An Open Letter to Focus On the Family and iCareAboutOrphans Regarding Orphan Care

I write this with a heavy heart after doing a lot of research.

I have always used Focus on the Family as a resource for so many things and had share articles with many of the Christian community at large.

But while doing research into the ethical adoption movement, I have realized that you like many others, are falling desperately short.    Like many Christians, you are talking a terrific game about caring for orphans, but when looking into the speakers you have brought to speak for you, I was stunned and horrified.

The name that horrified me was Johnston Moore, of the group “Home Forever” which has become quite the name in orphan care with their push for adoptive parents for foster children.    On the surface this sounds like an amazing scriptural idea, until you start doing research into what measures he wants to implement.

Moore is one of a group of outspoken critics against the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).   This is an act that many in the adoption reform movement would like to see extended to all children.   The family placement preferences in the end are better for children who are not forced to loose their identities and culture.    In addition, in a private adoption case, both father and mother signing off in front of a judge with full knowledge of what they are doing is in the end, the best way of securing permanency for the children without the long court battles and disruption in the lives of children.

Instead of pushing to make sure that family is involved, Moore has involved himself in FOUR  ICWA cases wanting to deny children permanency with their natural families.   In the case of Veronica Brown (Capobianco), he ignored the numerous ethics violations that were at the start of this case and even the dishonesty of the adoptive parents and biological mother in favor of using this case to overturn ICWA.   A majority of the misinformation that was sent out about this case was through a public relations firm headed by Jessica Munday.     I only bring this up because instead of distancing himself from the case when the lies came out into the open, he decided instead to found an organization with Jessica Munday and Lisa Morris (who runs the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare, a group considered by many natives to be a racist hate group, indeed, a group with its own ethical questions to answer) called the Coalition for the Protection of Indian Children and Families.    In short, this group has thankfully done nothing since the Veronica case except to renew its nonprofit status, but there he stands with two people with questionable ethics.

In the same case, he celebrated the removal of a child who had been with her family for TWO YEARS and had no memory of the adoptive family.    For all his calling for permanency and Christian orphan care, he helped fight to take a native child from her CHRISTIAN parents and send her to an atheist family.   He had also gone on the Dr. Phil show with them to  commiserate and to speak out on the evils of ICWA.   Now, I am not saying the law is perfect, but I DO believe that many of the standards are common sense and ethics.

Three other young girls have been featured on the Home Forever Facebook page, Dee, Elle and a young Choctaw child.    Dee was sent to live with her aunt and her biological brother.   Elle was sent to live with her aunt and uncle and the young Choctaw child should have been sent from California to Utah to live with HER father’s family.   All three of these children were foster care cases, with an entirely different set of case law than the Veronica case would be, and in most of their states they would be placed with the family regardless of ICWA, at least in theory (and specifically in Elle’s case that was going to happen) but yet Moore has only focused on the ICWA, as if because of native status their families were not a good idea to take care of them.    In fact, the young Choctaw child had not even been with the foster family for a year when the foster family requested de facto parent status as a way to get around reunification with her family.

With this, I come to a white child that has been prominently featured on Moore’s site, in fact, prominently featured in the national news, Sonya McCaul.

If you do not know the story, I will give it to you in a nutshell.   Sonya was removed under questionable circumstances from her father as a toddler – her baby sitter took her to Tennessee and refused to return her.   From there, instead of being sent back to Nebraska, she was sent into foster care with Kim and David Hodgins who tried five times to circumvent the law and adopt her.   They succeeded once but the adoption was overturned less than a year later because it was ruled that her father’s parental rights could not be terminated.  (The father had been put in jail, but the grandmother was about to get placement when they filed for the first time to terminate her father’s parental rights)    The father’s life had long been straightened out, his stint in prison was due to being literally in a vehicle with the wrong person who didn’t secure their gun properly.

