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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm probably borrowing trouble here, but this really has me tweaked, so I decided to vent about it.<br><br>
I run a list for parents who are interested in, who are in the process of, or who have adopted HIV+ kids.<br><br>
Someone posted today about a certain little boy who is available for adoption and stated that the child is represented by an agency that only places kids in Christian homes.<br><br>
Ok, WTF?<br><br>
We have already adopted a boy of this boy's age in a transracial international adoption (this boy is black, lives in another country). We have already adopted a child with HIV, which this boy has. If we were looking to add to our family and wanted to adopt this child, we would not be allowed to, even if we might be excellently equipped to handle this boy's challenges. Even if we would love him completely. Because we are Buddhist.<br><br>
How can this be legal?? I don't think an agency should be able to do that. It's religious discrimination, plain and simple, and it is definitely NOT in this boy's best interest to limit potential families only to nice Christian ones. How could any agency in good conscience do that? The implication is that children deserve a decent Christian home, not one of those horrible non-Christian ones. The implication, of course, is that Christian families rock and Buddhist families suck, for no other reason than that Buddhist families are not Christian. It's the same idea as when agencies say that Christian families can adopt white infants and non-Christian families can have the minority kids. It's not even an implication. It's an outright statement that some kids and some families are more deserving than others.<br><br>
I think that's completely f*&$#ed up. Pardon my language.<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/hopmad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hopping mad"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/Cuss.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="cuss"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/splat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="splat"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/censored.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="censored"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/banghead.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="banghead"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/nono.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="nono"><br><br>
dm
 

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That is totally off the wall and should not be legal. I hate the implication that any one religion/race/lifestyle, etc, is better than any other one.
 

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I have seen that notation before about PAP being Christian as a requirement for adoption. It usually wasn't the adoption agency who was strict about it but the placing "agency" - it was normally an orphange or home - from certain countries.<br><br>
I personally do not understand those type of qualifiers either. It makes no sense to further limit the pool of available parents for a child.<br><br>
Maggie
 

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This makes me so angry as well. We have come across some agencies here that will only work with actively Christian familes. My dh and I are agnostic/raised catholic and jewish.<br><br>
Not only do they require both be practicing catholics, they require you sign some insane statement of faith, and get a letter from your priest or minister. How is that in all childrens best interest?
 

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I was looking around online because I have the idea of adopting in a few years. I did notice several places that made references to adoptive parents being Christian. I don't get it either. It just seems like a crazy requirement that certainly isn't in the best interest of children - particularly children who may be harder to place for whatever reason. We aren't Christian and I just sort of dread having that potentially become an issue if we decide to adopt.<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad">
 

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I don't know all the ins and outs of how this works. It sounds to me like whatever agency this is, they are acting in a manner like say a christian dating service, where they would require whoever uses their service to follow certain ideals. If it was some type of "service" for christians, provided by christians, that's something different. But if it's an agency that should be able to adopt out legally to any well qualified, loving family, regardless of religious belief, it seems that would be discrimination, and that is not fair. I'm not aware of any laws regulating something like that, but that sounds like a possible lawsuit waiting to happen if someone took up a major issue with it.
 

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I'm not entirely sure about legality issues. I know there was an uproar in Boston last year when Catholic Charities, one of the largest providers of adoption services there (and a recipient of public funds for these efforts), said they would shut their doors if forced to allow gay/lesbian families to adopt. The then-governor and now presidential-candidate Mitt Romney was going to put forth some law that would allow religious organizations exemptions to discriminate if something violated their religious principles.Not sure what ever happened to it, though.
 

