Monday, December 2, 2019

The Adoption and Foster Care Crisis

Eliminating otherwise eligible adoptive and foster parents from the pool because they are LGBTQ is clearly not in the best interests of children.
Sad Child
Monday, there is an increasing amount of noise present created by Christian agencies. Here are some sobering statistics regarding foster care:
  • One-third of children who age out of foster care without having been adopted end up homeless.
  • Hard current numbers are elusive but there are an estimated half-million children now in foster care.
  • Since 2013 there has been a 10.6% increase in children in foster care. Children awaiting adoption have increased 20%.
  • Children entering foster care are eight-years-of-age. A majority of the children awaiting adoption are more than eight-years-of-age. Due to their age, these kids are less likely to be adopted.
  • 75% of children in foster care are behind grade level.
  • Only half of the kids in foster care will ever receive a high school diploma.
  • Kids in foster care will likely attend six different K-12 schools
  • By the time they are 21, about half the kids now in foster care will be unemployed. Median income less than $6,000 and about one-third will have been arrested.
The obvious answer to these problems is to prevent children from aging out in the foster care system through adoption.

Making matters worse is the perception that older kids in foster care have emotional problems. Many do. We need better programs for kids who do age out but that is not my subject today.

Catholic Charities and other Christian agencies claim that requiring them to place children with gay couples goes against their religious convictions. They further claim that they will have to close if required to do so. The reality is that some of this is spite work on the part of Catholic Charities due to marriage equality. In Massachusetts, for example, the bishops manufactured (in large measure) a consequence of same-sex marriage by closing an agency that was placing children with gay couples.

National Organization for Marriage would eventually oppose marriage equality by claiming that same-sex marriage had already victimized Catholic Charities, forcing them to close where same-sex marriage had been legalized. Oh the poor Church.

In 2003, Cardinal Ratzinger, then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and future Pope Benedict, authored: Considerations Regarding Proposals To Give Legal Recognition To Unions Between Homosexual Persons. In that context he wrote:
Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development.
In other words, Ratzinger, who has no applicable training, was using fictitious notions of same-sex parenting to oppose marriage equality. This unscientific opinion would ultimately provide fodder for the bishops and people like Brian S. Brown and Maggie Gallagher.

Should the wellbeing of children be guided by religious dogma or social science? These agencies are doing the work of the state with taxpayer funds. Children are usually available through only one of several agencies. Therefore, when the agency turns away a gay couple a group of children have fewer available foster and adoptive parents even if that couple goes to a different agency.

Viewed strictly from the perspective of what is best for children, nondiscrimination in foster care and adoption should be a universal value; even in places like Mississippi or Alabama. The public policy should exist independent of nondiscrimination laws affecting things like public accommodations. It is basic arithmetic. Is that so damned complicated?

In other words, if the (fictional) Eastside Baptist Adoption and Foster Care Services decides to close then nondiscriminatory agencies will have more children to place with more eligible foster and adoptive parents.

More parents not only means more opportunity for placement but the agencies can be more selective, considering things that actually matter like finances, other children in the home, educational background of the parents and other important factors like attitudes over corporal punishment.

So let's worry less about the revenues of Christian nonprofit organizations and more about the kids. We have a crisis on our hands and it is only going to get worse.

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