For Dave and Keri Boeve of Hamilton, Mich., adoption of their twins represented an arduous year-long process.
The ups and downs of the journey would have been even harder were it not for the confidence they had in their adoption agency, Bethany Children Services.
That confidence grew out of the knowledge that Bethany shared the couple's core beliefs and religious convictions.
“We liked that we could walk the adoption journey with a fellow Christian, our caseworker, who could relate to our faith and provide the comfort that a shared faith brings,” said Keri.
But increasingly, many families may face barriers in finding an agency able to sympathize with their central values and religious motivation for caring for needy boys and girls.
That’s because in places such as California, Massachusetts, Illinois and the District of Columbia, some faith-based child welfare service providers have been forced to halt services simply because they believe that children do best when raised by a mom and a dad.
In Illinois alone, a 2011 change in law has forced Catholic and evangelical Christian child welfare service providers to stop serving over 2,000 children.
And, D.C.’s refusal to allow religious providers to operate according to their beliefs forced Catholic Charities to end all adoption and foster care services, despite an 80-year legacy of partnership with families.
That’s a prospect that’s alarmed some Members of Congress. This week, Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., and Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., introduced legislation that would halt discrimination against faith-based child welfare service providers.
The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2014 tells states receiving federal Title IV E and Title IV B child welfare funds that refusing to contract, fund or license faith-based providers simply because of their religious or moral convictions will put states at risk of losing a percentage of their federal child welfare funding.
To make sure states take a potential loss of funding seriously, the legislation also gives aggrieved providers the ability to sue a state in federal court.
Sadly, such legislation has proven necessary because of political agendas that are more interested in extinguishing the work of faith-based social service entities than in helping children find homes.
For decades, faith-based child-welfare service providers in hundreds of communities nationwide have partnered with families to encourage and equip them to adopt and foster children.
Heeding religious mandates to care for orphans, these private providers have assisted financially strapped state governments in matching thousands of families with kids waiting for a home.
In an era when choice and transparency in the adoption process have been prioritized, faith-based providers have given birth mothers the key option of working with a provider that gives the comfort and encouragement of shared values.
Despite faith-based providers’ commendable record of compassion and care, some state and local governments have become more interested in enforcing political correctness than working towards the best interests of a child — even when the price for political correctness is seeing longstanding providers with outstanding track records shut down.
When discrimination against faith-based organizations prevails, it is children who first and most directly suffer the consequences.
For seeking to maximize the number of organizations working to help boys and girls find a permanent home, Kelly and Enzi are to be commended.
Let’s hope that all of their House and Senate colleagues will share the same desire to let child welfare trump political correctness and posturing.Leanna Baumer is a senior legislative assistant for the government affairs team at the Family Research Council.