Tag archives: Adoption

New York is the Latest State to Trample on the Hopes of Foster Children

by Kayla Sargent

July 31, 2019

When I was about eight years old, some family friends of mine fostered (and eventually adopted) a severely neglected 18-month-old girl. She was placed in foster care after her parents, both addicted to drugs, would not change her diaper or feed her, sometimes for days on end. When she first entered the custody of her new foster parents, she gorged herself at mealtime until she became sick because for her entire life, she never knew when or from where her next meal would come.

Most children in the foster care system have suffered unimaginable trauma. The 500,000 children in foster care are significantly more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and other developmental and behavioral issues compared to children who do not spend time in the system.

One might think that, at the very least, ensuring that children have a roof over their heads and three meals a day would not be a political issue. One would think that everyone would want these children to have the best care possible. And one would think that faith-based adoption agencies, given the emphasis that the Bible places on caring for widows and orphans, ought to be able to help provide for these children without fear of religious persecution.

Unfortunately, this is not the case.

New Hope Family Services of New York is suing the state after being given an ultimatum by the state’s Office of Child and Family Services stating that they would have to start “placing children with unmarried couples and same-sex couples” or they would be “choosing to close.” It is not because they are not providing adequate care to children, or because they are unable to place children in homes, but because they refuse to allow same-sex couples or couples who are unmarried to adopt.

They are not alone. Across the nation, Christian organizations that believe children belong with a mother and a father are being forced to close their doors because of alleged “discrimination.” In 2018, the state of Illinois forced Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Springfield to close, displacing roughly 3,000 children. Earlier that same year, the city of Philadelphia “barred Bethany Christian Services and Catholic Social Services” from serving children in need because of their beliefs about marriage.

What is especially tragic about these shutdowns is that they not only affect the employees of these agencies—they impact hundreds, if not thousands, of children in desperate need of a loving home.

In Obergefell v. Hodges, we were promised that, “The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.” These shutdowns are a clear violation of this principle handed down by the Supreme Court, and are currently being challenged.

Regardless of your stance on marriage, and even your stance on discrimination, children should not be the ones that are punished in the ongoing war being waged on religious liberty by LGBT activists. When “equality” demands that certain adoption providers be shut down and children are denied adequate care and a loving home with a mother and a father as a result, it is no longer equality, but oppression. Just as little girls should not have to gorge themselves for fear of not having enough to eat in the future, faith-based adoption providers should not have to violate their religious beliefs in order to continue helping children in need find loving homes.

Kayla Sargent is an intern at Family Research Council.

The Fight to Defend Faith-Based Adoption Providers

by Nicolas Reynolds

June 28, 2019

Recently, faith-based adoption and foster care agencies have been the target of many discriminatory acts made by state and local governments.

Far from the Founding Fathers’ original intent, the ability to help others through foster care and adoption is now contingent on the feelings of LGBT activists in some states and localities. This is just the latest example of a disturbing trend—if the convictions of one’s religion encroaches on someone else’s comfort, ego, or ideology, they are demonized and declared to be a manifestation of hatred.

Increasingly, care provided by faith-based adoption agencies is only permitted on the condition that these agencies’ beliefs do not offend the LGBT movement, conditions that threaten their ability to serve children who are in desperate need of fundamental nurturing. Governmental discriminatory actions have been taken against faith-based agencies in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia.

In Philadelphia, actions were taken in March of 2018 to end the referral contract the city had with Catholic Social Services (CSS) even though they are one of the city’s largest foster care agencies (there are 30 total), working every day to place at-risk and special needs children in supportive homes. According to CSS, the agency serves 120 children in foster care and supervises 100 foster homes on a daily basis. In 2017 alone, they worked with over 2,200 children. Following the city’s ending of its referral contract with CSS, a “foster parent of the year” award winner’s home was emptied and siblings were nearly kept apart despite the city’s urgent call for hundreds of new foster homes. Even though CSS has been placing children in foster care for over a century, it appears they have lost the opportunity seemingly overnight.

Situations like Philadelphia will only escalate all governmental discriminatory actions towards religious organizations. Actions like these open the door to far more severe discriminatory actions to be taken against Christian organizations, which will adversely affect their ability to care for the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40). As recently as December of last year, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services issued an ultimatum to faith-based adoption agency New Hope, forcing them to either violate their beliefs (that a child needs both a mother and a father) or close their doors. New Hope would likely no longer be able to provide children with homes.

