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Michigan Is Threatening the Well-Being of Children in Foster Care… How One Ministry Responded

By Sarah Kramer posted on:
September 3, 2019

There are more than 400,000 children in foster care nationwide.

This heartbreaking number has motivated a number of organizations to partner with their state to help these children find loving homes – including faith-based organizations. But several states are targeting faith-based providers and blocking them from serving these children, including Michigan.

Here’s how one ministry is standing up to Michigan’s anti-religious hostility and speaking up for the children that desperately need a loving home.


Who: Catholic Charities West Michigan

Catholic Charities West Michigan has been serving its community for over 70 years, and it has done so with excellence.

Just look at its foster care and adoption services – two of its largest programs.

In the past 10 years, Catholic Charities West Michigan has placed approximately 4,500 children in loving homes.

But it doesn’t just place them.

Catholic Charities West Michigan goes above and beyond to make sure the children in its care are well taken care of – as well as their families. Catholic Charities has paid for children to get braces and participate in equine therapy and martial arts. It also operates a house where children in foster care can spend time with their biological family, and adoptive families can spend time with the children they are looking to adopt.

Foster care and adoptive families can also take advantage of the other services that Catholic Charities provides, such as the food pantry.

All of this goes above and beyond what the state of Michigan pays for and provides.

Many of the families Catholic Charities works with shares its view that serving the community and children in need is a cornerstone of the faith. And because Catholic Charities works with around 80 Catholic parishes throughout western Michigan, it has a wide network of families to participate in its foster care and adoption programs. That’s why Catholic Charities is particularly effective at placing sibling groups and children with disabilities.


What: Catholic Charities West Michigan v. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

It should come as no surprise that Catholic Charities West Michigan operates according to the teachings and doctrines of the Catholic Church, including its beliefs about marriage.

Michigan even has a state law on the books that protects the rights of faith-based foster care and adoption providers to do just that – run their ministries consistently with their beliefs.

But the Michigan attorney general no longer wants to follow that law.

In March 2019, the Michigan attorney general entered a settlement agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Following that settlement, in April 2019, the attorney general said that the state will no longer partner with faith-based foster care and adoption agencies who desire to place children in homes with a married mother and father according to their religious beliefs.

But the government cannot single out and punish these foster care and adoption providers simply because it doesn’t like their beliefs.

That is something the U.S. Supreme Court made clear in its decision in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer, which Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) argued. Not to mention that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled twice – including in its decision on same-sex marriage – that the government must respect the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.

That’s why ADF filed a lawsuit on behalf of Catholic Charities West Michigan.


When: April 2019 - Present

ADF filed a lawsuit on behalf of Catholic Charities West Michigan on April 25, 2019. 


Where: Michigan

Catholic Charities West Michigan is one of the largest social service providers in western Michigan.


Why: Eliminating faith-based adoption providers because of their beliefs means fewer organizations working to find children loving homes.

Michigan works with a number of foster care and adoption providers across the state to help children find loving homes. And protecting faith-based foster care and adoption providers does not interfere with other providers. It simply ensures that there are more providers working toward the best for children.

With approximately 13,000 children in foster care in Michigan, why wouldn’t it want to use every resource at its disposal to help these children find loving homes?

Ultimately, eliminating faith-based foster care and adoption providers means fewer organizations working to find children loving homes.


The Bottom Line

Every child deserves the chance to be adopted or cared for by a foster family. Faith-based adoption and foster care providers that help children find a loving home should be celebrated, not targeted for their faith.

Sarah Kramer

Sarah Kramer

Digital Content Specialist

Sarah worked as an investigative reporter before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.

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