Lawmakers in Kansas and Oklahoma are considering bills that protect the right of faith-based adoption and foster care providers to continue to operate according to their religious beliefs.
We’ve seen the consequences when this right is not upheld. Just look at the Catholic Charities of Boston, which was forced to end its adoption services in 2006. Why? Because the government demanded that the organization no longer serve children and families consistent with its faith, specifically its commitment to placing children with both a mom and a dad.
And it’s the children who were ultimately harmed by the government’s actions.
So why would anyone oppose giving children more opportunities to find a loving, forever home by ensuring that as many child welfare providers as possible stay in the field? Maybe we should ask organizations like the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union – who are advocating against such protections in Kansas and Oklahoma – why they are placing their agendas above the needs of kids in those states.
The truth is that such laws actually provide more opportunities for children to find a loving home, not fewer. Here are five reasons that these types of laws should be adopted:
1. Every child deserves a chance to be raised in a loving family.
Children should always come first. And threatening faith-based adoption and foster care providers with closure simply because they operate according to their religious beliefs also threatens the children that they serve. Fewer providers means fewer people working to meet these children’s needs.
2. No adoption and foster care provider should be prevented from serving children and families because the government doesn’t like their religious beliefs.
The religious beliefs of these providers are at the core of everything they do. And their beliefs motivate and inspire their service to children and families in the community. They should not be barred from serving simply because their beliefs do not line up with the government-favored viewpoint.
3. Faith-based adoption and foster care providers are particularly effective in placing the most vulnerable of children, including older children, minority children, and children with special needs.
Faith-based providers often serve the most abused and neglected children, finding them foster care and adoptive homes. It is these vulnerable children that will suffer the most if faith-based providers are pushed from the public square and kept from operating.
4. Shutting faith-based providers down gives families who wish to adopt fewer options.
Allowing faith-based child welfare providers to operate on a fair playing field as other providers gives adoptive families the option of going to an agency that shares their beliefs. Laws like the ones proposed in Kansas and Oklahoma promote a diversity of providers, ensuring a greater selection to families in the state. We should be advocating for more choices and support for families seeking to adopt, not less.
5. Birth moms have fewer options if faith-based providers are shut down.
We fail mothers and their children when we restrict the number of possible adoption providers. As a society, we should support all pregnant women, particularly those facing difficult circumstances. For mothers who have chosen to place their child with an adoptive family, having a provider that shares the mother’s faith and who will help her find a family of the same faith can be an important factor.
Supporting the freedom of child welfare providers to operate according to their beliefs gives children more opportunities to find a forever home. And as a society, we should be doing everything we can to keep kids first.