Instead of waiting for the courts to do their thing, they tried to create an orphan in need of adoption by going around the Tennessee court system.    They even put up a restraining order AGAINST DCS when they were going to remove Sonya because they weren’t cooperating with the reunification process.   The courts had enough of this in January and just abruptly removed her which was when Moore got involved, calling out that HER rights had been violated, but instead of putting the blame where it belonged (the court documents have come out more and more supporting this) on the foster parents, he put it on Sonya’s family, the one that had been fighting for her since day one.     He has been silent on this of recent times, but nothing going back and saying that he was wrong and that this case wasn’t what it seemed from the start.

Every case on his Facebook site, these foster parents are fighting biological families for their CHILDREN.    He does not share successful reunion stories, only successful adoptions.   One such case was “Little Johnny” who was returned to HIS great grandparents.    Instead of encouraging the family to work with “Johnny’s” family to get to know his God given family, he encouraged prayer that the child was to stay.   In short, the only permanency that Johnston Moore believes in is the permanency of an adoptive family.   A biological family is nothing more than an obstacle for him.

Sometimes foster care is a necessity, sometimes it is a short term necessity, sometimes it does sadly, have to involve terminating parental rights and other times an adoption.   Adoption however is NOT the long term answer to a short term problem.   In fact, fighting the reunification process opens children up to more instability as they are fought over between their families and legal strangers.   Adoption is also not the first answer to jump to when things are wrong, adoption involves a loss for the child and termination of parental rights is a serious step that needs to be approached with extreme caution.   Followed by that, a child’s fit relatives should have the ability to care for a child from their own families, thus keeping a child’s God given identity intact.

Does God make mistakes?  I know your answer is NO.   Undoubtedly it is no.  But the attitude of Moore and many like him that seem to push creating orphans for the sake of caring for them because God ordained it, to me, screams of men knowing better than God does as to what family a child belongs.   God places children in families for a reason.    As Christians we need to support family preservation wherever it is possible and then care for the children when families are unable or unwilling to care for them

As Christians we should NOT be supporting dishonesty to steal children.  We should not support those that are thwarting the law and we should not be using those who outspokenly support both to push a cause we support.

Because of the use of Johnston Moore as an ongoing spokesperson for the orphan care movement that is solidly pushed, I no longer feel like Focus on the Family is supporting the values of honesty and integrity that they are purported to support.  I urge you to look into his support of unethical adoptions and to join many of us in a push for greater ethics in adoptions.   That is true orphan care.


12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cher aw (@rainlady02)
    Oct 09, 2014 @ 20:34:30

    I looked up the definition of orphan ” a child deprived by death of one or both parents” I am not sure when that definition allowed people who decided they wanted a child more to rip apart a family to create one of their making? This country, and more specifically those of us who celebrate the Christian faith, should make it our priority to support first families. I am beyond disappointed that Johnston Moore has chosen to lend his support to a movement intent on breaking our God given families apart. Focus on the Family was a staple in my house while I raised my children, now I must admit, that they no longer represent my values as a Christian woman.


  2. samantha568
    Oct 10, 2014 @ 14:55:06

    Thank you for speaking for the children.


  3. Trackback: An Open Letter to Focus On the Family and iCareAboutOrphans Regarding Orphan Care | 2sheepinthecity's Blog
  4. Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy
    Oct 10, 2014 @ 16:02:53

    Thank you so much for this honest view of what is often a complete wrong doing done in the name of adoption. It seems to me that so many true Christians would better serve both God and country by helping to be part of the family preservation.


  5. Debbie R.
    Oct 10, 2014 @ 19:28:41

    Thank You for this article. I will be printing it and sharing it with others. Folks need to know-we need to get this message out!!!!! (It’s long overdue.)


  6. Mads
    Oct 11, 2014 @ 02:53:47

    My father and his five siblings were in Catholic “orphanages” from 1916 through 1930. My grandfather had done a runner and my grandmother, unable to support the children placed them in these centers. BUT, although it was attempted for the children to be separated and adopted out, they never were. Kudos to the Catholic Church in NYC for resisting these attempts and I have proof of same.