In response to the clear governmental discriminatory actions taken against faith-based adoption agencies, legislators such as Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) are introducing legislation to protect religious liberty. They have introduced the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2019 (CWPIA) (H.R. 897 / S. 274), a piece of legislation which would allow organizations such as CSS and New Hope to continue helping those in need without threat of foreclosure from the government.  

Rep. Kelly echoes the plea to preserve the ability of Christians to care for children who are desperately in need of nurturing that only a family can give:

Faith-based adoption and foster care providers have historically played an unrivaled role in caring for our country’s most vulnerable kids… They are the very providers that we should be encouraging and promoting, not punishing.

Concurring, Rep. Enzi adds:

The government should not be in the business of forcing faith-based child welfare providers to abandon their sincerely held religious beliefs, especially at the expense of finding a new home for a child in need.

Additionally, laws similar to the CWPIA have been passed in Alabama, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia—most recently in Oklahoma and Kansas.

Discriminatory actions taken against faith-based adoption and foster care agencies are attacks on the biblical definition of the family, the most fundamental establishment in society. These attacks show a disregard for the Judeo-Christian principles which are uniquely imparted through the family. Lawmakers must provide more security to Christian organizations that wish to place children in homes that will sacrifice for, care for, and nurture children in need of a forever-family. 

Since the family is the cornerstone of a moral and flourishing society, it should be regarded and defended with the utmost care. This includes ensuring that the best possible services are provided for children who are not privileged to have a biological family. If governmental discrimination causes families to fall short, society’s moral standards too will fall short. The American people must stand up for the rights of faith-based organizations to continue providing the care that children need. No longer should Christians be targeted by governmental discriminatory actions for their efforts to care for “the least of these.”

Nicolas Reynolds is an intern at Family Research Council.

Do No Harm Act” Threatens Our First Freedom

by Luke Isbell , Mary Beth Waddell

June 27, 2019

Yesterday, the House Committee of Education and Labor held a hearing on the Do No Harm Act. While this bill purports to prevent harm, it would actually significantly harm religious believers by gutting our most prominent religious liberty statute, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Pitched as an act that would prevent abuse of religious freedom, and “restore” RFRA’s “original intent,” the bill would actually treat religious believers differently based on the circumstances of their claim and dictate when RFRA can be applied. Instead of all individuals having access to RFRA as a defense against a government burden on their First Amendment right to freely exercise their religion, the Do No Harm Act explicitly excludes some individuals from RFRA’s protections.

A Threat to a Fair Hearing

At the hearing, Representative Mike Johnson (R-La.), a constitutional lawyer with nearly 20 years of experience working on religious freedom, testified how religious freedom is “often referred to as our first freedom.” The Founders of the United States recognized that everyone should be able to live their lives according to their deeply held beliefs, and never be forced by the government to act in a way contrary to their beliefs. The protection and flourishing of religious liberty was understood to be so vital to the foundation of our nation that it was written as the First Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law establishing religion OR prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” As apparent from this hearing, those on the Left seem to misunderstand the meaning of this constitutional right and the protections that flow from it.

The sentiments expressed by Rep. Johnson used to be understood by both sides of the aisle, a point that he made at this week’s hearing. They certainly were back in 1993 when RFRA was passed unanimously by the House, 97-3 by the Senate, and then signed into law by President Bill Clinton. RFRA promises that a fair hearing will be given to all individuals whose religious freedom has been infringed by the government. That’s it. It does not favor any one ideology over the other or predetermine an outcome. As Matthew Sharp, Senior Counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, testified at the hearing, even when RFRA is used the government often wins.

Disagreement is Not Discrimination

Many proponents of the Do No Harm Act claim it is necessary because discrimination is happening in the name of religious liberty under RFRA. However, there is a big gap between acting on personal convictions and discriminating, or forcing others to believe the same as you. Disagreement is not discrimination. RFRA does not allow individuals to force others to believe the same as them. That is not religious freedom, and RFRA does not protect it.

The Do No Harm Act would be the cause of harm and discrimination, not the alleviator of it. The Little Sisters of the Poor used RFRA in their fight against the government trying to force them to provide contraceptives, but they would no longer be able to bring a RFRA claim under the Do No Harm Act.

The Displacement of Children in Need

A few Democrats made a fuss about the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) using RFRA to grant Miracle Hill Ministries, a faith-based adoption and foster care agency in South Carolina, a waiver from Obama-era regulations still in effect that would force them to violate their conscience or stop serving children in need. Democrats bemoaned the granting of this waiver in the hearing and claimed that such waivers are harmful to the children in need of loving homes.

