Saturday, May 7, 2011

Adoption news: federal anti-discrimination bill reintroduced; Catholic Charities threatens Illinois; Evangelicals cut ethical corners and worse

California Rep. Pete Stark this week reintroduced the Every Child Deserves a Family Act. The bill prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, marital status, and gender identity by an entity that receives federal funding for adoption services or contracts with an entity that receives such federal funding. Meanwhile, with Illinois authorizing civil unions as of June 1, Catholic Charities there this week urged passage of legislation that would allow them to (continue to) discriminate against same-sex couples. Catholic Charities is sounding an alarm that it might have to stop providing adoption and foster care services in Illinois. Well, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act would override any such legislation (not that Illinois seems inclined to go in that direction). The federal statute would mean that no agency under contract to a state could discriminate on any of the named bases.

I'm proud of the state legislators (and those in my home town of the District of Columbia, which should be a state but isn't...that's another story) who stand up to Catholic Charities and let them know that others can provide the services they now provide if they wish to discriminate. Illinois Catholic Charities wants to get away with saying that they will refer same-sex couples to other agencies, as though that makes their own discrimination okay.

Meanwhile, thanks to Mombian blogger Dana Rudolph, who also writes for Keen News Service, for alerting me to an adoption story I missed last month. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a memo urging child welfare agencies to better serve the needs of LGBTQ youth. As Rudolph describes in this story, HHS administrator Bryan Samuels also said that “LGBT parents should be considered among the available options for States and jurisdictions to provide timely and safe placement of children in need of foster or adoptive homes.”

Same-sex couples and LGBT individuals who want to become adoptive parents have fewer opportunities of adopting from overseas than were available previously. That's not about being gay; it's about the overall decrease in international adoptions. Last year international adoptions were down 50% from the all-time high in 2004. Last year's total was the lowest since 1994. (Read some of the statistics here.) As this post points out, fewer is better if the larger numbers resulted from corruption and baby stealing. In March, Ethiopia, which had had a rising number of overseas adoptions, announced a massive slow down in the processing of international adoptions because of the problems there.

Finally, if you were not aware of the Christian evangelical international adoption crusade -- folks who do far worse than just cut corners to "rescue" children for God --, you won't want to miss Kathryn Joyce's chilling piece in last week's Nation magazine. These people are pushing for increases in international adoption, including advocating legislation that would give financial incentives to developing countries that cooperate in sending their children for adoption to the United States. Because of the drastic decrease in international adoptions, there is a danger that secular agencies will join with these Christian evangelicals. Joyce reports that the Christian adoption crusade has friends on Capitol Hill poised to introduced legislation that might look benign but is actually designed to foster practices that are unethical -- except in the minds of those who proclaim, as Joyce reports, that they are following God's law, not man's laws.

A common anti-gay trope is that our desire for children is adult-centered, not child-centered, and that we want to recruit. I have never read anything about adopting children that was less child-centered and more about recruiting than this terrifying piece of investigative journalism.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Nancy!

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