    Eventually, all children were paroled to their grandfather, my great grandfather and all knew and loved and lived with each other through adulthood and until their deaths.

    Had adoption taken place, I may never had been born. I may never have known my network of aunts and uncles and their offspring.

    Biological families first.

    Your blog is wonderful. I look forward to every post you make.

    Best regards from NYC


  7. Marley Greiner
    Oct 11, 2014 @ 20:12:53

    That’s for tis great piece. I’ll be forwarding. Also, keep in mind that Focus on the Family in the 1990s was an amicus in Doe v Sundquist the uist which attempted to overturn Tennessee’s semi-OBC access law which opened the OBCs of thousands of adopteees born in that state.


  8. John Moore
    Oct 13, 2014 @ 17:28:18

    You might want to be careful how you portray me. My son and I recently did a training for foster parents about the importance of maintaining positive relationships with birth relatives. I also speak about the importance of supporting reunification for children in foster care when it can be done in a safe and TIMELY manner. All of the cases I get involved in are carefully chosen. I have helped children reunify and have encouraged others to do the same, and will continue to do so. Get your facts straight before you attack.


  9. Mads
    Oct 16, 2014 @ 00:06:25

    Dear Mr. Moore,
    Your comment has piqued my curiosity. Would you please state your and your group’s official stance on the Baby Veronica case and all other cases involving the ICWA? I would be interested to know same as to formulate an informed opinion.

    Many thanks from NYC.


    • John Moore
      Oct 16, 2014 @ 20:21:17

      Home Forever doesn’t have an “official stance” that can be applied across the board to all cases and the Baby Veronica case unfolded before it even existed. I would be happy to share my personal views with you privately. I do not want to get dragged into an open debate on any individual cases. Sane and well-meaning people can disagree on these cases and we have to allow each other that freedom given our individual experiences and beliefs. If others want to hear my views, I would be happy to share with them as well. You may be interested to know that tomorrow I am helping lead a breakout session at an adoption conference on the importance of foster families in supporting reunification efforts. I have been arguing for this in my circles for years, and I have also been supportive of open adoptions for years as well. My children all know and visit their biological families. Our boys’ biological mother, who was the reason they were subject to ICWA, personally told the judge that she wanted us to adopt them, and we continued a relationship with her until she passed away a few years ago, even being with her in the hospital just hours before she did. Thank you for taking the time to ask and be open to hearing from me.


  10. Mads
    Oct 17, 2014 @ 02:52:28

    I respect your “mission” as I believe you are sincere in your heart however, I respectfully disagree that you prefer not to state your stance publically. I do understand that you do not wish to enter an internet debate as I also do not want to do same.
    However, it is the key word “mission” that so often disturbs me.
    I have no “mission”. I am not here because my father and his siblings were, most fortunately, not adopted out to various homes almost 100 years ago. I am here because right is right.
    I will say it publically, Baby Veronica always belonged with her father and his extended family and it was a travesty that that 4 year old child was ripped from her father’s arms because the adoptive couple in their own words as a matter of record in court documents opined that they loved her “more”. They loved themselves more, pure and simple.
    After what you have stated, I suspect you may be very different from adoptive couple. I sincerely hope you are.
    As to the biological mother of your adopted child who personally requested that you adopt her child, well that is a different thing altogether than the Baby Veronica tragedy and others unfolding across this country involving ICWA.
    Please be wary of many and there are many who truly want to destroy the ICWA rather than working with it. They, these “professionals” many who share my profession have motives that do not coincide with the best interests of a child. The best interests are to be with a functioning biological family, such as Dusten’s family.
    Many thanks for your reply.


  11. Trackback: JM & The Coalition for the Protection of Indian Children & Families | athenapaeonia

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