There are thousands of foster kids in Tennessee waiting to be placed with forever families, but state lawmakers are trying to make it harder for them to find loving foster or adoptive parents by discriminating against prospective families just because they’re LGBTQ or practice a religion that the agency doesn’t agree with.
SB 1304/HB 836 would allow child placing agencies to discriminate against prospective foster and adoptive families based on the agency’s “religious or moral convictions or policies.”
Turning away good families simply because they don’t satisfy an agency’s religious preferences would deny thousands of Tennessee children access to the families they urgently want and need. In 2017, over 13,000 children were served by the foster care system in Tennessee, and more than 1,300 of them were waiting to be adopted. Removing potential applicants from the pool of families who want to foster or adopt would dramatically reduce the number of finalized adoptions in our state, creating yet another barrier for what is already one of the state’s most vulnerable populations.
Decades of research consistently show that the quality of adoptive parenting is not determined by the parents’ sexual orientation or faith denomination, but rather their ability to guide and raise their adopted children with qualities like dedication, empathy, adaptability and warmth.
The nation’s leading child welfare experts and adoption organizations — including the National Association of Social Workers, the Child Welfare League of America, the North American Council on Adoptable Children, and Voice for Adoption are staunchly opposed to adoption policies that use religion to discriminate against prospective parents, as they undermine foster care placement’s primary goal of safely matching a child in need with a forever family.
UPDATE: On January 14, 2020, this bill passed the Senate by a vote of 20-6 and is now on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.