1AP’s 3 Things to Know — Faith-Based Adoption and Foster Care Agencies

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the state of Michigan over a 2015 law that allows religious adoption agencies to offer services according to their faith. Similar legislation proposed in Kansas and Oklahoma proactively aims to ensure private organizations are not prohibited by state law from aiding in foster care and adoption.

Laws codifying religious liberty protections for faith-based adoption providers are important because:

  1. They excel in placing special needs and hard-to-place older children. (84% of children in need of forever homes fall into this category) 
  2. Shutting them down limits birth mother choices and does not increase access for anyone. 
  3. They help the child and parents throughout the adoption process and beyond with a built-in network and community of support.

Some activists deride the service these agencies provide as discrimination against LGBT couples,  unmarried opposite-sex couples, or single individuals. Same-sex and unmarried couples can legally adopt in all 50 states and and would not be prevented from doing so by the continued existence of faith-based agencies.

Religious liberty protections for these agencies simply preserves the status quo in which religious adoption agencies and foster families can serve children on equal terms with secular adoption agencies and foster families.

If the ACLU is successful in its lawsuit, faith-based adoption and foster-care providers in Michigan will go the way of similar providers in Massachusetts, Illinois, Washington, D.C., and California.  In those states, agencies were compelled to shut down because complying with government mandates violated their sincerely held religious beliefs.

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