STANDING FOR FREEDOMFaith-based adoption providers do so much good! So why are they in jeopardy?

The Magee family story

We all love a good adoption story. Reading about children finding their forever homes warms our hearts and reminds us of the best of humanity.

But we often forget that behind many adoption stories lies tragedy. Most adopted children carry an emotional scar from being separated from their biological parents at a very young age—no matter what the reason for that separation might be.

TJ Magee knows this pain firsthand.

TJ had been scarred by her early childhood experiences, which made it difficult to form close bonds with her adoptive parents.
TJ and her brothers were born into a home full of drugs, dysfunction, and poverty.

The hardest part is knowing you’re not wanted

When TJ was six years old, she and her two brothers were taken into custody by Child Protective Services in Jacksonville, Florida. Their biological parents struggled with drugs and alcohol, and the kids grew up in abject poverty. “For the first six years of my life,” TJ remembers, “most of it was about survival.”

The three children were eventually adopted by Mark and Angel Magee. “Once Mark and Angel told us they were going to adopt us, I remember feeling like it was Christmas morning,” says TJ.

But her story was not over yet. TJ and her adoptive parents had a long journey ahead of them.

“Hands down, the most painful part of my story was the fact that I was not wanted. When you have felt extreme rejection and neglect, it creates a framework inside of you that you see the world from that place of neglect.” —TJ Magee

TJ struggled to form bonds with her parents as she dealt with the emotional trauma of her early childhood. “I think [that] as the hard work of actually building the relationships began, that brought up so much pain for me,” TJ recounted. “I avoided anything that would create any intimacy or vulnerability.”

Many adopted children face the same difficulties in adjusting to their new families. After being separated, or even neglected or abused by the adults in their lives, these children can face difficulties in trusting their adoptive parents. It’s a process that takes work.

A faith-based adoption agency provided the turning point for this family

Thankfully, the Magees were given the support they needed through their adoption provider, Bethany Christian Services. Not only did Bethany Christian help the Magees adopt TJ and her brothers, they helped them grow into a loving family by connecting them to counseling services to help build their relationships.

“Through that process, my adoptive parents sat with me in those emotions and that really started to form a bond with them,” said TJ of her counseling experience. “And that allowed me to begin falling in love with them as my parents.”

The Magees took solace in knowing that their adoption provider was there for them but, more importantly, they were comforted by the fact that Bethany Christian Services understood their Christian values and the faith-filled family they wanted to create.

TJ’s dad, Mark, recalls that he and his wife chose Bethany Christian because they knew Bethany would “understand our Christian perspective and story of being called to adopt.” That “calling” is what unites faith-based providers and the families they serve in their passion for helping children find homes.

NorviliaEtienne-NorviliaStoryLP-041118
A faith-based adoption agency proved vital to a successful adoption story for the Magee family.

Faith-based adoption providers are facing government pressure to abandon their beliefs

Unfortunately, many faith-based adoption providers like Bethany Christian Services are being forced to shut their doors. Organizations like the ACLU are pushing state and local laws that require providers to place children with same-sex couples or even unmarried couples.

This effectively shuts out faith-based nonprofits because they believe that every child deserves a mother and a father.

This is why Alliance Defending Freedom and a group of other nonprofit organizations have launched the Keep Kids First coalition. Keep Kids First stands with faith-based adoption providers who simply want to operate according to their beliefs.

If faith-based adoption and foster care providers are forced to shut their doors, there will be fewer homes for children in need. There will also be fewer options for families like the Magees who rely on their faith-based providers to help navigate family life after adoption.

“There was a point in time when I didn’t know if I would ever have a loving, healthy relationship with my daughter,” said TJ’s mom, Angel Magee. “Having an adoption agency to support you can be a turning point.”  

You can give to provide faith-based adoption providers the strong defense they need.

Standing with faith-based adoption providers

“Every child deserves a chance to be raised in a loving home, and faith-based adoption providers play a vital role in placing vulnerable kids in a forever family,” said ADF Senior Counsel Matt Sharp. “There are currently over 400,000 children in the foster care system and 100,000 eligible for adoption, but tragically, some state and local governments are willing to discriminate against faith-based foster care and adoption providers working to address these desperate needs. No child welfare provider should be prevented from serving children and families because the government doesn’t like their religious belief—this is both unlawful and unjust.”

You would think that state and local governments would use every resource at their disposal to find homes for these kids waiting in the system. Instead, many government officials are putting their own political agendas ahead of the needs of children.

For over a decade now, governments have been ending their partnerships with faith-based adoption and foster care providers. Massachusetts cut ties with religious adoption providers in 2006 after the state recognized same-sex partnerships. Illinois did the same in 2011 after the state recognized same-sex unions—effectively displacing over 2,000 children.

“If our state and federal lawmakers are serious about keeping kids first, they will allow diversity and work with faith-based, as well as secular, providers.” —TJ Magee

Now, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage in 2015, faith-based adoption providers around the country are being forced out of business. Why? Because they want to place children with a married mother and father based on their beliefs about the best environment in which to raise a child.

Instead of working with everyone to ensure vulnerable children are given the homes they so desperately need, governments in places like Philadelphia are demanding that adoption providers drop their religious beliefs in order to have a seat at the table.

Just this past March, the City of Philadelphia cut ties with Catholic Charities, which provided homes for 266 children in 2017. And in July, a judge in Pennsylvania upheld this discriminatory action.

That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom, along with other members of the Keep Kids First coalition, joined in a lawsuit challenging Philadelphia’s decision to prohibit Catholic Social Services from placing more children with families—simply because of the agency’s religious beliefs.

Will you support ADF as it stands with faith-based adoption providers?

Your gift will defend kids from political agendas!

If the City of Philadelphia succeeds, it would not only force a religious ministry to abandon its mission and message, but it would also reduce the number of adoption providers. As a result, children who desperately need loving forever homes will be harmed.

Take it from TJ Magee, someone who knows firsthand the benefits of a faith-based adoption provider: “If our state and federal lawmakers are serious about keeping kids first, they will allow diversity and work with faith-based, as well as secular, providers.”

Stand with ADF as it stands with faith-based adoption providers.

ADF regularly gets calls from organizations and individuals who are threatened with government punishment—simply because of their religious beliefs. We can’t sit back and watch this happen. We never want to be in the position of turning down a deserving client due to lack of funds.

Today, YOU can give to defend faith-based adoption providers and other faith-based ministries.

Today, YOU can help keep kids first!

About Alliance Defending Freedom

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, nonprofit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

ADF was launched in 1994 by 35 ministry leaders, including Dr. James Dobson, Dr. D. James Kennedy, Dr. Bill Bright, and Larry Burkett.

With God’s blessing, ADF has grown from the prayers of those godly leaders to become a major force in the legal battle for religious freedom, winning nearly 80% of our cases, including nine victories at the U.S. Supreme Court since 2011.