Two Johnson County representatives have introduced a bill that — if passed — would repeal the Kansas Adoption Protection Act passed in 2018.  The Act provides that faith-based agencies, such as Catholic Charities, could not be forced to place children in homes that violated their religious beliefs.

Reps. Susan Ruiz, (D-Shawnee), and Brandon Woodard, (D-Lenexa), have introduced HB2047, to repeal the act.

The Adoption Protection Act permits faith-based adoption agencies to refuse to place a child in a single-parent home, or with a same-sex couple, it does not mean those families would be prevented from adopting at all — as some critics contended.

The vast majority of adoptions are done privately, between parents and an adoption attorney, without the involvement of any agency.

Former state rep Charles Weber, who was one of the co-sponsors of the Adoption Protection Act and is now the executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, noted this.

“The majority of adoptions in Kansas are facilitated by private adoption lawyers who are not bound by any restrictions,” he said. “Plus, there are, at any given time, between 31-35 adoption agencies in Kansas – large and small. 

“Of these, about a dozen or so are ‘faith-based.’ Of THAT number, perhaps 3 or 4 agencies — at the most — would take advantage of the provisions of the adoption protection act.”

Weber said what Woodard and Ruiz want to return to is a situation in which — far from preventing discrimination — religious organizations would be the ones facing discrimination.

“We had all seen what had been happening around the country to faith-based adoption and foster care placement agencies,” Weber said. “They were being forced to shut down rather than violate their deeply held religious beliefs. These agencies, ever since they engaged in the adoption/foster care arena, many for 100+ years, had adhered to their deeply held religious beliefs — and in later years good social science — that children thrive best in a home with a married mom and dad. They had always placed children in adoptive or foster care homes with a married mom and dad.  

“The APA assured them they could keep operating their missions like they always had without government or other interference.”

Rep Susan Humphries, (R-Wichita), herself an adoption attorney, carried the bill and noted there was a great deal of misinformation at the time.

“From the beginning there was a lot of misinformation about what this act is about,” she said. “In hearings, people who were testifying, I asked them ‘if this passes do you think you will not be able to adopt?'”

Humphries said there were several who thought that would be the case. However, as Humphries pointed out, state law does, in fact, allow single people, same-sex couples, and unmarried couples to adopt, and as Weber noted, a great many options for them.

Weber says this is in many ways a cultural matter which is already finding itself in the courts.

“In recent years, legislators and courts have determined that these faith-based agencies should be subject to the imposition of newly discovered cultural norms, including those about human sexuality, parenting and the family,’ Weber said. “If these agencies did not comply with these ‘new norms,’ they were not allowed to participate in government foster care or adoption placement systems.  

“We saw this in California, St. Louis, New York and elsewhere.  The Philadelphia Catholic Charities case is winding its way through the courts.”

Humphries said it was about making sure there are as many options as possible for adoption in the state. 

“By putting these protections in place, we’re ensuring that every child-placing agency will continue to exist., and there is room for everyone,” Humphries said. “We need those foster families, we need those adoptive families. 

“These protections let everyone be a player in the marketplace, exercising their religion … so that we can continue to have a robust marketplace for people who want to foster and who want to adopt.”

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