Bishops of Kansas issue statement in support of adoption protection

The leaders of the Catholic Church in the State of Kansas issued a statement in Topeka in support of the Adoption Protection Act Tuesday, March 20.
The legislation would protect Catholic and other faith-based adoption agencies – without interfering with anyone’s right to adopt.
“Seven states have laws like the legislation before you,” they said in the statement submitted as written testimony to Kansas lawmakers. “None of those laws have taken away anyone’s legal right to adopt. Rather, they have simply ensured that faith-based providers can continue to serve their communities in accordance with their religious principles.”
The legislation does not affect Catholic Charities in Wichita, which no longer has an adoption ministry.
The bishops of the dioceses of Wichita, Dodge City, Kansas City, and the administrator of the Diocese of Salina, said in the statement that it was disappointing the legislation was necessary.
“In recent years, government agencies have forced Catholic Charities to close their adoption ministries in Boston, Washington, D.C., Illinois, and San Francisco because of their policy of placing children only in homes with a married mother and father,” they said, adding that Catholic Charities’ adoption ministry in Boston was one of the oldest in the country and had a strong reputation for being able to place hard-to-place children, such as older children or special needs children.
“Faith-based providers often specialize in handling challenging situations, so to lose their expertise would be a blow to the children and families they serve. Nonetheless, these other jurisdictions forced their closure. We do not want such a scenario to ever occur in Kansas,” the bishops said.
The statement said the climate of “fear and uncertainty” created by litigious groups hostile to faith-based adoption providers does not increase access for anyone.
“However, were the state to pass these protections, it is altogether likely that faith-based providers would increase their services,” they said. “By having a diversity of providers operating in Kansas, we can maximize the number of children and families served. A diverse society should welcome a diversity of perspectives among adoption providers.”
The statement points out that the rights of birthmothers and adoptive parents should not be forgotten in their consideration of the legislation.
“It often happens that a birthmother wants her child to be raised in a home that shares her faith,” the statement says.
“Political activists who do not agree with her religious beliefs should not be able to stand in the door and thwart her wishes. Sometimes a birthmother’s decision to place her child for adoption is based on her desire for the child to have the benefit of a mother and a father, something she may not be able to provide at that moment in her life. Such extraordinary selflessness should command society’s awe and support.”
The bishops said adoptive parents might wish to work with faith-based providers for a variety of reasons and that the government should not deny that choice.
“That fact that faith-based providers may operate according to religious criteria that not everyone agrees with should be expected in a diverse society. Under the criteria employed by Catholic Charities, we, the Catholic bishops of Kansas are not eligible to adopt children. We can assure you that this is not because Catholic Charities bears any ill will against bishops.
The statement says that if opponents to the legislation are successful, America will become a place where even Mother Teresa would be forbidden from carrying out her adoption ministry. “That is anything but tolerance,” they said.
Signing the statement were:
+ The Most Rev. Joseph F. Naumann, archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas
+ The Most Rev. John B. Brungardt, bishop of Dodge City
+ The Most Rev. Carl A. Kemme, bishop of Wichita
+ The Very Rev. Francis E. Coady, diocesan administrator of the Diocese of Salina
Editor’s note: The Kansas Senate passed the Adoption Protection Act 23-12 Thursday, March 29, but the House voted it down 58-64 just a few hours later. The bill now goes to a conference committee for negotiations.