Originating from a 1977 adoption day initiative by Massachusetts Governor Mike Dukakis, November is set to recognize adoptive families and to raise awareness for the persisting needs of orphaned children.
The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) estimates that there are about 153 million orphaned in the world. In the US alone, more than 400,000 children are in foster care, with over 100,000 waiting to be adopted. While these children wait with the simple hope of belonging to a family, more complex systems and processes weigh in.
On November 4th, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) argued whether or not foster care and adoption agencies – specifically Catholic Social Services (CSS)- have the right to deny certification to LGBTQ+ couples. After the city of Philadelphia stopped referring children to CSS because they refused to agree to certify same-sex couples seeking to adopt or foster children, CSS sued the city of Philadelphia in Sharonell Fulton et al., v City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, et al..
Represented by Lori Windham of Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, CSS argued that the free exercise clause allows for them to hold their own beliefs as an independent, private contractor with the city rather than an employee or agent of the city. She claimed that CSS cannot certify, as the city wishes, a same-sex couple’s home for foster care or adoption as it would endorse and validate same-sex marriage, which violate CSS’s Catholic beliefs.
Justice Alito and Justice Kavanaugh elicited that not one same-sex couple had come to CSS to be certified in its 200 years of service and that in the event that a same-sex couple does come to CSS, the organization can simply refer the couple to an agency that works with same- sex couples. CSS is just 1 of the 30 foster and adoption agencies in the Philadelphia area. Windham finally remarked that the public square is large enough for both CSS to operate and for certified same-sex couples to exist simultaneously. A ruling of the SCOTUS is expected by the end of June.
As the Supreme Court Justices begin to deliberate this case, let us hope that the children in need of a home are at the forefront of each justices’ decision. A national effort to support the family can only help the United States and the world as a whole, for “[a]s the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live.”