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One of the first agencies we contacted when we began our adoption journey asked us very early on what our religion was and basically told us to move on. I was quite shocked by this as I felt we were excellent potential adoptive parents and that they would be thrilled to be contacted by us. Not so. We did end up in their database however, and get more solicitations for donations than we get routine mail (newsletters and such) from the agency we did use. Apparently we're not good enough to be parents in their eyes but when it comes to fund raisers our money is just as green. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/irked.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="irked">:
 

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I'm Jewish, but here's my two cents worth.<br><br>
First off, this child's birthmother may be a devout Christian, and may have requested that the child be raised in a Christian home. She probably went to a Christian agency to arrange to place her child, because her religion is important to her. It is totally normal for any agency, religiously affiliated or otherwise, to honor a birthmother's requests about matters such as religion, if at all possible. The birthmother, after all, is making a huge decision. In most cases, she cares deeply about the wellbeing of her baby, even though she cannot parent and may have made some bad choices in her life. It is only fair to respect her wishes.<br><br>
I do NOT think that to honor a birthmother's wishes regarding the religious upbringing of a child is to slam any other religions. While I have never relinquished a child, let me use an example from my own life.<br><br>
I adopted my daughter from China, and have raised her in the Jewish faith. She attends a Jewish day school, where she is taught Hebrew by immersion for 50% of each day and can do things like using the computer in Hebrew. As I am an "old" Mom -- I adopted when I was 51, and am now the 61 year old Mom of a sixth grader -- I felt it appropriate to make guardianship arrangments for my daughter, in the event that I should die or become incapacitated while she is still a minor.<br><br>
I considered several possible families as guardians, but ultimately chose a married couple with twin sons a little older than Becca. The wife's grandfather and my mother were siblings. While I like them for many reasons, an important consideration was that the family is actively Jewish. I want my daughter to continue to be raised in the faith she has known since she was 18 months old.<br><br>
My choice of these people by no means slams people of any other religion. Good people of all religions, and of no religion at all, are always welcome in my home. My extended family includes Christians of several varieties and agnostics/atheists. I display a plaque, saying "God bless our home", that was given to me by a Lebanese Muslim. I have given my daughter a book on world religions, and we have read a good bit about Buddhism, which may have been the religion of her birthparents. We have toured the National Cathedral (Episcopal) in Washington, DC, and I plan on taking her to visit many other houses of worship.<br><br>
I simply believe that Judaism is the right religion FOR ME, and the religion that I want my daughter to grow up in, if at all possible. When Becca becomes an adult, she can choose a different religion if she wants, though I hope she won't, but for now, it is my prerogative as a parent to determine the religion in which she will be raised. I would hope that the courts and other members of my family will honor my wishes, if the time should come when I cannot care for my daughter. And I believe that a birthmother should be able to ask for the same respect.<br><br>
You should also recognize that adoption agencies are founded by people who come to their profession in many ways. Some people start agencies because they, themselves, adopted children. Others start agencies because they were adopted as children. Still others start agencies because they were horrified by conditions they saw in a foreign country where children lost parents due to war, starvation, or disease. And, indeed, some people start agencies because of a religious conviction that God expects people to take care of orphans. You will find many Christian and Jewish adoption agency founders, for example, who believe that the story of Moses in the Bible -- born to a Jewish woman, but adopted by Pharaoh's daughter --sets an example for all generations.<br><br>
In general, it is perfectly legal for an adoption agency to be founded on religious principles, just as it is perfectly legal to set up a house of worship for a particular faith. And, in general, I believe that the courts will allow an agency to require its staff and clients to sign a statement of belief in those religious principles, just as it will allow a house of worship to refuse to perform marriages only for believers. There are grey areas, of course. Someone mentioned, for example, the controversy regarding whether an agency that holds a religious belief that homosexuality is sinful can bar gay and lesbian singles and couples from adopting, if its state forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; that issue will not be resolved easily.<br><br>
There are many faith-based agencies. Some of these agencies welcome staff and families of all religions. Others, because of the specific nature of their faith, feel that it is important that their staff and families share the founders' principles. As an example, there is an Evangelical Christian international adoption agency in my area that lists a series of statements from the Old and New Testaments and its interpretation of those statements. It asks staff and families to sign a paper indicating belief in the statements, relating to the inerrancy of the Bible, the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, Original Sin, and so on.<br><br>
I certainly cannot and would not try to adopt from that particular agency, as I cannot, under any conditions, sign its statement of faith. Although I know and like some Evangelicals, I'm also uncomfortable with the emphasis that Evangelicals place on encouraging non-Evangelicals to convert, as Judaism prohibits proselytising to non-Jews, although we can encourage other Jewish people to become more observant.<br><br>
In addition, I'm not crazy about the fact that some people associated with Evangelical Christian adoption look at what they do as saving heathen children from sin. I do not see children as "heathen" or "sinful". I see international adoption as appropriate only if a child cannot find a permanent loving family within his/her own birth family or culture. As an example, I would much rather see a child remain in the Indian Hindu family where he/she was born, if that family could raise him/her, than see him/her adopted by a Jewish or Christian family. I am simply realistic about the fact that a great many Indian babies would wind up spending their lives in an orphanage if Americans of all religions did not adopt them. And if an American family does adopt the child, I know that it simply wouldn't work for that family to try to raise the child as Hindu, when all the other household members are Methodist or Catholic or Orthodox Jewish. It makes sense for the child to be raised in the faith of his/her adoptive parents.<br><br>
On the other hand, I do believe that the local agency that requires a faith statement has done a great job, over the years, not only in getting parentless children into families, but in providing assistance to children who will never get adopted because of their age or severe disability, and who remain in foreign orphanages. As far as I'm concerned, the fact that the agency isn't a good fit for me, given my religious and moral values, is less important than the fact that it is helping parentless children.<br><br>
I know that you would love to adopt the little boy who was mentioned on your listserv. I'm sure that his needs are great, and I'm sure that you would be a good parent to the child. But the fact is that the child is not available to you at this time.<br><br>
It is possible that, if the child cannot find a suitable Christian family within a reasonable time period, the birthmother or the agency will allow him/her to be placed with a non-Christian family. You can certainly ask the agency if it ever allows a hard-to-place child to go to a non-Christian home, especially if repeated efforts to find a Christian family fail. And you can certainly ask the agency to keep you in mind if it cannot find another placement for the boy. So, by all means, contact the agency. Such contact can do no harm.<br><br>
Meanwhile, though, I hope that you will continue advocating for children who have HIV, whether here in the U.S. or abroad. And I also hope that you will seek out some other child who desperately needs a home and bring him/her into your family. It sounds as if you have plenty of love to spare. I'll bet there are plenty of children whose birthparents would be open to a Buddhist family and I KNOW that there are plenty of agencies that will place with Buddhist families. I have seen all kinds of families formed by adoption -- families headed by a single male, families headed by lesbian couples, families with parents over age 50 at the time of adoption, families who are Mormon, families who live in apartments, and so on. They may have to work a little harder to find the right situation, but they CAN and DO adopt, because they CAN meet the needs of a child.<br><br>
Sharon
 

