Among all the excitement and congratulations following June 1, the day that gay and lesbian couples could enter civil unions, there is another story that is going largely unnoticed. Also on June 1, all adoption and foster agencies that receive public funding will be required to place children with gay, lesbian or cohabitating couples in spite of their religious beliefs — or shut down. Already the Diocese of Rockport has stopped its adoption and foster services, and 58 employees were let go.
One has to wonder how long it will be before the other dioceses in Illinois follow suit. Catholic Charities provides roughly 20 percent of all adoptions in Illinois. Losing this resource will be a tremendous blow to the children who need it.
This is not about civil rights. Having a child is not a right but a privilege, and adoption or foster agencies have the obligation to act in the best interests of the child. Many of these agencies do not feel it is in the best interests of the child to place him or her with a same-sex or cohabitating couple.
There are 50 adoption agencies and over 70 foster agencies registered with DCFS, many of whom, I am sure, would be happy to work with a gay or lesbian couple. The Cradle in Evanston, is one such place. I have visited their website. Their adoptive parents-to-be are gay, straight and single. Many other adoption agencies had gay or lesbian couples on their list of prospective parents.
Instead of encouraging gay and lesbian couples to find an agency willing to work with them, the supporters of this ironically named "Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act" want to force faith-based organizations to go against their beliefs or shut down. These are the same people who call for tolerance and diversity. We now know just how tolerant they are.
Note: I am adopted myself and am Catholic.