Karen Strachan, a foster mother of 20 years, is standing up for faith-based organizations in a time when states are punishing adoption agencies that oppose placing children with same-sex couples.
Strachan has not only helped dozens of children, but has adopted 11 kids herself, and has much experience with the process of both foster care and adoption. She recently defended faith-based agencies, stating that she feels they should have the freedom to discern what’s best for the children they work with.
Strachan, who is state-certified to train foster parents, hopes that she will be able continue her work with her “trusted partners and friends” at St. Vincent’s Catholic Charities in Michigan.
Last week, Strachan spoke at an event held by the Heritage Foundation on the regulations faith-based adoption organizations like St. Vincent’s face. Strachan debunked the view that if charities like St. Vincent’s were forced to close, “other agencies could just step in and fill in the gap.”
“That is not true. Their foundational bylaws and the way that they view humanity has a unique impact. It would be devastating if St. Vincent closed their doors,” Strachan explained. “Their faith-based environment makes a tangible difference in the way that they love, and care for, and nurture their families.”
Strachan, also explained that everyone who has gone through St. Vincent’s has applauded their work.
“Personally, I cannot imagine continuing as a foster parent without the loving support or the faith-based relationship and foundation of St. Vincent,” Strachan continued.
Several other pro-adoption figures spoke at Heritage’s event, titled, “Keep Kids First: Prioritizing the Needs of Children in Adoption and Foster Care.”
Eric Teetsel, the President at Family Policy Alliance of Kansas, also spoke about his passion for adoption and particularly faith-based adoption agencies. Teetsel has worked in Kansas to pass a bill that would actively protect the rights of such groups. He argued that this legislation is not about blocking LGBT rights, but protecting the rights of faith-based groups.
“The legal right of same-sex couples to adopt is in 50 states, including Kansas. That existed before our bill and it exists now, after our bill has been signed by the governor,” Teetsel said.
The panel event included other speakers like Strachan’s adopted son, Martin; Emilie Kao, who serves as director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center; and Shannon Royce, the director at the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In recent years, many states have voted on legislation that takes rights away from faith-based groups. Many states have laws that require adoption agencies to same-sex households, regardless of their beliefs. Because of this, faith-based adoption agencies have left states with these rules.
In 2011, Illinois saw this happen when three Catholic dioceses left the state after a civil union law told them they had to place children with same-sex couples.
The House Committee on Ways and Means is currently considering a bill called the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act. If passed, the bill would allow faith-based adoption agencies in all 50 states to place children how they like and would protect them from both the state and federal government interference.
Many have voiced their support of the bill. Most recently, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a letter voicing their approval to House Committee Chair Kevin Brady. Signatures on the letter included the President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Russell Moore, as well as President Tony Perkins from the Family Research Council.
“The Inclusion Act prevents the federal government and states that receive federal funds for child welfare services from excluding adoption and foster care agencies because of their beliefs about what is best for each child,” stated the letter, as reported by The Christian Post. “The Inclusion Act keeps kids first because it empowers a larger number of child welfare providers to recruit and train more loving families that can provide loving homes for more vulnerable children.”
Many LGBT groups have spoken out against the Inclusion Act, arguing that the bill would “undermine the government’s ability to ensure child welfare organizations make decisions based on the best interest of children.”
“[The Inclusion Act] would override state non-discrimination statutes and effectively allow taxpayer funds to be used to discriminate,” stated the Human Rights Campaign. “The legislation uses the pretense of religious freedom to advance rather than bring an end to discrimination in the placement of children for adoption or foster care.”
(H/T: The Christian Post)