Michigan allows religious adoption agencies to turn away couples of which they disapprove

Timothy Kincaid

June 12th, 2015

The state of Michigan has approved three bills that will authorize religious-based adoption agencies to turn away certain applicants.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday quickly signed controversial legislation allowing adoption agencies that contract with the state to decline service to prospective parents on religious grounds.

The laws impact about 17 of the state’s 62 adoption agencies and requires that all religious agencies keep referral lists so that they can send prospective couples to alternate facilities. The Governor’s rationale for signing the bills is that without the protection, some of the agencies would close and that this would result in fewer children being placed in homes.

I don’t object to adoption agencies that target their placement. If a Catholic woman wants to be certain that her son is raised respecting the beliefs and traditions of her faith, I have no problem with her going to a Catholic adoption agency that will place the child with a Catholic family.

But don’t ask me to pay for it. It stops being “charity” when you get paid to do it.

Funding religious service providers has always been a tricky proposition. But for as long as they did not discriminate in the services they provide, the state could not exclude certain providers just because they were religious.

But these bills change the ground rules. These specifically say that contractors CAN discriminate, using taxpayer funds, so long as it’s based on a religious reason. And that is an unjustifiable position for a state. If a state contractor cannot provide services to all citizens on an equal and fair basis, then it’s time to go be a charity again.

I think that the legislators and Governor in Michigan will regret this decision. While it is intended to protect religious adoption agencies from placing children with gay couples, laws tend to never stay in the box for which they were intended. Unable to just come out and say “you can refuse gay people”, the legislature used the vaguer concept of ‘religious objection’ and that is a notion that is very broad.

Of course Catholics won’t place children with gay couples. That’s a violation of their beliefs. But can they, in good conscience, place children with Satanists? I mean, c’mon, Satanists?

And then there’s Wiccans. And Pagans. Surely a Christian organization doesn’t have to place children in the homes of people who worship demon spirits in trees and lakes.

And certainly we don’t want to place Christian children with Jews, where they won’t be taught Jesus or go to heaven. Or Hindus; they’re idol worshipers. Or Muslim – definitely not Muslims. Or the crazy Pentecostals.

And, of course, atheists. Or those who are irreligious. A child needs a good moral structure.

And the list goes on. And on. All with good religious reasons.

All on the state’s dollar.

And that’s a nightmare.

Mark F.

June 12th, 2015

Yep, good points! No discrimination on the taxpayer’s dime.

Priya Lynn

June 12th, 2015

“If a Catholic woman wants to be certain that her son is raised respecting the beliefs and traditions of her faith, I have no problem with her going to a Catholic adoption agency that will place the child with a Catholic family.”

Once you give up the child for adoption you give up your right to decide how the child is raised. As part of the social contract no business that serves the public should be allowed to discriminate against any of the public – we’re not animals.

Timothy Kincaid

June 12th, 2015

I also think that if an atheist wants her child to be raised without superstitious nonsense or religious claptrap, her request should be honored. Don’t you?


June 12th, 2015

The anti-gay posturing is meant to distract the Michiganders from the fact that the state is tanking fast, that numerous cities have been taken over by appointed city managers, effectively depriving the inhabitants of a vote on civic matters. The state is aiming to be a cold version of Arkansas.

Priya Lynn

June 12th, 2015

“I also think that if an atheist wants her child to be raised without superstitious nonsense or religious claptrap, her request should be honored. Don’t you?”.

Same deal. Once you give up the child for adoption you have no say in how it is raised.

Priya Lynn

June 12th, 2015

And to the best of my knowledge there are no atheist adoption agencies or any adoption agency that would grant such a request from an atheist mother.

Priya Lynn

June 12th, 2015

There’s always more children up for adoption than there are families wanting to adopt. If a Catholic adoption agency refuses to adopt a child to anyone other than a Catholic family that increases the odds of that child growing up in an institution rather than with a family that adopts them. Its in the best interests of children in adoption agencies for the agencie to have the broadest possible pool of prospective parents to adopt to. It is immoral to restrict adoptions.


June 12th, 2015

Priya, there may not be atheist adoption agencies, but there is at least one agency in NC that works with mothers to place infants with families of whom the mother approves. I’m not sure what the circumstances are, but I’m sure you can think of ways where it would be nice to give the biological parent(s) some influence in the rearing of the child they have to give up. We just don’t know what the circumstances are that lead people to have to give up their children, and it would seem cruel to me to cut off all influence under every circumstance.

