Religious Freedom Week: Adoption and Foster Care

The Fortnight For Freedom has been condensed into a single week. The centerpiece focuses on an issue dear to me, but which church leaders tend to miss the available opportunities.

Caring for ‘the orphan’ is a demand of the gospel. Over the centuries, the Church has put this work of charity into practice by building adoption and foster care institutions. Today, the opioid crisis has put a strain on the foster care system. Yet while more children are waiting to be placed in families, faith-based child welfare providers are being targeted for closures because of their religious convictions.

For the past half-century, the number of available infants has nearly vanished. My contacts in diocesan Catholic Charities tell me that adoption services are nearly all voluntarily shut down. There are so few babies and so many parents that it makes little sense to spend so much time and effort on a nearly vanished service.

In places like Illinois, Massachusetts, California, and D.C., the service providers who have a track record of excellence in recruiting and assisting foster families have already been shut down.

The opportunity is placing hundreds of thousands of kids in foster care into permanent homes. If Catholic service providers focused on generating interest in families, including existing households with children, a new track record could be established.

It is true that discrimination issues are afoot.

Worse still, in recent years, states that have worked to protect faith-based adoption and foster care have found themselves targeted by powerful corporations looking to appeal to SOGI activists. Intolerance for religious views has real consequences, and in this case, it is vulnerable children who have suffered. Let’s pray and act to keep kids first.

There is a different morality in play here. It wouldn’t matter if people who did not want to send kids to single parents or gay persons were involved with religion or not. The perception is that the willingness to parent is strong and should be encouraged for any person who passes a set of human requirements.

Catholic groups, if they were serious about praying and acting to keep kids “first,” would focus on the supply of parents to needy boys and girls. I know from experience that state agencies focus on two-parent households, and adults with experience in raising children. My wife’s and my experience was being turned down for thirty-one possible adoptions before the young miss was placed with us. Her placement was more about the advisability for her to be an only child than anything else. That, and her medical condition and legal uncertainty made it scary for a lot of prospective people.

Two weeks, one week: I’m still a skeptic on this initiative. Religious freedom rings more true when the Church supports it for other faiths.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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