Catholic Charities Abandons Thousands of Children Instead of Adopting to LGBT Parents

15 Nov

It seems one of the final frontiers in the struggle for equality for LGBT families is teaching the rest of the world that we are incredible parents and that our families not only deserve equality, but we are suffering without it.

Even some who I once considered allies in our fight have said to me “I think you should be able to get married, but I really believe children should have a mother and father” or “gay people should not be allowed to adopt.” This belief stems from generations of lies which make people think of gays and lesbians as pedophiles. From public service announcements in the 50’s to anti-gay hate groups scraping to connect the recent child rape tragedy at Penn State with gay men, we have never been at a loss for people who – even subconsciously – carry this ignorant defamation.

In 2005, I was lucky enough to go on Rosie O’Donnell’s first “R Family Cruise.” I watched shows, had conversations with LGBT parents and I wished that some of the people who have spoken so falsely about us could see how much love there was there.

Almost every one of these children had to be fought for – some parents lived in states where same-sex parent adoption was not legal and some fought tooth-and-nail through divorces where anti-gay judges refused custody because one parent was gay. And I thought – how many heterosexual parents do I know that can truly say they had to fight for their children – legally – in court? How many straight parents do I know had the state they live in tell them they have no rights as a parent?

Well, times are changing.

Every reliable study that has been done, has proven again and again that LGBT parents are just as, if not better equipped to parent than opposite-gender parents. And a recent study released by the Family Equality Council shows us all the great inequalities our well-equipped families are facing all over the U.S. And in the past decade, the number of lesbian and gay adoptive couples has tripled.

Anti-Gay Governor Bob McDonnell

In states across the country, adoption agencies are still discriminating against gay and lesbian parents. In Virginia, a study was done by the previous governor which confirmed what every other reasonable study has found – that we make excellent parents. But of course, under the current anti-gay administration, all the scientific findings were dismissed and the lesbian and gay adoption ban was left in place by Republican Governor Bob McDonnell. This, despite the fact that there are more than 6,000 children in the Virginia foster care system waiting for a forever home.

Catholic Charities in many states have fought tooth-and-nail against laws which require adoption agencies treat all families equally. And after a hard-fought battle in Illionois, Catholic Charities has chosen to abandon up to 2,200 children instead of allowing them to be placed with capable, loving gay and lesbian parents. Several Catholic Charities Adoption Agencies have chosen to do the same in other states. Over and over again, the Catholic dioceses have made the conscious decision to abandon orphans and foster children rather than place them in loving, forever homes, based on nothing in their actual belief system.

As the Bible clearly says zero about lesbians and gays raising children, the choice to close down their agencies has nothing to do with their religion and everything to do with wrongfully-held beliefs based on nothing but rumors and baseless fear tactics created decades ago. It is indeed heartbreaking to see those who claim “Christian” beliefs act so hatefully by leaving thousands of children with nothing to fall back on.

Fortunately, Catholic Charities around the country represent a tiny sliver of all the adoptions that take place on a regular basis and the children represented by them will be taken in by state agencies which do not practice discrimination. So, at the end of the day, this is a good thing and those kids will now have a much greater shot at finding their forever home.

9 Responses to “Catholic Charities Abandons Thousands of Children Instead of Adopting to LGBT Parents”

  1. Clark November 15, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    Catholic Charities did not abandon children. The State of Illinois decided not to renew contracts with Catholic Charities. Multiple Catholic Charities entitles were fighting in court to have their contracts renewed but determined it was a better approach to use funds to serve children than pay lawyers. Please remove the inaccurate, political language from your description of this matter. You can make your case with neutral and accurate language and this will better serve your readers. Thank you and best wishes.

    • Jamie McGonnigal November 15, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

      If only what you were saying was true. The state of Illinois gave upwards of $30 million annually to Catholic Charities to run adoption agencies. When money comes from the state, the organizations receiving that money must operate within the confines of that state’s laws. When the state of Illinois informed Catholic Charities that it must respect the equality laws it had passed, Catholic Charities CHOSE not to participate within the confines of the state’s laws. Catholic Charities put their non-biblically based prejudices ahead of the welfare of the children who benefited from their services.

