Yet another successful US adoption agency is being threatened and told to change its policies, or shut down. The reason? A preference for placing children with a married mother and father.
The Washington Examiner reports that New Hope Family Services, located in Syracuse, New York, has just received an ultimatum from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OFCS): either “revise its policy prioritizing the placement of the children it serves in homes with a married mother and father, or close.”
OFCS sent the faith-based, not-for-profit adoption agency a letter in October, after making a site visit to the facility. Originally OFCS praised the organization and its work, citing “a number of strengths in providing adoption services within the community.” But city officials later changed their position after reviewing New Hope’s policies related to child placements, calling them “discriminatory and impermissible”, on account of the policies related to marriage being faith-based.
New Hope Family Services has placed upwards of 1,000 children in adoptive families since its doors opened in 1965. The private agency receives no state or government funding, but is instead financially supported by churches, private grants, and individual donors.
The pending threat against New Hope is merely the latest in a long line of religiously-affiliated adoption agencies being targeted for placing children in homes with married parents. The Daily Signal reported in August that Catholic Charities in Buffalo, New York was forced to shut down its adoption program after city officials issued a similar ultimatum. The Heritage Foundation also cited examples of private faith-based adoption agencies coming under attack in Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., and Illinois for not placing children with parents belonging to same-sex unions.
According to a report by the Heritage Foundation titled “Adoption, Foster Care, and Conscience Protection”:
Regardless of how states decide to craft policy allowing unmarried individuals or same-sex couples to adopt children, private providers should not be forced to violate their beliefs. Public agencies and some private providers, when allowed by state law, can choose to license unmarried and same-sex couples for adoption. Nothing is taken away if other private providers decline to do so. The legal right of an unmarried or same-sex couple to adopt, where it exists, should not require every adoption provider to perform such adoptions: Requiring that they do so places the interests of adults over those of children, the exact opposite of what good policy on adoption should do.
The report goes on to add that:
Protecting the freedom of private and faith-based organizations to work in accordance with their values does not prohibit individuals and couples from using state-run or other private providers that do not operate according to those principles. A diversity of providers only increases the chances that more children and teens waiting for adoption will finally be connected with a permanent, loving family.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is currently providing legal representation and counsel to New Hope Family Services. ADF asked a federal court earlier this month to stop city officials in Albany from targeting the adoption agency.
“Every child deserves a forever home with loving parents,” ADF Legal Counsel Jeana Hallock said.
“For over 50 years, New Hope has served New York by offering a comprehensive, ‘arm-around-the-shoulder’ ministry and walking with adoptive couples and birth parents to place children with adoptive families," she said. "Protecting these nonprofits does nothing to interfere with other adoption providers who hold different convictions. But eliminating New Hope as a faith-based adoption provider means fewer kids find a forever home, fewer adoptive parents will ever welcome their new child, and fewer birth parents enjoy the exceptional support that New Hope has offered for decades. In short, everyone loses if the government forces New Hope to shut down.”