Texas Adoption Controversy

5 Comments for “Texas Adoption Controversy”

  1. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Reasonable people can reasonably disagree about whether accepting public funds should prohibit religious organizations that facilitate adoptions from excluding prospective parents who don’t abide by their faith.

    The debate has come to that point, but it should never have reached that point.

    Even just a few years ago, it was unthinkable that an elected official or government employee could blatantly discriminate against citizens on the basis of the official’s or employee’s private religious beliefs, and it was unthinkable that a government-paid contractor acting as an agent of the government the the stead of the government could blatantly discriminate against citizens on the basis of the contractor’s private religious belief.

    What the hell ever happened to the idea that there is a separation of religion and government, a distinction between the private and public realms?

    Religious adoption agencies that wanted to discriminate on the basis of religion used to take care to remain private religious agencies, free of the rules and regulations that inevitably come with accepting government funding and/or acting as an agent of the government, aware of the evils of Mammon.

    Now religious adoption agencies acting in the name and stead of the government expect the government to allow them to discriminate against prospective parents of other religions and be paid for doing so.

    If that is now considered “reasonable”, as I guess it is given that one of our two major political parties now stands for that principle, it is a sea change in American thinking.

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  2. posted by Jorge on

    The debate has come to that point, but it should never have reached that point.

    Well, at least I agree with that much.

    Even just a few years ago, it was unthinkable that an elected official or government employee could blatantly discriminate against citizens on the basis of the official’s or employee’s private religious beliefs, and it was unthinkable that a government-paid contractor acting as an agent of the government the the stead of the government could blatantly discriminate against citizens on the basis of the contractor’s private religious belief.

    Wrong. Just a few years ago, Florida banned adoptions by gay parents outright.

    Though I’m not in the adoption field per se, I am in the child welfare field overall. When dealing with children who are temporarily removed from their parents and must be placed in foster care and considered for adoption, ensuring continuity of religion is mandatory. Some families don’t care, but for those that do, it’s more important than continuity of culture and community, and the Constitution backs them up.

    I would go one step further and suggest that the same applies with parents who sign away their rights at birth. If they are not assured that their child is going to a good home, and their definition of a good home includes continuity of religion, they may decide not to place the child even though they are not ready to care for him or her. And you know what? That would be the right decision.

    The sun doesn’t rise and fall around the firstborn gay son. It is worth remembering that sometimes the “remember the children!” argument is relevant. This is one of those times. Any harm caused to prospective adoptive parents by having a medium fraction of adoption and foster care agencies be religiously based is overwhelmingly outweighed by the benefit of allowing the public to maximize the efficiency with which children placed for adoption remain in families of their religious origin.

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  3. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Though I’m not in the adoption field per se, I am in the child welfare field overall. When dealing with children who are temporarily removed from their parents and must be placed in foster care and considered for adoption, ensuring continuity of religion is mandatory. Some families don’t care, but for those that do, it’s more important than continuity of culture and community, and the Constitution backs them up.

    You do realize, I hope, that the Texas bill permits exactly the opposite result, allowing government-funded private adoption agencies to refuse to serve prospective adoptive parents of the child’s religion:

    About 25 percent of the agencies that are paid by Texas to place children with families are private foster care and adoption organizations. Many of those groups admit they don’t work with adoptive parents who are single, gay or non-Christian, and the bill could keep them from being sued.

    I understand that the importance of religion in this respect, having provided pro bono legal services for private adoptions of Jewish-born children into Jewish homes. I would have it no other way for a Jewish child, because to deny that child adoption into a Jewish home would remove that child from the Chosen, and deprive Judaism of the contributions that might come from that child.

    But — and here’s the thing — the group I worked with was a private, religious organization that did not seek or receive so much as a dime from the government. That’s the way it should be.

    Let me point this out, if it wasn’t already clear from the linked article quoted above: The Texas law is not intended to promote placing Christian** children into Christian homes, Catholic** children into Catholic homes, Mormon** children into Mormon homes, Jewish children into Jewish homes, Muslim children into Muslin homes, and so on.

    The law is intended to permit Christian adoptive agencies to place Catholic, Mormon, Jewish and Muslim children into Christian homes, and to pay the agencies for doing so with government funds. The law does not require the agency to disclose its religious agenda to birth parents putting the child up for adoption. The law is almost certain to result in exactly the opposite of the result you think compelling.

    That aside, though, I don’t understand why the government should fund religious discrimination, any more than I would understand why the government should fund racial discrimination.

    ** By distinguishing Christian, Catholic and Mormon homes from one another, it is not my intention to enter the often heated discussion about whether or not Catholics and Mormons are Christian. I leave that to those in the fight. Not my circus, not my monkeys.

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  4. posted by Lori Heine on

    Evangelicals want to force evangelical Protestantism on everyone. They see adoption as one of the means to do it. That has nothing to do with freedom of religion, as you have ably shown you understand.

    Christianity is my circus, and those are indeed my monkeys. Some of those monkeys are rabid. They’re attempting to hijack government in order to bite everyone–of any religion, or of no religion at all–whose convictions differ from theirs.

    This must be very tiring for people who are constantly being forced to pay attention to a circus that is not their own.

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  5. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Even just a few years ago, it was unthinkable that an elected official or government employee could blatantly discriminate against citizens on the basis of the official’s or employee’s private religious beliefs, and it was unthinkable that a government-paid contractor acting as an agent of the government the the stead of the government could blatantly discriminate against citizens on the basis of the contractor’s private religious belief.

    Wrong. Just a few years ago, Florida banned adoptions by gay parents outright.

    I fail to see how the Florida law counters the statement. It seems to me that the Florida law is an example of across-the-board discrimination by the government-at-large rather than an example of permitted individual discrimination by elected officials, government employees and/or government-paid contractor/agencies on the basis of private religious belief.

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