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The Philippines will only place children in Christian homes.<br><br>
Makes me sad. it's the same thing as not placing children with same-sex couples. Letting your beliefs get in the way of a child having a home.<br><br>
On the other hand. I can see that if a birth-family were devout Christian (or whatever) that it would be important to them that their child continue in the faith.<br><br>
There are always 2 sides. But it still makes me sad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I think that there is a difference between a birthmother choosing a Christian family for her child, which is certainly her right, and an agency categorically excluding non-Christians.<br><br>
dm
 

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It's not just about religion...<br><br>
You've been divorced? No kid for you! (Phillipines)<br><br>
You've taken anti-depressants, you're disabled, you're obese, you're unmarried? No kid for you! (China)
 

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If there were an abundance of "faith specific" families adopting, I might feel differently. But I don't understand how it is better for a child to be without a family just because one cannot be found that fits a religious criteria. IMO there are a lot of other factors that are WAY more important than religion in choosing a home.<br><br>
To the PP who arranged a situation for their child in case of unforseen issues. You have the very fortunate opportunity of being able to take your time and choose the best possible family for your child. Children who are already without a family or are living in a situation where they require another place to live immediately don't have that liberty.<br><br>
I am a devout "non-christian". My beliefs are pagan and very important to me. While ideally I would like my children to grow up in a pagan home with or without me, I would above all else want them to be well loved and cared for and just accepted for who they are, regardless of what that is. IMO giving up your children means you give up the right to make decisions about their lives, and religion is just one of the many decisions that are part of being a parent... something they are no longer in a position to do. I'm curious what happens if the people stop following the religion after adopting the child. Also, who is making the requirement of religion, is it the parents or the agency? Is there any way of knowing if the child's parents were christian or just in dire need of help from the orphanage?<br><br>
I think religion has its place, but in restricting adoption, I think its just terrible, personally. Especially in the OPs case, where its a child that is difficult to place because of a disability or medical problem. Wouldn't a loving giving nurturing family of ANY religion be better for a child that faces an uncertain future than an orphanage?
 

