The 85th Texas Legislator recently passed Texas House Bill 3859 that protects adoption agencies right of conscience to deny prospective parents from adopting who they deem unfit. This is in fact a reasonable law as the country seems to continue to want to slowly erase First Amendment protections to religious freedom, contrary to the media hysteria that has resounded with a discrimination alarm. The problem is more about the relationship that adoption agencies have with the state. Single parents should have adoption access by finding an agency that works with singles who want to be parents.
The core concern that “only Christian groups are contracted with the state, [advocates have] raised concerns that taxpayer-funded agencies will be protected if they reject parents of other faiths.” However, the bill explicitly reads “It is the intent of the legislature to maintain a diverse network of service providers that offer a range of foster capacity options and that can accommodate children from various cultural backgrounds.” Why do adoption organizations have a relationship with the state? Why does the state, or a state approved agency, need to be involved in foster care and adoption? Those are the two essential questions related to Texas. The fact that only Christian adoption agencies have a relationship with the state and act as the state’s adoption middle man is secondary. That problem reflects the second question. If the state controls the foster care system, it has control over what type of agencies it wants to be involved with state adoption. In states that are not as conservative or religious as Texas, such as Washington and New York, the types of agencies that the state works with are probably different from those of Texas. That is how federalism works. States are independent to make their own laws and operate differently from other states. Anyone who wants to become a parent should be able to, but the adoption organization that parents go to should have the right to disapprove a candidate if they do not fit an adoption agency’s requirements and any state laws.
By taking power away from the state to penalize agencies and giving more to adoption agencies, it gives more freedom and choice to the consumers who want to become parents. This will also help to decentralize the adoption agency market that state often controls by using only one or a couple of approved providers in its foster care network. Such is the case with the controversy currently surrounding Texas. Since adoption organizations’ have different criteria for what a prospective parent must meet before they are able to adopt, there will be some agencies that will not accept certain people. This is actually fine, although it is contrary to current popular thought. For example, there is a single woman who has been divorced twice. This woman goes to three different agencies with three different requirements. The first agency is an orthodox Catholic adoption agency that requires that prospective parents have been married for a certain number of years, are in a good marriage, and do not think that they will divorce in the future. The second agency requires information from the potential parent regarding their yearly salary, criminal record, and any health concerns that may come up when the agency runs a background check. Finally, the third is a progressive adoption agency that only requires that the parent will be able to care for the child and does not have any history of child abuse and a criminal record. Which of these three agencies will the twice divorced single parent most likely meet the agencies requirements for? Options two and three. Each agency had its own prerequisites, but the first option most likely would require that the parent be Christian or Catholic, ask if she has annulled her past marriages, and if she regularly goes to church. The other two won’t be concerned with these type of questions. For this reason, she will still be able to adopt but it will be through organizations that she meets the requirements of. This scenario can be changed with a gay couple, atheists or Hindus, and for single parents. They will still be able to find access to an agency to become parents that is fine with certain lifestyles because they are not in a relationship with the state that will have its own criteria.
People are single for a number of reasons, the unmarried are a growing demographic in countries, and solutions need to be found to let them become parents. The two main ways are adoption or through in vitro fertilization for singles who want to become parents. Both of those options would have improved access for single parents if the state or federal government did create arbitrary definitions or worked with agencies that will naturally approve certain candidates and not others for adoption. The United States is a Constitutional Republic that is based upon federalism. All states have the ability to make their own laws and to test ideas as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously stated in his dissent, “The ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.” Some single parents may not be able to become parents in Texas because of the state’s laws and how it operates with foster care agencies. Those singles who really want to be parents should seek out an agency that will approve someone who is unmarried to become a parent through adoption rather than complain about the Texas’ new bill.