Widow Barred From Adopting Foster Kids Over Christian Beliefs. Now She’s Fighting Back.

Widow Barred From Adopting Foster Kids Over Christian Beliefs. Now She’s Fighting Back.

Jessica Bates is a devout Christian, and as such, felt compelled to adopt children in need out of the foster care system. But it was that same faith that the state of Oregon used against Bates, denying her the opportunity to take in the needy.

Bates, who lost her husband six years ago in a car collision, was months into the adoption process when she noticed the emphasis on LGBT policies, specifically that she must “respect, accept, and support” the sexual orientation or “gender identity” of any child that could be placed in her home. When she notified the state that she couldn’t comply with such a policy because of her religious beliefs, her application was put on hold, and then two months later she was completely denied from adopting. 

Now, with the representation of Christian legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), Bates is fighting back. The widow has filed a federal lawsuit against Oregon, hoping to eliminate the Department of Human Services (DHS) policy that she believes discriminates against people of faith.

“There is a Department of Human Services policy that says parents or prospective caregivers have to ‘respect, accept, and support’ hypothetical child sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression,” ADF Legal Counsel Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse told The Daily Wire. “This means that caregivers have to agree to use preferred pronouns. They have to take children to affirming events like [LGBT] Pride parades. They even have to take children to receive cross-sex hormone shots as part of a gender transition.”

“So, just looking at preferred pronouns as an example: that carries a message, it forces clients to say something about gender identity and about biological sex that Bates doesn’t agree with,” he continued. “That violates the First Amendment — it violates her freedom of speech, and it also violates her free exercise by putting her to a choice of abandoning her religious beliefs, or forgoing the chance of ever having even the opportunity to adopt a child.” 

Alliance Defending Freedom

DHS has released a general statement sticking by their policy, but won’t comment on specific cases. The child welfare division “stands in support of transgender, non-binary, gender-fluid and other LGBTQIA2S+ children,” DHS said. The department also claimed that “gender-diverse people” are “under attack” in the U.S. and they’re committed to “creating a safe and supportive environment for all children and young people, regardless of their gender identity.”

“Well, the problem is that Oregon isn’t helping children in need,” Widmalm-Delphonse responded to the statement. “They’re punishing religious homes and actually taking away homes that are open and needed to care for these children.”

The attorney noted that excluding Christians and entire faith groups from the adoption process “hurts the children in need the most.”

“I believe there’s a statistic that practicing U.S. Christians are twice as likely to adopt as the general U.S. population,” he noted. “In other words, these systems, they can’t function without Christians — much less devout Jews and Muslims, and people of other faiths who share Jessica’s values.” 

Bates doesn’t appear to be alone in her rejection based on her Christian faith. ADF says others in Oregon have reached out to them with similar stories. And it’s happened in other states, too.

There was a similar case in Washington State back in 2020; the judge in that case, Salvador Mendoza, Jr., said the state wasn’t allowed to discriminate against a caregiver applicant based on their religious beliefs. He said applicants could be asked questions surrounding LGBT issues, and their responses could be used to help match a child, but their faith-informed answers couldn’t be the sole reason to deny them an opportunity to take in a child. 

Asked if this radical gender ideology could be used against parents raising their biological children, Widmalm-Delphonse said this has already started to happen, though the Constitution does protect against that. 

“We think that the Constitution absolutely protects, not just foster parents and adoptive parents, but natural families who want to raise their children consistent with their faith,” he said. “We absolutely are concerned that states might try to use its gender ideology, not to punish just caregivers who want to open the home for the children in need, but parents of biological children. And we’ve seen that in some disputes where parents are fighting over a child and a parent might try to use that as a wedge issue and bring the court in to try to adjudicate parents, or punish parents just because of their beliefs.”

“We absolutely want to indicate both the caregiver’s rights, but also the rights of natural parents everywhere,” Widmalm-Delphonse added. 

ADF on Tuesday officially filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction on behalf of Bates, asking the court to allow the mother to continue in the process of adoption while the lawsuit takes place.

Originally Posted on: https://www.dailywire.com/news/widow-barred-from-adopting-foster-kids-over-christian-beliefs-now-shes-fighting-back
By: Amanda Prestigiacomo

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