      And if it was so important for these Catholic Charities to use funds to serve children instead of paying lawyers, why did they shut down? That’s not serving the children – actually…wait, hold on…yup…I just figured it out – by making the choice to shut down rather than put children in loving, forever homes, that would be the OPPOSITE of serving the children. That would be ABANDONING the children. Or did I miss something here?

      • Clark November 15, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

        It’s clear you feel anger about this topic and I’m sorry about that but, yes, you have missed much. I’m actually an adoptive father so I understand a little bit about this topic. I’m also Catholic and live in Illinois. It is important to present this topic (which is fraught with emotion) in clear, neutral language.

        The State of Illinois interpreted recently passed legislation in a manner than is not universally accepted. Many believe that the legislation preserves the right for organizations such as Catholic Charities to maintain adherence to their religious beliefs (whether you or anyone else agrees with them) as it relates to the providing of social services. The Secretary of State of Illinois interpreted this legislation differently.

        The legal question is not as clear cut as you present. Catholic Charities wants to serve children and believes it was operating in conformance with the new law. In fact, many folks in Illinois supported the legislation with the understanding that this right of conscience would be preserved. Catholic Charities could have continued to litigate their case. They chose not to.

        Catholic Charities, Jamie, is one of the largest social service agencies in the country. It serves children across our country. It does so in keeping with the Catholic faith as interpreted by the Church. In winding down these program, great care was taken to transition foster children in to programs run by other, competent agencies. There was NO abandonment in this case and, frankly, it is irresponsible to suggest there was.

        I wish you peace and healing.

      • Jamie McGonnigal November 15, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

        Yes, Clark, I feel anger whenever an organization that claims to care about children makes the active choice to put their non-religiously based, ignorant and discriminatory beliefs ahead of the well-being of those children.

        The Civil Unions Law as I read it, quite specifically protects religiously-based adoption agencies from having to do anything outside their belief structure, as flawed, hypocritical and un-Christian as that belief structure may be.

        “The Act would ensure that religious denominations are not forced to recognize or solemnize civil unions. The Act expressly provides that: “Nothing in this Act shall interfere with or regulate the religious practice of any religious body. Any religious body, Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group is free to choose whether or not to solemnize or officiate a civil union.” Every religious tradition can decide for itself whether or not to officiate at civil union ceremonies.
        This Act would also not impact faith-based adoption agencies or adoption procedures. The Act does not amend the Adoption Act.”

        But this is not a case of Catholic Charities being discriminated against. This is a case of the state of Illinois making the choice to no longer give taxpayer’s dollars to an organization which discriminates against some of Illinois’ citizens. Doesn’t the state have a right obligation to do business with organizations which respect the rights of all its’ citizens? Should Illinois choose to fund an adoption agency that discriminates against Catholics? Or how about a state tax exemption that is not open to Muslims? Of course not. How is this any different?

        Catholic Charities has every right to continue practicing it’s bigotry in any way it sees fit, but it does not have a right to demand taxpayer dollars in doing so.

  2. Clark November 16, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    Thanks, Jamie, for making my point. Your original claim was that Catholic Charities abandoned children. You now agree that the State of Illinois made the choice that has let to the disruption of hundreds of foster parent – agency relationships. Thank you for acknowledging the facts.

    As for your claims that Catholic Charities is ignorant and your implications it does not truly care about children, I suggest you get to know Catholic Charities’ work. Meet with the individuals the organization serves. Develop a position that is informed beyond one news event that happened a thousand miles from where you live.

    Separately, I’d suggest you visit your local Catholic parish. Talk to the people there. Talk to the priest. You may find in your local parish — as I did in mine — that there are many members of all sexual orientations that love and respect one another.

