by Madison Ferguson
November 20, 2018
There is a movement of Christians putting actions to their pro-life words through adoption. Adoptive families will find their search for faith-based adoption agencies increasingly difficult, however. Faith-based agencies (FBAs) have been under attack for practicing their religious freedom, despite their impactful work in placing children in loving homes.
Courtney Lott works with such organizations. As part of Family Research Council’s Speaker Series and to recognize National Adoption Month 2018, she shared her experience as Co-Executive Director of Faithful Adoption Consultants (FAC) and mother of eight children—both biological and adopted. FAC walks alongside adoptive families to assist in all aspects of the adoption process. From matching families with children to encouraging the birth mothers to adopt instead of abort, the pro-life message is clear.
Lott summarized FAC’s mission: “Our heart is to build relationships, educate families, and put actions to our pro-life words.”
Private adoption agencies share similar goals. Child welfare services began in the private sector, but it wasn’t until the 1990s—after the public child welfare system was created—that private adoption agencies set cost and quality standards. Faith-based agencies are particularly beneficial because they utilize faith networks to recruit foster and adoptive families. The CALL and Focus on the Family, like FAC, encourage and equip families in the Christian community to consider foster care and adoption.
The impact of these FBAs is significant. In 2016, Catholic Charities agencies around the country served over 10,000 children through foster care and adoption services. That same year, 45 percent of Catholic Charities’ adoptions were of children with special needs. Children who have a historically hard time of being placed in homes due to age, background, or need are valued throughout the process—beginning with their “first family.”
FAC recognizes that the ultimate goal of foster care is to reunite children with their families. The process of fostering and adoption gives FBAs and consultants an opportunity to love the child’s first family and encourage them to pursue a situation in which they could better parent their child.
Another fundamental aspect of the fostering and adoption process is educating families. As Courtney Lott pointed out, closed adoptions were common throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s. This means adoptees don’t know until later in life that they’re adopted, and mothers often didn’t get to meet their child or the child’s adoptive family. Now, there is an increasing trend of semi-open adoptions, where mothers know the first name of the adoptive family, as well as wide open adoptions, where the adoptee has unrestricted contact with and access to all knowledge of their first family while still being loved and cared for by their adoptive family.
FAC and FBAs clearly demonstrate how they value all life, from the pregnant mother to the child to the adoptive family. Their work is valuable in maintaining the institution of the family, and the protection of their work is necessary in maintaining religious freedom.
A myriad of FBAs joined the national fight for religious freedom when court-created same-sex marriage was legalized in 2015. Despite the variety of child welfare agencies already serving same-sex couples, and the thousands of families helped by FBAs, anti-faith policies have pushed out adoption agencies that decline to place children in households that do not comply with the biblical definition of marriage. This needlessly deprives children of having a better chance of finding a loving adoptive home.
FBAs in Boston, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco were forced to shut their doors because of their convictions. In 2011, Catholic Charities organizations in Illinois closed their contracts with the state and consequently closed their doors to thousands of children.
Congress has since urged President Trump to protect faith-based adoption agencies, and five states passed laws in 2017 prohibiting discrimination against faith-based adoption providers.
The nationwide decline in the value of life is apparent. In addition to the abortion industry’s attacks on life inside the womb, attacks on FBAs compromise children outside the womb. Thus, adoption is becoming recognized as a pro-life issue, and it should be defended as such.
To put action to pro-life words, we must be willing to answer the call of caring for children and parents through adoption or foster care. Whether driven by infertility or a mission-based calling, caring for children and parents can take many forms, include bringing a child home, financial support, mentorship, and transportation assistance to foster families.
In the mid-2000s, the evangelical church began to answer this call by educating about and engaging in the “uniquely Christian calling,” as termed by Rick Warren and Focus on the Family. While only two percent of Americans have adopted, more than twice as many practicing Christians fulfill this calling. As Courtney Lott pointed out, for Christians, it is the number one place we can make a huge impact for the gospel.
With the opioid crisis contributing to the adoption crisis, the problem is large enough for both faith-based and public agencies to work together for the sake of children and families. By standing for pro-life values in accordance with these faith-based organizations, we help to maintain religious freedom and ensure that ALL life has a chance to be heard.
To hear how Courtney Lott’s Faithful Adoption Consultants is answering the pro-life call, view the full event here.
Madison Ferguson is an intern at Family Research Council.