they are part of that story.

    Therefore, it’s not simply a matter of what cultural heritage is lost, it’s that replacing it with a heritage that is far less informative of where we came from and where we are going. And while I also find comfort in making a follower of Christ as my primary identification, I believe that Christ does not call me to do so in a socio-cultural, historical vaccuum. I think it is therefore imperative to not only to accept the great gift the gospel, as it has grown throughout Western Civilization, but to ask questions from my culture and my mother’s culture, and see what facets of Asian culture does the Gospel speak to as well. I think that the ethnic church can have a huge part in this, but again can be so ethnocentric that they often deny their own marginalized 2nd gen or adoptees because they do not culturally qualify in their eyes.

    While we say this is a cultural problem, it reflects that the Gospel has not transformed the ethnic church’s view of race/culture in order that they might use their culture as an attractive platform to the gospel. In short, we can push people off from both the Gospel and from our cultures because of our exclusivism. Two sins for the price of one.

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