    • Jamie McGonnigal November 16, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

      No, I did not make your point. Catholic Charities made the conscious decision to no longer care for children rather than adopt to parents who, every reliable study has shown, are just as good if not better parents than opposite-sex parents.

      I’ve spent plenty of time in Catholic parishes, and I choose not to spend any more time there after my local priest abused 17 of my childhood friends – and was then moved to three other parishes by the Catholic Church, where he continued these abuses – all the while protected by the same rules that apparently forbid Catholic Charities from putting foster children in safe, loving, forever homes. The hypocrisy is mind-numbing.

      You failed to answer my question to you, as those on your side are wont to do. So let me repeat it:

      Doesn’t the state have an obligation to do business with organizations which respect the rights of all its’ citizens? Should Illinois choose to fund an adoption agency that discriminates against Catholics? Or how about a state tax exemption that is not open to Muslims? Of course not. How is this any different?

      • Clark November 22, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

        I am very sorry for your friends and for your community. The abuse you describe is horrible and inexcusable. Fr. Robert Barron, a priest in Chicago who has just created a documentary that just aired on PBS called “Catholicism”, says that the truth of the Church is held in earthen vessels. Across the ages, people in the Church have failed. Tragically, the sexual abuse crisis of the Church is the most recent example. I hope you, your friends and the rest of your community find healing.

        It’s important, however, not to compare apples and oranges. It’s a big stretch to liken the failure of Catholic priests and bishops to report sexual abuse to Catholic Charities decision regarding the handling of foster care services. Reading implications that they are the same thing is mind-numbing.

        Here’s my answer to your questions: The State of Illinois is required to follow its own laws. The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act (how about that for a name) was intended, many thought, in part to preserve the ability for Catholic Charities not to place foster and adopted children with unmarried individuals of all kinds. Catholic Charities doesn’t discriminate against individuals because of their gender, race or sexual preference. It upholds a religious belief regarding the relationship between marriage and family. I agree with you that the State should refuse to do business with organizations which discriminate against individuals based on gender, race or sexual preference. This just isn’t one of those cases.

        Finally, I strongly encourage you to catch “Catholicism” when it airs in your area. Certain episodes are airing Nov 26 and 28 on WNET in New York and on other dates across the country. It was produced by Mike Leonard, longtime reporter on The Today Show. It will provide a level of understanding of the Catholic faith that will inform your future writing.

        Thanks for engaging in this dialogue and please have a happy Thanksgiving.

      • Jamie McGonnigal November 23, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

        Firstly, it’s sexual orientation and not preference. If it was preference, you could decide one day that you prefer to be in relationships with men. Every reputable study has shown that sexuality is not a preference. Moving past your ignorant assumption that sexuality is a choice…

        What is this case if it is not about Catholic Charities making the choice to stick with their discriminatory policies and not allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt? You said… “Catholic Charities doesn’t discriminate against individuals because of their gender, race or sexual preference.” This is simply false. If this was actually the truth, women could hold positions of power within the church, even become priests. And if this was actually the truth, Catholic Charities would have no problem adopting children to gay and lesbian couples. By using rules that say men can do one thing and women cannot do that thing or straight couples can do one thing and gay and lesbian couples cannot – the Catholic Church by definition is discriminating.

  3. Clark December 2, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    Let’s be precise so as not to confuse things. Catholic Charities discriminates against unmarried people (irrespective of their sexual orientation) as it relates to the provision of adoption and foster care services. Unmarried heterosexuals will find they cannot adopt through Catholic Charities. The Catholic faith provides insight to followers regarding the nature of marriage as well as the nature of the priesthood. You will interpret this as discrimination. But it is a belief based upon an article of religious faith. Please refer to the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act to learn how such articles of faith are to be preserved.

    Incidentally, my usage of “preference” rather than “orientation” was not done out of ignorance. Just a simple mistaken word choice. Thanks for correcting me, Jamie.

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