There are currently over 400,000 children in the foster care system in the United States, many of whom are without a stable and loving foster family.
In numerous states, the number of children in the system outpaces the number of available foster homes. In West Virginia, the number of children in foster care has increased by 71 percent in the past decade. West Virginia’s foster system is so overpopulated that “it's not uncommon for children to stay days in government offices and hotels.” Similar crises are unfolding in Indiana, Texas, and Oklahoma. In the state of New York alone, there over 25,000 children in the foster system, over 600 of whom are waiting to be adopted.
That’s why the work that New Hope Family Services does is so important. Located in Syracuse, this pregnancy resource center and adoption agency has been meeting the needs of children, adoptive parents, and expectant mothers for over 50 years—without a single dime of public funding.
All their services are supported by individuals and organizations in the community who value New Hope’s work. So when a young expectant mother walks through New Hope’s doors looking to discuss her options, she’s offered education, counseling, and “an arm around the shoulder,” free of charge.
One New York state agency wrote to New Hope in 2018, thanking it for “a number of strengths in providing adoption services within the community.”
But that same state agency has changed its tune. Now, the New York Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) is threatening to strip New Hope of its adoption license. Why? Because New Hope runs its ministry consistent with its religious beliefs.
Because New Hope believes that the best home for each child is with a mother and father committed to each other in marriage—a conviction inspired by biblical teachings—New York is giving New Hope an ultimatum: violate your religious beliefs or stop placing children within loving families.
New Hope’s beliefs aren’t radical, and many expectant mothers seek out adoption services through New Hope primarily because of its faith-based convictions. If New Hope is no longer allowed to place children in loving homes, that’s one less agency helping the thousands of children waiting to be adopted in New York. What’s more, when New York decided in 2010 that it was lawful for unmarried or same-sex couples to adopt, the governor specifically noted that this law still allowed for faith-based agencies to operate according to their faith convictions.
That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on New Hope’s behalf. By denying New Hope the ability to operate according to its religious beliefs, New York officials are violating the First Amendment.
But this isn’t just about New Hope’s freedom of conscience; it’s also about the freedom of expectant mothers and adoptive families to choose what best meets their own needs, believes, and hopes for their child.
Many children in New York are waiting to be adopted, waiting for a stable and loving family. But because New Hope conducts its faith-based, privately funded ministry consistent with its beliefs, New York bureaucrats have decided that the needs of children come second.
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