Michigan Same-Sex Adoption Decision May Have Unintended Outcomes

• If the bills pass and same-sex couples can be denied adoption services, the pool of potential adoptive parents decreases to the detriment of Michigan’s children in foster care and to the Michigan taxpayer.

 

• If the bills are killed, then up to 56% of the state’s adoption agencies/branches could shut down or stop offering services, also to the detriment of the children. 

 

Yesterday, bills HB 4188, 4189 and 4190 passed Michigan’s House Families, Children and Seniors committee. The bills would allow faith-based adoption agencies to reject serving clients who violate their ‘sincerely held religious beliefs.’ In other words, faith-based adoption agencies (that receive nearly $10 million in state and federal funding) would have the right to discriminate against placing children with same-sex and single parents. 

 

The bills are opposed by the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and Equality Michigan. They are supported by faith-based adoption agencies and the Michigan Catholic Conference. The bills now move to the full House for a vote. 

 

Regardless of outcome, it’s bad for Michigan’s foster children & taxpayers

 

Per the U.S. Department of Health & Human Resources, 3,337 Michigan children in foster care are legally cleared for adoption and cannot find homes. 

 

If the bills pass and same-sex adoption can be denied in Michigan, the pool of potential adoptive parents decreases. There are already 3,337 children for whom they cannot find adoptive families; decreasing the pool will just exacerbate the problem. Not only that, but gays adopt more of the harder-to-place children--those who are older, have special needs and are least likely to find homes.  

 

Fewer adoptive parents means fewer adoptions. If the bills pass, it will cost taxpayers more through extended foster care or group home stays. Children who aren’t placed with adoptive or foster parents reside in group homes. Housing a child in a group home costs taxpayers approximately $35,000 per year per child. Compare this to the cost of placing a child with a foster family, which is approximately $5,000 per child per year. If a child is adopted, taxpayers no longer support the child as adoptive parents typically take on 100% of costs associated with raising a child. These are the short-term costs. 

 

Longer term, children who age-out of the foster care system never having been adopted have much higher rates of incarceration, homelessness, and public assistance needs--all which costs the taxpayer more indefinitely as the former foster child becomes an adult who may live to be 40, 50, 60, 70 years old… 

 

Also, women who age-out of foster care have high out-of-wedlock pregnancy rates within two years of leaving the system. Many of them have never learned proper parenting skills, which then just perpetuates the cycle of this problem as their children are more likely to end up in the public welfare system. 

 

These bills are discriminatory. Let’s just fight to block them.

Sounds easy, but here’s the catch that also hurts both children and taxpayers... 

 

Per Michigan's 2012 surrendered newborn adoption agency handbook, there are 359 total adoption agencies/branches in Michigan. Of those, 201 (56%) contain the word "Catholic," "Christian," Methodist," or "LDS (Latter Day Saints)" in the agency’s name. Based on that, if the bill gets killed and these organizations are forced to either close down because they won't get funding any longer, or they discontinue offering adoption services to avoid working with same-sex couples, potentially up to 56% of the agencies facilitating adoptions in Michigan could shut their doors. 

 

If that happens, could the remaining 44% of agencies (I'm going to assume on the bright side that none of the other agencies are religious-affiliated) pick up the slack? Seems hard to believe, but if it were possible, it would take time for these other agencies to ramp up--all which means more kids languish in the foster care system and become further traumatized at a higher tax payer expense. 

 

But then again... to a parent-less child, the closure of one good agency or the denial of potential loving adoptive parents is a loss. 

 

 

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