But, of course, that isn’t what this debate is about. What I want to know is why this took 3 bills to enact?


June 12th, 2015

There is also the phenomenon of “open adoption,” where the birth mother selects the adoptive parents, and a mediator works with all parties to determine a schedule of visitation, photos, letters and other contact. In those situations, the mother has almost total control over what type of family the child will be adopted into. Dan Savage writes about the experience he and his husband had in the open adoption of their son in his book “the Kid,” which I highly recommend.

As for this Michigan law, I find it interesting that no religious adoption agency, which become public accommodations once they stop limiting services to those of their religion, has complained about federal and state laws that require them to consider adulterers, fornicators, heretics and blasphemers, among other sinners, as potential parents. It was only with the advent of adoption by gays and lesbians, which has been going on far longer than marriage equality, that they started to complain. It’s also pertinent to note that Catholic Charities in Boston placed 13 children in same-sex couple households in roughly the 10 years before marriage equality came to the Bay State, all through the foster system (therefore with state $$) and all successfully. The children were considered “hard to adopt,” and some reports indicate 1/4 of all “hard to adopt” children who are adopted nationwide go to gay and lesbian couples. Boston’s Catholic Charities (which was specifically created as a secular charitable arm of the church) only stopped adoptions altogether when Sean O’Malley, the current head of the diocese (he took over for the corruption that was Bernard Law) found out the agency was complying with Mass state law and demanded they stop. In protest 8 out of 41 members of the agency’s Board of Directors quit.

Priya Lynn

June 12th, 2015

No Nathaniel, I see no reason to give a mother adopting her child out any say in how it is raised.


June 12th, 2015

Open adoptions are pretty common for infant adoptions. The birth mother chooses the family in an open adoption and there is an arrangement until the child is an adult. My husband and I were selected by our son’s birth mother, took care of the new born in the maternity ward and send birth mom annual reports and pictures. She can request to see him (and so can our son) but, as his parents we have final say. He is 10 yrs old and he hasn’t met his birth mother. I know my husband and I would be open to them meeting–meeting my birth mother (although much later in life) was a good thing for me.

Birth mothers making arrangements for the lives of their child has nothing to do with the “new” MI law. This is all about protecting religious liberty–opps, I mean codifying religious discrimination.

Priya Lynn

June 12th, 2015

With there being more children waiting to be adopted than there are people willing to adopt them, getting pickey about potential adoptive parents is a bad idea. Adoption agencies shouldn’t be turning away potential parents because the birth mother wants someone in particular.


June 13th, 2015

Priya, they aren’t turning away potential parents. Such agencies keep a list of potential parents and contact them when they have a child in need. Also, birth mother can only be so picky – if she is giving up her child, she can only choose parents who are available through the agency. Moreover, potential parents working through such agencies are also being rather choosy, seeking a particular age, for example. With so many kids needing adoption, why don’t they have to take the most needy kid first? I think it has to do with the fact that we are dealing with human beings, and they rarely fit neatly into little black-or-white boxes.

Priya Lynn

June 13th, 2015

Not convinced Nathaniel.

Regan DuCasse

June 19th, 2015

As we speak, people I know, the gay/transgender parents of two adoptive children, are finding themselves in a legal turmoil, because the criminal, homeless, jobless father of their youngest, has decided he wants parental rights.

There were coming here to LA, and I was going to be helping them out during their month here. Now, they won’t be able to come, while they fight this crisis.
I know how such bio units can be. They can be THE most useless, worthless, even dangerous person in their child’s life, but blood gets more deference.
It’s a real concern. This father has no means of supporting his child, and he’s got a criminal record for a number of things.
But it’s how it affects the CHILD in other ways that matter. I saw this with my drug addict cousin, who had SIX kids, she never raised. Her first, my family tried to intervene, always caring for him, while she would be off, no one knowing where she was.
Or she’d leave him with equally irresponsible idiots that scared him.
She’d call and say things to him, that upset him, then he’d act out in other ways.
Some parents NEVER deserve contact, it’s too much for the child. And it can go on for years.
My step mother finally petitioned to adopt my cousin, then she moved 3,000 miles away to keep his mother from having any further negative influence on him.
That kind of thing can damage a kid WELL into their late teens. Believe me, I know.
These are the very at risk teens my father and myself have mentored because of it.
Some parents, usually the MOTHER, who chooses the adoptive family or has a say, will pick the gay family if they are given that choice at all.
But for these agencies to completely shut out gay parents, is irresponsible on their part from the outset.
As Priya has said, supply is FAR exceeding demand.

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