In fact, the opposite is true. When Catholic Charities was shut down in Illinois, nearly 3,000 children were displaced. When Philadelphia cut its contracts with two of their 30 partner agencies because they were faith-based, foster parents (one of whom was a “foster parent of the year”) were left with empty homes and siblings faced the possibility of not being placed together. Ironically, all this occurred after the city put out an urgent call for hundreds of new foster homes. Birth moms have also expressed their desire to use faith-based agencies to help them navigate the darkest time in their life and to place their child in a home of a particular faith. They deserve that option, but would see it shut down if proponents of the Do No Harm Act get their way.

In Michigan, St. Vincent Catholic Charities is one of the most successful adoption agencies in the state, performing 90 percent better than the other agencies in its area. However, when Michigan attempted to cut ties with the religious organization (which would have severe negative impacts as noted above), the organization was able to team with Becket Law to argue that their rights were being violated. Discovery in the case found that they were clearly being targeted because they were faith-based. Children in their care had been adopted by couples identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) through other agencies in the state. The same-sex couple who sued also lived closer to three or four other agencies they could have worked with. Yet the Do No Harm Act would strip Catholic Charities of the ability to even have their claim heard. This case is ongoing.

A Threat to the Foundation of Peaceful Co-existence

Religious liberty and non-discrimination are not at odds—rather, they promote each other by allowing people to freely act on the values that are most important to them.

Religious freedom was a founding principle of our nation, and it led to the ability for people of all faiths to live together peacefully—because the government never forced them to act against their personal beliefs. RFRA is the door that ensures people will always have recourse in court if the government violates this freedom, yet the Do No Harm Act would shut that door to many.

Mary Beth Waddell is the Senior Legislative Assistant at Family Research Council. Luke Isbell is an intern at Family Research Council.

Adopted or Biological, Children Are a Joyous, Disruptive Mystery

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 19, 2016

Jamie Hughes has written a tender but candid piece on adoption on the valuable Her.Meneutics website. With her husband, she has adopted two sons.

My wife and I also adopted sons, twin boys, when they were three months old. We had prayed for twins for 16 years and, in God’s remarkable kindness, got them, although not in the biological way we initially anticipated. Our boys are now 18 and our daughter, adopted when she was also an infant, turns 13 next month.

What is striking to me about Hughes’ article is that practically everything she describes concerning the adjustments of having young adopted children could be said about having young children, period. None of us knows if our children, biological or adopted, will have exceptional physical, mental, or emotional needs. No one with a small child is unaccustomed to sleepless nights, meal upon meal of packaged food, or disruptions that are frequent, often unnerving, and, in aggregate, wholly draining. Young children are the sworn enemies of efficiency, privacy, predictability, order, and quiet. Always have been, always will be, adopted or biological.

The point of what I’m writing is that nothing Hughes mentions is unique to adoptive parents except, perhaps, various types of attachment disorder in some children and the occasional untoward comment from a tactless observer (“Are they yours?”). For example, as Hughes notes, “There are … holes in the boys’ childhoods, in my understanding of them and how they work, even in their medical histories.” That’s true — but it’s also true for all parents, to one degree or another. Both of my grandfathers died before I was born. I’ve never seen anything about their medical histories and know them only through a handful of anecdotes. I knew my grandmothers barely before each of them died. My many aunts and uncles and some cousins have passed away from a host of causes.

In other words, children provide no guarantees concerning their health, intellectual capacities, motor skills, perception challenges, or any of a host of other things. Adoptive or biological, our children come suddenly into our lives and unmask our selfishness, our self-preoccupation, and our previously unknown resilience in the face of sleep-deprivation and emotional wornness. They awaken in us a fierce love and loyalty that can be arresting in its intensity. They are fallen and finite, filling our lives with joy, grief, regret, and gratitude. They are human, and they are ours.

Jamie Hughes is a lovely Christian woman whose account of her experience with her kids is beautiful. But her experiences are common to all parents, to all mothers and fathers who can hug a child and say, inwardly and with unspeakable contentment, “Mine.” 

Adoption Agency Gets Techie

by Maize Pyburn

October 14, 2015

A recent article from Live Action News details a new approach being taken by an adoption agency to get the pro-life message out to women about to have an abortion. The article explains that Bethany Christian Services (BCS), a global nonprofit organization that provides services such as adoption, foster care, and pregnancy counseling, will use geo-fencing to reach out to women in abortion clinics.

