At the end of 2015, it was reported that there were more than 427,000 children in the foster care system in the United States. While the number of adoptions from the foster care system did increase from 54,000 in 2015 to 57,000 in 2016, that still leaves thousands of children in the care of the state.
In some states, these children are being denied the opportunity to be adopted into a loving and stable home — simply because the potential adoptive parents are members of the LGBTQ community. Let’s take a closer look inside the fight against the anti-LGBTQ adoption bills that are popping up across America.
8 States and Counting
Eight states so far have passed laws that either completely ban LGBTQ couples from adopting children or allow adoption agencies to claim a religious exemption — basically, these agencies are now allowed to deny adoptions applications for same-sex couples based on the agency’s religious preferences.
Initially, same-sex couples had trouble adopting because in most states, they weren’t able to get married. The case that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2016, Obergefell vs. Hodges, became a historical event that changed America for the better.
It also gave supreme court judges in Mississippi the ammunition they needed to overturn the state’s LGBTQ adoption law, ruling that it violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment — the same clause that was used to win the same-sex marriage case.
In spite of this obvious constitutional violation, eight states – Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia, Texas, Michigan, Oklahoma and North and South Dakota — all have laws in place that severely limit adoption by same-sex couples, thanks to some loopholes. A ninth state — Kansas — may soon be joining this list as well.
One of the primary tenants of the United States Constitution is freedom of religion. This is one of our basic rights, but unfortunately, this right is being abused to deny LGBTQ couples the ability to adopt in eight states. While state adoption agencies can’t deny an adoption application based on the parents’ sexual orientation, private adoption agencies — working for the state as contractors — have the right to deny any application based on the agency’s religious beliefs.
This isn’t just a negative for LGBTQ individuals, though they are the ones being primarily targeted. The laws in these states could allow private adoption agencies to deny parents who are Pagan, Muslim or any who practice any religion other than the ones that are approved of by the agency.
These loopholes aren’t just hurting potential parents, though — they’re devastating to the hundreds of thousands of children who are spending years in the foster care system in these states.
One Bright Spot
Not all states are working against LGBTQ parents adopting children from the foster care system. In a move that is exactly opposite to what the eight states listed above are doing, Connecticut, in conjunction with the state’s Department of Children and Families, just started a campaign to actively recruit LGBTQ couples to foster and adopt within the state.
New York and San Francisco have similar initiatives, but their programs aren’t statewide — yet at least.
This is one bright spot in a fight that is far from over. Imagine what the community could do if the individual state governments stopped fighting so hard against LGBTQ adoption and instead followed Connecticut’s lead and tried to bring foster and adoptive families together?