Kansas Legislators Introduce “Religious Freedom” Adoption Bills

With its recent proposals, the Kansas Legislature has added its name to the list of state governments attempting to pass religious freedom bills for infant and foster adoption agencies.

Earlier this week, Kansas lawmakers introduced two new bills — House Bill 2687 and Senate Bill 401 — as “adoption protection bills.” The legislation would allow adoption agencies to refuse services to adoptive parents based on religious beliefs. While supporters (such as the state’s Department for Children and Families) say the bill will encourage more agencies to work in the state and find homes for children, critics say the bill will instead allow for widespread discrimination against LGBT parents and any adoptive parents with religious beliefs that do not conform to an agency’s mission.

Kansas is just the latest state to introduce these religious freedom bills; Texas and Georgia legislators recently introduced similar bills, met with the same criticism.

More than 7,000 children in Kansas are currently in state custody. The state foster care system has already been plagued with accusations of corruption and discrimination by biological and foster parents alike, and critics of the bill say that allowing agencies to turn away otherwise-approved adoptive parents will only exacerbate the existing issues.

National adoption agency American Adoptions — which has headquarters in Overland Park, Kan. — announced its opposition to the bill in a press release.  Read the full text below:

OVERLAND PARK, KS –

As the Kansas Legislature considers a bill that would allow adoption agencies to refuse service to adoptive parents based on religious beliefs, American Adoptions wants to reiterate its commitment to all adoptive families and express its disapproval for this bill.

The national adoption agency, which provides services to expectant mothers and adoptive parents in Kansas, will continue to assist all kinds of families through the adoption process, regardless of any changes in the state law, Executive Director Shawn Kane said.

“As an adoptive father myself, this bill concerns me because of how it can be misused,” Kane said. “I’ve witnessed how birth parents in voluntary adoptions request all different types of families to help fulfill their adoption plans. By limiting the birth parents’ choices in the types of families that can be selected, this bill could actually reduce the number of adoptions completed in the state of Kansas.”

The proposed House Bill 2687 and Senate Bill 401, otherwise known as “The Adoption Protection Act,” would allow adoption agencies to refuse service to hopeful adoptive families when the placement of a child into their care would “violate such agency’s sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Supporters of the bills say the legislation will not only protect religious liberties but also encourage faith-based agencies to provide adoption services. Critics, like American Adoptions, say the bills would lead to discrimination against LGBT adoptive couples and families who do not meet certain religious standards.

Kane, who is a member of an interfaith family, expressed concern over how the bills could allow widespread discrimination.

American Adoptions does not set religious requirements for its hopeful parents. Instead, it works with all adoptive parents who meet its agency requirements to provide adoption home study services, education, support, help finding a prospective birth mother and more.

The agency’s website offers adoption information and resources for hopeful adoptive parents of all backgrounds, including several articles that may be of particular interest to adoptive families that could be impacted by the pending legislation:

About American Adoptions

American Adoptions is a national adoption agency with headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas. It specializes in domestic infant adoptions and works with adoptive families and birth parents across the United States. American Adoptions is committed to providing adoption support and education to thousands of families every year. For more information, please visit AmericanAdoptions.com.

If you are a Kansas resident, you can make your opinion on the bills heard by contacting your state representative.

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