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State changes adoption policy

Individuals in Tennessee and throughout the country who wish to become adoptive or foster parents generally have the right to do so. Typically, an individual must show that he or she is able to care for a child. In many cases, the sexual orientation of the prospective parent doesn't influence whether he or she can have the child. However, some adoption agencies are allowed to discriminate against same-sex individuals based on religious grounds.

The state of Michigan has decided that it will no longer work with agencies that place children in its custody in foster homes or with adoptive parents. This assumes that the parents are otherwise fit to take care of them. However, the state will not be able to take action against agencies that discriminate against same-sex couples while engaging in private placement or other actions.

Those who were against the discrimination based on religious beliefs said that it deprived children of the right to be raised by quality parents. Opponents also called the former policy akin to discrimination sponsored by the state. Those who supported the new law said that it could negatively impact the work that religious groups do to help children. There is no evidence that ending the religious exemption would reduce the number of agencies willing to place children in homes.

There may be many factors that a court will use to determine if an individual is fit to be an adoptive or foster parent. Generally speaking, the parent must have a stable income, have a stable home life and be able to meet the needs of the child. An attorney may be able to challenge any decision to not allow an individual to become a parent on religious grounds alone.

Source: CNN, "Michigan will no longer contract with adoption agencies that discriminate based on religious beliefs", Emanuella Grinberg, 03/26/2019

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