Adoption and Foster Care Placement Policies Legislatively Promoting the Best Interest of Children Amidst Competing Interests of Religious Freedom and Equal Protection for Same-Sex Couples

Samantha R. Lyew - Journal of Legislation

This article examines adoption and foster care placement policies as they pertain to the competing interests of religious freedom and equal protection for same-sex couples. Advocates for same-sex couples seek to advance open access to adoption and foster care for all couples, while religious freedom advocates seek to advance religious freedom at the expense of working with same sex couples.

Beginning with the fundamental principle that children thrive in families, this note provides an overview of foster care, explores the best interest of the child and examines state policy initiatives and legislative means to advance.  This note states that adoption and foster care are the best solutions for children at risk or for children who lack families with which to reside. When considering the best interest of the child, the promotion of adoption of foster care and adoption should take precedent over competing interest, such as those involved with religious freedom and rights of same sex couples.  Lyew expresses concern that pursuit of competing interests may risk loss of consideration for the best interest of the child.

A common deficiency in the fight for religious freedom is that religious objectors fight for a policy that would decrease the pool of potential adoptive parents or lose the chance of placing children at all.  Same sex policies can cause religious affiliated adoption and foster care placement agencies to close rather than comply with anti-discrimination statutes.

These issues are extremely polarizing politically, and there is an urgent need to legislatively promote the best interest of the child.  Legislative amendments would allow religious placement agencies to continue work while abiding to religious convictions, and it will prevent gross discrimination against same-sex couples.