I was on vacation this summer when the news broke about Catholic Charities in Illinois losing state contracts over the agency’s refusal to place adoptive children with same-sex couples. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t following the story. As an adoptive mother, I have a few insights into the process, having spent five years adopting our two children.
What I learned is that choosing an adoption agency can be one of the most important decisions prospective adoptive parents make. Some make their choice based on the agency’s location, fees or something as random as it coming up first in a Google search. Likely, they learned about it through a personal referral. But often, prospective adoptive parents put quite a bit of thought into choosing an agency. I, for one, had a spreadsheet of dozens of agencies with criteria that included services, cost and estimated wait times.
Whether an agency had a religious background was not only unimportant, it made an agency suspect for us. Often religiously-based agencies came with additional requirements, such as proof of religious belief or church attendance, or with the baggage of proselytizing or problematic adoption attitudes (“Save a heathen orphan!”) Given the Catholic Church's sometimes unfair, but often deserved, reputation for being judgmental, Catholic Charities is probably avoided by a number of prospective adoptive families, besides the same-sex couples who would be automatically rejected.