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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Adopting across cultures

Such adoptions can enrich family life, parents say

In a country where people shell out millions of dollars on tabloids, some now write off transracial adoption as the new cause célèbre. Yet once the glitter of Angelina Jolie-Brad Pitt and Madonna-Guy Ritchie is stripped away, thousands of children in need of adoptive families remain.

Poverty, war and disease throughout the world have caused the need for adoptive parents to skyrocket. In Africa, for example, the spread of HIV and AIDS makes it nearly impossible to meet the demand for such families.

Families that adopt internationally often deal with special medical needs as well. According to the International Adoption Clinic of the Children’s Hospital and Research Center, Oakland, Calif., 60 percent of children adopted from outside the U.S. have health problems.

Karen and Steve ReMine, Roanoke, Va.,
Karen and Steve ReMine, Roanoke, Va., play Monopoly with Kimberly, 16, and Memory, 10, two of their six children. Kimberly, originally from South Korea, was adopted when she was 5 months old, and Memory has been with the family for two years. The ReMines have three biological sons and another daughter who is from Siberia.
In addition 80 percent of adoptive parents weren’t aware of those problems until they brought their children home. Health issues often can be treated. But transracial families also must understand and honor different cultural practices and traditions. It’s led to heated debates about placing nonwhite children with white parents. Ultimately many experts agree a loving family is better than foster care or orphanages.

As the adoptive mother of two children from Korea, Diane H. Pederson, a pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, St. Cloud, Minn., understands such issues and seeks ways to bridge the gap. Although her children are now grown, she continues to advocate for transracial families.


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