Faith-based child welfare agencies in Texas may soon be granted the legal right to reject potential adoptive parents on religious grounds. If passed, House Bill 3859 could mean that Jews, Muslims, LGBT couples and single parents are denied the ability to provide loving, safe homes to children in the foster care system.
The Texas House approved the bill on Wednesday, May 10 and has sent it for vote in the Senate. Prior to voting, Director of Adoption Services Erin Smith testified before the Texas House of Representatives in opposition to the bill. Below is her statement.
My name is Erin Smith. Thank you for this opportunity to speak today.
I am the Director of Adoption Services at Adoption Advocates, Inc., a private, domestic infant adoption agency here in Austin, TX. I have worked in the field of adoption for eight years, primarily with birth parents. I am also an adoptee. I was adopted from an orphanage in Kerala, India when I was 20 months old. I urge you to oppose HOUSE BILL 3859.
At Adoption Advocates, we promote open adoption. This means the birth parents are encouraged to choose the adoptive families with whom they place, can get to know the families during the pregnancy, and maintain in-person contact with the families and their child after placement. We have placed with same-sex couples for more than a decade. We prepare all of our families for the adoption process and supervise our families’ placements exactly the same because regardless of sexual orientation, our families are equal in our eyes.
Some of the birth parents however, see an added benefit in placing with LGBTQ families. We often have birth parents contact the agency specifically because they have heard that we place with same-sex couples.
Don’t take it from me. I took the liberty of reaching out to a few of the birth parents I have worked with who have chosen to place their child in the home of an LGBTQ family. Here’s what they had to say about why:
‘We had a few reasons. The first thing that really hit my heart was that same-sex couples were very much discriminated against in the adoption process. Another factor was that we knew that almost by default they would have faced adversity and at least to some extent triumphed over it. The final thing that weighed into our thought process is that my husband and I both identify as somewhere on the LGBT spectrum, and most of us have a tendency to seek out those who are somewhat like us to parent our children. We know LGBT families are at least as good at parenting as their hetero/cis counterparts. I wish everyone understood that.’
‘I feel that being a part of the LGBTQ community that a same-sex couple would better understand a possible gay or bisexual child. I feel confident that the adoptive fathers of my son will raise him with love and an open mind.’
‘I did not choose a same-sex couple because they were both women. I chose a same-sex couple to raise my child because they have endless love to give her. I chose them because I knew they would protect her heart, nourish her spirit, and raise her to be kind.’
This bill does not serve the best interest of children. It further puts them at a disadvantage by limiting the number of potential loving and supportive homes into which they could be placed. I could never support a bill that legalizes discrimination and neither should any of you.”