For those unfamiliar with the term “geo-fencing,” it’s a location-based service that can send messages (i.e., advertising) to anyone who enters a pre-set location. A company or organization can select particular locations — in this case, BCS selects abortion centers — into which to send their ads.

So, when someone enters a particular abortion clinic and opens up the internet or an app, geo-fencing allows BCS ads to appear in the app or on the webpage. The intended end result, of course, will be that the woman leaves the clinic and seeks out the assistance of BCS or another pregnancy care center.

Thinking outside the box by creatively using technology is just what the pro-life movement needs to propel its message further — even to the darkest corners of abortion clinics.

Russell Moore Considers Spiritual Warfare & Adoption

by Chris Gacek

June 18, 2015

Russell Moore has released a new, short book on adoption.  It has a fascinating title:  Adoption: What Joseph of Nazareth Can Teach Us about This Countercultural Choice.  It is available from Crossway here, and in Kindle (and paperback) format from Amazon.

In “Adoption and Spiritual Warfare,” an article taken from the book, Dr. Moore makes some dramatic observations:

The protection of children isn’t charity. It isn’t part of a political program fitting somewhere between tax cuts and gun rights or between carbon emission caps and a national service corps.
It’s spiritual warfare.
Our God forbids Israel from offering their children to Molech, a demon-god who demands the violent sacrifice of human babies (Lev. 20:1–5). Indeed, he denounces Molech by name. He further warns that he will cut off from the people of God not only the one who practiced such sacrifice but also all who “at all close their eyes to that man when he gives one of his children to Molech” (Lev. 20:4). Behind Molech, God recognizes, there is one who is “a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44).
The spirit of Molech is at work among us even now.

My colleague at FRC, Pierre Bynum, once observed to me regarding abortion: “Satan wants to kill and destroy all human beings because each person is endowed with the image of God.”  Each human being is an intrinsic enemy – before or after birth.

So, if adoption is inherently an act nurturing human life and expressing love, then Satan believes it must be opposed and eradicated.  The Church, however, is commanded to care for orphans and widows, so we have marching orders in this fight.  As Moore notes, the protection of innocent life isn’t about politics, it lies at the core of Christian obligation.

Adoption May Not Always Be Perfect, but It Saves a Life

by Chris Gacek

June 9, 2015

The actress, Kate Mulgrew, has had a long career extending back to the mid-1970s when she had her first major role on an ABC daytime drama called “Ryan’s Hope.” Mulgrew’s New York Catholic family in “Ryan’s Hope” resembled her own Irish Catholic family with nine children from Dubuque, Iowa. Portraying “Mary Ryan” must have been charted ground for her, but she took a few detours with great consequences. Mulgrew discusses her life in an autobiography, Born with Teeth, that was published this past April.

Relevant for our purposes is her story relating to adoption. Mulgrew moved to New York to study acting when she was just eighteen, and landed her “Ryan’s Hope” role several years later. She was an immediate sensation, but as her career took off she entered into a sexual relationship with a member of the television production staff and became pregnant. They were both very young. Mulgrew didn’t feel that she could raise a child, but she rejected abortion. Instead, Mulgrew let another family adopt her daughter. Mulgrew was allowed only a brief view of her baby, but that never stopped her from thinking about the daughter from whom she had been separated. It turns out they were both searching for each other.

This CBS Sunday Morning interview sheds light on how the reunion came about over twenty years later in 2001. You meet her daughter and see that they do love each other. One gets a palpable sense of the pain Mulgrew and her daughter experienced. There is heartache and regret, but I also thought that Kate Mulgrew needs to give herself a break. After making that initial mistake, she didn’t make the greater one. And, the mistake she did not make has given her a daughter she loves so intensely. A daughter who loves her in return.

Perhaps, it is too much to wish for, but I hope Kate Mulgrew someday could meet Ryan and Bethany Bomberger who run the Radiance Foundation, a pro-adoption organization. Ryan was conceived in a rape but has lived a wonderful life though through his adoption. Here is the Radiance Foundation’s beautiful statement about their campaign, Adopted and Loved:

PLEASE VISIT OUR ADOPTION AWARENESS INITIATIVE: AdoptedandLoved.com. Millions have experienced the beauty of adoption over this past century. Yet very few people understand the reality of how adoption UNLEASHES the Possibility of not just the child, but the family and the community…and sometimes, the world. Sacrifice is at the heart of adoption, and the reward is great. This presentation illuminates adoption, dispels myths, shares moving personal stories, and provides potential adoptive parents tools and online resources to discover how adoption can change lives.

