New Rule Would Let Faith-Based Adoption Groups Turn Away LGBT Parents

On Nov. 1, a sad coincidence, the first day of National Adoption Month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a proposed rule to repeal a 2016 regulation that was designed to prevent discrimination against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The removal of the regulation would permit federally funded foster care and adoption agencies to refuse services to LGBTQ families for faith-based reasons.

If passed, the rule could be published in the Federal Register by Monday, Nov. 11. It would then be subject to a 30-day comment period, after which time publics comments would close and the ruling could become final. The rule would affect any foster care agency, adoption agency, or similar entity that receives funding from HHS.

Tony Perkins, the president of Family Research Council, which focuses on politically conservative causes, said in a recent statement, “Thanks to President Trump, charities will be free to care for needy children and operate according to their religious beliefs and the reality that children do best in a home with a married mom and dad.”

However, contrary to Perkins’ claims, research has actually shown again and again and again that children raised in homes with same-sex parents show no differences from children who were raised by opposite-sex parents.  

Many are concerned that this proposed ruling could prevent LGBTQ couples from adopting — which is significant, given that same-sex parents constitute a larger percent of adoptive parents than opposite-sex parents. According to the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, an estimated 114,000 same-sex couples in the U.S. were raising children as of 2016. Additionally, the report found that same-sex couples were far more likely to adopt compared to opposite-sex couples: 21.4% of same-sex couples with children were raising an adopted child versus 3% of opposite-sex couples with children.

There are more children than ever waiting for permanent placement from foster care, but The Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) actually reported an increase in adoptions with public agency involvement, rising from 57,209 in 2016 (the year the LGBT anti-discrimination policy was enacted) to 59,430 in 2017 — marking the highest number of adoptions from foster care to date.

Defenders of the 2016 regulation say that, in benefitting a few faith-based adoption professionals, the new rule would harm the estimated 123,000 children waiting to be adopted from foster care who could be denied parents that otherwise qualify to adopt, with the exception of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

However, regardless of this proposed rule, adoption is still possible for LGBT families. Consult with a professional that has experience with LGBT adoptions for more information.

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