Federal Proposal to Fund Discriminatory Adoption Agencies

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Illustration by Nikita Bowler

More than 100,000 children await adoption in the U.S. About 444,000 more are currently in the foster care system. President Donald Trump wants to make it harder for them to find permanent homes.

The Trump administration announced a proposal on Nov. 1 that would allow federally funded adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQIA+ families. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rationalized the proposal by arguing the right to religious freedom. 

About 21 percent of the estimated 114,000 LGBTQIA+ couples in the U.S. are raising adopted or fostered children, compared to 3 percent of heterosexual couples.

The federal government is actively prohibiting children from finding loving parents and stable homes. Children will bear the brunt of this right wing bigotry.

Earlier this year, HHS granted an exemption from Obama-era rules to the Miracle Hill Ministries adoption agency. The South Carolina organization refused to place children with LGBTQIA+ couples and Jewish families. The exemption sets a dangerous precedent for the new proposal, as well as any future attempts by the Trump administration to strip people of their rights. 

The proposal will harm foster youth and worsen the foster care-to-prison pipeline. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, about 25 percent of youth who age out of the foster care system end up in prison within two years of leaving the system. Denying these kids homes won’t help their cause.

The Trump administration’s proposal would disproportionately affect children of color, LGBTQIA+ identified children and those with mental illness in the foster care system.

Vice President Mike Pence, dubbed the “pro-life champion” by the Daily Citizen-News, voiced support for Trump’s proposal at a recent HHS event. Pence is just one of the many hypocritical officials who preaches their dedication to supporting children’s lives while pushing legislation to take away potential homes.

Boston University News Service interviewed partners Ken Peterson and Rick Rheault, who spent four years adopting their three children. After the Trump administration’s proposal, they talked with their oldest child, Amina, about what it would mean for their family.

“This wouldn’t change the adoption we have or our love and support for you,” Peterson assured his daughter. “We’re always going to be a family no matter what, but what this means is other LGBT people might not get the chance to have a family like ours.” 

By announcing his proposal on the first day of National Adoption Month,  Trump managed to kill two birds with one hatefully cast stone. Not only did he insult the intention of the celebratory month, he doubled down on his fight to retract basic human rights from vulnerable communities. Sexual orientation should not determine one’s right to a family.

The HHS is attempting to hide the harm of this proposal behind convoluted processes and misleading language. If it passes, children and LGBTQIA+ families will suffer. There must be public dissent to call attention to this issue and the administration attempting to take away rights already won by the LGBTQIA+ community.