Democratic Representatives Warn that Adoption Bills will Harm Children

Proposals would let adoption agencies use faith as an excuse to discriminate
Tuesday, March 3, 2015

LANSING – Democratic members of the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee warned that three bills that would change adoption rules would harm Michigan children waiting for adoption. House Bills 4188-4190 would allow adoption agencies to use religious faith as an excuse to deny adoptions.

“At a time when there are 3,000 Michigan children waiting for a permanent, loving family, these bills are not in the best interest of children,” said Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright (D-Muskegon), the Democratic vice chairwoman of the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee. “Instead of helping these kids find loving homes, we’re making it even harder for them to find families. Michigan’s kids deserve better.”

The bills are waiting for a vote in committee. Adoption expert Dr. Jeanne Howard offered representatives an affidavit that said her research shows same-sex couples are more willing to adopt, and are particularly willing to adopt special-needs children. She also found that children in states open to same-sex adoption are more likely to be adopted, and that children who “age out” of foster care are experience more poverty, homelessness, substance abuse and other harmful conditions than adopted children. Foster care also uses more state resources and costs taxpayers more than adoption.

Howard also said that when Illinois rejected laws similar to those being considered by Michigan, adoption agencies did not curtail adoption services. Instead, adoption services were maintained or expanded. This contradicts claims from proponents of the Michigan bills that adoption services would be cut back unless agencies are given a right to discriminate.

“The research is clear, and it shows that children need families, and that same-sex couples are capable and willing to give children a loving home,” said Rep. Frank Liberati (D-Allen Park), a member of the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee. “Adoption agencies are trusted to operate in the best interest of children, and their best interests are not served by a policy that makes it harder for them to find a home.”

It’s anticipated that the adoption bills will be voted on in committee as early as March 4 and sent to the House floor for a full vote.

“As legislators, we have a duty to pass laws that help instead of hinder our citizens,” House Families, Children and Seniors Committee member Rep. Alberta Tinsley Talabi (D-Detroit) said. “These laws threaten to harm our most vulnerable citizens – children without a family of their own. We should be making it easier for them to find loving parents, not driving a wedge between them and adults who want to adopt.”

Michigan’s adoption laws already make it difficult for same-sex families to adopt. The state doesn’t allow second-parent adoptions for same-sex couples, which puts children in these families at a legal and financial disadvantage. A challenge to that law from Oakland County residents April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse resulted in the case now before the U.S. Supreme Court, whose ruling could make same-sex marriage legal throughout the nation.

"Michigan should not be making it more difficult for children waiting for adoption to find a permanent home. We should be promoting policies of inclusion rather than exclusion,” said Rep. Robert Wittenberg (D-Oak Park), whose constituents include DeBoer and Rowse. “When responsible, loving adults want to adopt children who need a family, we should stand behind them, not put roadblocks in their way.”