Same-sex families seeking to adopt in Tennessee may be heartened by developments in Michigan. One large foster care and adoption agency has acknowledged its responsibilities under a state legal settlement, affirming that it will now place children in LGBT families' homes. The agency, Bethany Christian Services, is a non-profit organization that contracts with the state government to handle around 8 percent of its foster care and adoption cases. There are around 13,000 cases involving children from troubled households with state involvement.
Even while confirming its policy change, however, the nonprofit said that it was disappointed with the government's implementation of the settlement agreement, which could potentially spell obstacles for LGBT couples and families. The settlement was reached between the state and same-sex couples that had filed suit in 2017 against discriminatory foster care and adoption practices. Under its terms, religious or faith-based nonprofits that accept referrals from the state's Department of Health and Human Services may not refuse to place those referred children in households with LGBT parents.
While Bethany acknowledged its responsibility under the settlement, another charity contractor engaged in similar work, St. Vincent Catholic Charities, filed suit against the settlement. It alleged that its religious freedom rights were being violated. However, Bethany handles around eight times as many cases from the state as St. Vincent. The state's governor praised the decision, saying that when adoption agencies do not discriminate against LGBT parents, more children can find safe and loving homes. However, for now, the policy applies only in Michigan and not in other states where Bethany operates.
LGBT couples who are looking toward an adoption to grow their family may face a number of questions, from discrimination by certain agencies to how to legalize their family. An adoption attorney can provide guidance and representation throughout the process to people of all backgrounds.