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Honestly? I think a lot of these policies go waaaaay back....back to the founders of certain agencies, back to the (still held by some) belief that anybody outside of a certain faith will be going to hell. Christian missionaries saving souls and all that jazz, etc. If you look at it from that perspective (not an easy thing), you can see why they would only place children with families that share their belief system....to do anything else would be to condemn a child's soul to hell.<br><br>
And I doubt that all of the children these agencies need to place were chosen by birth mothers because of their Christian faith. It may be the case for some, but you must also recognize that in some developing countries, the only source of aid (or orphanage) for miles and miles around can be tied to a religious group. Once the children are in their doors, and birth mothers or family have placed them there (out of faith, chance, or just plain desperation), it's the religious group that decides.<br><br>
I agree, it's pretty rotton. Love is love, and a good family is a good family.
 

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There absolutely are a ton of agencies out there who will only work with people of particular religions. I think it's obscene. It's much more "Christian" to let a child languish in an orphanage, than it is to place him/her in a good family that isn't *gasp* Christian. Some of these agencies are extremely specific about the beliefs they find acceptable and your run of the mill mainstream Christian isn't good enough.<br><br>
I don't have a problem with sending countries having specific requirements about age, religion, health, marriage, etc. That is their business.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>dharmamama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/8115847"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I think that there is a difference between a birthmother choosing a Christian family for her child, which is certainly her right, and an agency categorically excluding non-Christians.<br><br>
dm</div>
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I totally agree!
 

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we had the same experience with local foster agencies. when we were at the orientation meeting they listed several agencies that would only place children in homes of their same specific faith, and then some that would only place children in a christian home. the county facilitator made a big deal about how alot of them don't even require you to be christian as long as you practice some religion faithfully. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/irked.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="irked">: --- cause that includes all good people, right?<br><br>
we're in the bible belt though....so maybe it's different most places....
 

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Sending countries have many ideas about what is a "good" home to raise children in, which may or may not include the presence of religion in the home, homosexual relationships, mental illness, or financial stability. Many US agencies will not send a child to a home where corporal punishment is the norm, even though different cultures may accept and condone this. The point is that different cultures have different ideas about what is a good environment for raising a child We may disagree with these cultural ideals, but when we get too angry about it, we are in essence "slamming" these other cultures.<br><br>
Interesting how that works out, no?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I agree that sending countries should have the right to implement guidelines for where their children are placed, even if it leads to what I consider to be unfortunate decisions (like Ethiopia's recent decision to exclude families with more than five children in the home). The United States does not have the right to interfere in the adoption guidelines other countries set, although I persist in believing that some of these countries aren't acting in children's best interest with some of their guidelines.<br><br>
However, I am talking about agencies right here in the United States that refuse to place children in non-Christian homes simply because they choose to do so.<br><br>
dm
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>dharmamama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/8116872"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I am talking about agencies right here in the United States that refuse to place children in non-Christian homes simply because they choose to do so.</div>
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From a legal POV, in the US any agency that takes governmental funding has to adhere to anti-discrimination laws. But, if the agency is entirely self-supporting, or gets its funding from a particular religious organization, there's nothing illegal about it. Immoral, you could argue, but not illegal.<br><br>
Let's face it, the adoption process is filled with prejudice. If it's not religion, it's race, gender, economic status, physical ability, or whatever.<br><br>
Dharmamama, maybe it would be worth remembering that any agency that would exclude you based on not belonging to the "right" religion would probably be a pain in the butt all the way through the process. Makes me wonder how they treat the b-families and the babies/children, if their underlying philosophy is "our way or the highway."<br><br>
BTW, just wanted to add that I thought sak9645 wrote a great post. All the detail helped explain the complexity of her thinking.
 
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