LGBT families and individuals in California have enjoyed the right to adopt since 2016, increasing the likelihood that needy children will find a well-fitting home within the adoption system. However, in other parts of the country, faith-based child placement agencies and local adoption initiatives are coming to a head over the right to discriminate against same-sex households when seeking adoptive parents for children within religious organizations.
The Washington Examiner reported that in 2018, the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, stood up in the interest of LGBT families turned away due to doctrinal beliefs by refusing to coordinate adoption efforts with Catholic Social Services. In turn, the local Catholic Archdiocese upheld the decision to continue placing children with heterosexual adoptive parents only.
As of January 2020, 11 states have passed bills that allow faith-based adoption agencies to deny couples on the sole basis of sexual orientation, and two more are currently debating similar legislation. It is unknown exactly how many orphan children will be directly affected by this reduced pool of eligible homes. However, many of these local conflicts are resulting in adoption freezes, which leave needy kids in the system and potential parents with empty beds.
In the aftermath, same-sex rights and adoption advocates are pushing back against the statutory protection these religious groups have to uphold discriminatory practices based on moral principles. After numerous refusals by the courts to strike down religious beliefs as a legitimate basis for LGBT adoption discrimination, the fight is now going to the U.S. Supreme Court.
While California remains on the progressive side of same-sex rights where parenting and adoptions are concerned, LGBT couples still face unique issues when starting a family. Same-sex couples should consider working with an LGBT-friendly attorney to begin the adoption process.