Since 1903, the famous poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty has proclaimed, “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore./Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me/I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Today, the state of New York might as well amend the poem to say, “As long as you agree with our new state orthodoxy.” Why? Because for adoption providers like New Hope Family Services, the state believes that they have no place in caring for the tired, poor, and the homeless.
Let’s take a look.
New Hope Family Services in Syracuse, New York has for over 50 years touched myriad lives through its adoption services. The ministry practices an “arm‐around‐the‐shoulder” approach with birth parents and adoptive families alike, to guide them as they chose life and create a loving adoption plan for their baby or as they navigate the challenging process of welcoming a new child into their family through adoption.
As a pregnancy resource center, foster-care and adoption provider, New Hope provides pregnancy tests, medical referrals, counseling, adoption planning, temporary foster care, and even adoption placement. New Hope is committed to helping prepare adoptive parents for their unique responsibilities and to make the adoption decision a positive one for both the child and the birth parents.
So what did New Hope do to incur the wrath of the state of New York?
It acted on its belief that children are best served in homes with a married mother and father—a belief rooted in New Hope’s Christian mission and its Christian principles. As a Christian nonprofit, it prioritizes placing children in homes with a married mother and father.
Somehow, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services deems this “discriminatory and impermissible.” It demands that New Hope either change its policy or close out its adoption services entirely.
Nobody complained to the state about New Hope’s practices. In fact, New Hope refers couples that don’t meet their criteria to other providers that will work with them.
New Hope accepts no government funding and operates through fees paid by adoptive parents, as well as support from local churches, individual donors, and private grants. In fact, state adoption officials recently praised New Hope for “a number of strengths in providing adoption services within the community. One of which is the strong emphasis on assisting the birth parents in making an informed decision for their newborn, providing them time to make the decision, along with a supportive and detailed adoptive family selection process.”
Despite all of this, New York is trying to make an example out of New Hope for holding a biblical view of marriage. This flies in the face of what former Justice Anthony Kennedy said in the same-sex marriage decision when he noted that “reasonable and sincere people” believe “in good faith” that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.
More than that, New York is blatantly violating the Constitution. Every American has the freedom to live according to their religious beliefs. Adoption providers are no different. The Constitution protects that freedom.
New Hope, represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, is suing New York for this violation. ADF Legal Counsel Jeana Hallock notes:
Banishing New Hope as a faith-based adoption provider means fewer kids will find permanent homes, fewer adoptive parents will ever welcome their new child, and fewer birth parents will enjoy the exceptional support that New Hope has offered for decades. In short, everyone loses if the government forces New Hope to shut down.
Along with the barbaric abortion law that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed, the actions of the OCFS show that New York is increasingly hostile to deeply held beliefs about marriage and the family that are shared by people of many faiths—not just Christianity.
In our pluralistic society, there’s no reason to single out and punish those who hold the belief that the best home for a child includes a father and a mother. Adoption providers exist to help children, not to affirm the desires of adults.
Every child deserves a home with loving mother and father. Adoption providers who help children find those forever homes should be protected, not shut down for their faith.