Children First

How The Church Should Advocate Adoption

November is Adoption Awareness Month in the United States—a national effort to promote the cause of the more than 125,000 children currently in foster care and awaiting adoption. Historically the Catholic Church has invested a great deal of its charitable efforts in the care of orphaned children, but recently adoption has become a battleground for concerns about religious freedom. The church is reluctant to place children with parents it deems inadequate—most prominently gay and lesbian couples—and these policies often run afoul of state antidiscrimination laws. Rather than compromise, some Catholic agencies get out of the adoption business altogether, as the archdiocese of Boston did in 2006. My own Midwestern diocese will soon follow suit.

It’s unfortunate that the church is abandoning its adoption outreach in these places—and equally unfortunate that an exemption can’t be made to allow Catholic Charities to continue to do its work. For Catholics, adoption is more than a useful public program; it is a response to the gospel imperative to serve the poor and powerless. But as an adoptive parent, I am frustrated with the official pronouncements from the church on the subject of adoption. When the topic is raised, it is often in the service of a political agenda, and usually with a focus on the needs of adults. There’s little...

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About the Author

Todd Flowerday is director of liturgy and music for St. Thomas Aquinas Church and Catholic Student Center at Iowa State University.