Adoption is a love story, but not always an easy one. Kate Mulgrew, thank you for doing the good thing and the loving thing when the chips were down.

Children of the Heart

by Rob Schwarzwalder

September 23, 2014

Adoption is a regular target of psycho-babbling critics, race-mongerers, ultra-nationalists in countries filled with parentless children, and those who believe children are better warehoused than loved.

In addition to rejecting all of these demonic conceptions, it’s a personal joy for me to affirm the wonder that adoption brings into countless families, including my own.

Bethany Christian Services, through which my wife and I adopted our three children, has connected thousands of moms and dads with children who need the affection and security of a family. In a moving story on how Bethany brought him together with his father and mother here in the States, Ethiopia-born Getenet Timmermans tells how his brother and he “found a family” in Illinois, and with them found love, hope, and a future.

You can read Getenet’s account here. I hope you will, and that you’ll share it with anyone you know skeptical of bearing children from the heart and not just the womb.

Adoption Made Me Love Superman

by Family Research Council

June 18, 2014

Are Superman’s parents aliens, too?”

My nine-year-old brother, Eli, turned to us with curiosity.

No,” Jonas, my teenage brother, replied. “Superman is adopted.”

Eli’s eyes immediately lit up, and a new obsession was born.

Eli is adopted from South Korea. He was brought home to America when he was seven months old, and every year since then we always celebrate that day as a family. He loves hearing us tell the story about how God had a special plan for our family and how excited we were to hold him for the first time.

I was eleven when Eli was born, and so I recall vividly the lengths my parents went to in order to adopt. They had been talking about it ever since I could remember, but demoralizing obstacles continued to get in their way. Birth mothers who backed out, concerns about parental rights, a baby born who only survived for a few days because of mistakes the mother had made while pregnant all seemed to be standing in the way of a successful adoption. Even as a child I couldn’t help but notice the heartbreak each disappointment caused my parents.

Nevertheless, the call on their hearts to adopt only increased as the years passed. Most of all, I remember my dad getting home from a long day at work and rushing to join my mom at the kitchen table. There they would sift through cascading piles of paperwork, make phone calls, and sort through adoption agencies. Eventually, as American agencies continued to be problematic, my parents turned to international adoption and South Korea.

While most children are born out of a few hours of labor, my brother was brought home only after years of labor.

The joy we felt when we were finally matched with Eli by the agency was inexpressible. My family huddled around the picture of him as a newborn. I remember looking at his picture and knowing, beyond a doubt, that I loved him.

Growing up in a small Midwestern town, people were friendly but occasionally naïve about our experience with adoption. Especially once Eli was home, and people would see us at the store or in the park. My family would receive comments like, “You are so generous to have rescued him from wherever he was before this.”

Questions like these reveal a fundamental misunderstanding of adoption, and as an eleven-year-old, I could never understand what they meant. It was difficult for me to comprehend how anyone could consider this overwhelming blessing in my life to be something as one-dimensional as a “rescue mission” or charity. While adoption is, in ways, a charitable act mirroring God’s compassionate adoption of all Christians into His family, it is also so much more. The lessons and love that come with a new child or sibling are independent of the means by which they are joined with the family. There was never a single moment that Eli was categorized in our hearts or minds as an outside individual whom we just happened to bring into our home. Instead, adoption was simply the medium through which God united us with the next member of our family. Despite years of setbacks in the adoption process, God used each disappointment to lead us closer to a specific agency, at a specific time, so that we were matched with the person He had always intended to be my brother.

Now, nearly nine years later, I indulge Eli’s obsession with Superman and watch the 2013 movie Man of Steel with him on repeat. It’s what sisters do.

And although this caped crusader isn’t necessarily my favorite, there is one part of the movie that always stands out to me: the moment that the young Clark Kent realizes he is adopted. The young boy looks up at the man who’s been raising him his whole life, and with a quivering voice, asks, “Can’t I just keep pretending I’m your son?” His father immediately embraces him in a hug, and says firmly, “You are my son.”

The first time Eli saw this scene tears began streaming down his face.

It’s almost impossible to explain the depth of my love for Eli, and how it has no distinction from my love for anyone else in my family. To anyone considering adopting, know that it blesses you in ways you can never imagine. I will forever be grateful that God made our family whole through adoption.

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