The population of children in need of new homes through foster care or adoption is large and growing. But so are the obstacles that stand in their way.
The opioid epidemic, funding challenges and a tangle of regulations all complicate efforts to connect children with interested families, according to child welfare experts. Increasingly, so do clashes between faith-based adoption agencies and LGBT couples.
“We are seeing, at this moment, the leading edge of a culture war. And we’ve seen three skirmishes in the last week,” said Robin Fretwell Wilson, director of the family law and policy program at the University of Illinois College of Law, during a Feb. 26 panel on foster care at the American Enterprise Institute.
Wilson was referring to recent lawsuits and legislation related to faith-based adoption agencies in Texas, South Carolina and Georgia. A lesbian couple sued the federal government and Catholic Charities of Forth Worth on Feb. 20 for the right to foster refugee children. The South Carolina Department of Social Services threatened to stop working with one agency last month because of its religious convictions. And the Georgia Senate passed a bill on Feb. 23 meant to protect faith-based agencies from being sued by the couples they don’t want to serve.
It’s not unusual for policy makers to use the foster care and adoption system to push unrelated agendas, according to Naomi Schaefer Riley, who moderated the American Enterprise Institute panel. Legislators pass regulations that send a message about family size or gun control, such as a Michigan law that prevents foster parents from carrying concealed weapons.
“Across the political spectrum, people use child welfare rules to fight battles they want to fight about other things,” she said. Read more via NWF Daily News