Tag: agency

“Serving children should not be controversial” – Evangelical Adoption Agency Opens to LGBTQ Parents Nationwide

"Serving children should not be controversial” - Evangelical Adoption Agency

Bethany Christian Services, the largest Protestant adoption and foster care agency in the U.S., announced yesterday that it will begin placing children with LGBTQ parents nationwide, reports the New York Times.

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Image by marcisim from Pixabay

Correspondent Ruth Graham writes that Bethany had an informal policy of referring LGBTQ people to other agencies, but individual branches of the agency, which has offices in 32 states, sometimes chose to serve them. In Philadelphia, where a different Christian agency’s refusal to work with LGBTQ people has taken them to the U.S. Supreme Court in a case (Fulton v. City of Philadelphia) whose outcome is pending, the local Bethany branch changed its policy to comply with city nondiscrimination statutes. Because the agency took taxpayer money for its services, it was bound by the city’s statutes. Now, Bethany’s national board has unanimously enacted a policy of inclusion for all of its branches.

Graham reports that President and CEO Chris Palusky said in an e-mail to the organization’s 1500 staff members, “We will now offer services with the love and compassion of Jesus to the many types of families who exist in our world today. We’re taking an all hands on deck’ approach where all are welcome.”

And board member Susanne Jordan told Graham that while she recognizes they may lose some donors because of the new policy, “Serving children should not be controversial.”

This is terrific news that will make more homes and parents available to children in care. And as the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) showed in a report released last December, more than 1,200 child placement agencies contract with city, county, and/or state governments to care for children. Of those, 39.8 percent agencies are religiously affiliated, mostly (88 percent) with mainstream Christian denominations. MAP noted that even if the Supreme Court rules in favor of discrimination, not all religiously affiliated agencies would choose to do so—and Bethany’s move reinforces that claim.

At the same time, MAP warned, “The risk is not merely hypothetical. There are already clear examples of agencies seeking the ability to discriminate. And a June 2020 survey by the Center for American Progress and NORC at the University of Chicago found that two in five LGBTQ people said it would be “very difficult” or “not possible” to find another child placement agency if they were turned away by one.

So: Good news, but not a reason to take our eyes off the ball. Want to know how you can help fight religiously based discrimination against LGBTQ parents and ensure that all children, including LGBTQ youth and youth of color, get culturally competent, safe, and supportive care? Visit the Every Child Deserves a Family campaign to learn more.

Major Christian adoption agency in U.S. to start working with LGBTQ people / Queerty

Major Christian adoption agency in U.S. to start working with

Gay dads with their son
Posed by models (Photo: Shutterstock)

A major, evangelical-run adoption and fostering agency in the U.S. has informed staff that it will extend its services to LGBTQ people.

The Michigan-based Bethany Christian Services was established 77 years ago. Until recently, it did not allow same-sex couples to adopt or foster. It would typically refer gay couples to other agencies.

That changed in Michigan in 2019 after the state said it would stop funding adoption agencies that discriminated against gay people.

Bethany changed its policies within the state following that ruling. Now, in a memo sent to staff nationwide on Monday, it has said that it will be extending its more inclusive policy across the U.S., with immediate effect.

Related: They survived Mormonism. Can these gay dads survive triplets?

In an email sent to 1,500 staff, and reported by the New York Times, the organization’s President and Chief Executive, Chris Palusky, said, “We will now offer services with the love and compassion of Jesus to the many types of families who exist in our world today.

“We’re taking an ‘all hands on deck’ approach where all are welcome.”

Bethany operates in 32 states. In 2019, it facilitated 3,406 foster placements and 1,123 adoptions. Besides Michigan, it had already begun to work with LGBTQ families in four other states, often following the threat of losing contracts or funding being cut if it did not do so.

Bethany Christian Services turned away a lesbian couple in 2018 in Philadelphia, with a representative telling them the agency had never placed a child with a same-sex couple. The city subsequently suspended its contract with Bethany and another Christian agency: Catholic Social Services.

Bethany promptly changed its policy in the region, but Catholic Social Services took the matter to court. The Supreme Court is due to announce a ruling on that case this summer.

Bethany’s new policy was quietly, unanimously approved by its 14-member national board on January 21st. It does not use the phrase ‘LGBTQ’ but instead says it will, “implement a nationwide policy of inclusivity in order to serve all families.”

“Faith in Jesus is at the core of our mission. But we are not claiming a position on the various doctrinal issues about which Christians of mutual good faith may disagree,” Nate Bult, Bethany’s vice president said, reports Christianity Today.

“We acknowledge that discussions about doctrine are important, but our sole job is to determine if a family can provide a safe, stable environment for children.”

Related: This single gay dad adopted a baby girl with Down syndrome after she was rejected by 20 families

One board member, Susanne Jordan told the New York Times, the agency expected some criticism from some Christian groups over the policy change.

“We recognize there are people who will not be happy. We may lose some donors. But the message we’re trying to give is inviting people alongside of us. Serving children should not be controversial.”