A State in Crisis
Each year in Michigan alone, over 600 children “age out” of the foster system, meaning that at the age of 18 they are on their own, leaving them without the family, resources, or support they need to make it as they start their lives as adults. This number is on the rise, with special needs and minority youth particularly vulnerable to ending up back on the streets in poverty, without an education. That’s why the State of Michigan relies heavily on private adoption agencies like St. Vincent Catholic Charities to help fill this acute need.
St. Vincent Plays a Vital Role
St. Vincent is one of the oldest and most effective foster and adoption agencies in Michigan. St. Vincent has served children and families for over 65 years, helping those in crisis find hope and safety both in their own homes and with new families. Like other private agencies, St. Vincent recruits and supports foster and adoptive families, many of whom would not become foster families without St. Vincent’s help.
St. Vincent is particularly good at finding safe and nurturing homes for sibling groups, older children, minority children, and children with special needs.
In 2017, St. Vincent recruited more new adoptive families than nearly 90 percent of the other agencies in its service area. St. Vincent's religious mission gives it a unique position to recruit families who value its religious beliefs, families who might not otherwise have been aware of or considered adoption through the foster care system.
St. Vincent excels at continuing to provide counseling and support to families after placement. Many of the children served by St. Vincent have undergone the trauma of physical or emotional abuse, neglect, or have experienced the illness or death of a parent. St. Vincent provides individual, family, and group therapy, monthly visits to the foster home, visitation with birth parents and other relatives, and monitoring and referrals to community resources for additional treatment and support.
St. Vincent’s Religious Mission Has Never Prevented Anyone from Fostering or Adopting a Child
Part of the process followed by private foster and adoption agencies involves performing in-depth assessments and making written endorsements and recommendations to the state about potential foster families. The state makes the ultimate decision about which families to license, and families licensed with one agency can still adopt kids in the care of another agency.
St. Vincent serves and places children regardless of their race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Because of its religious mission, St. Vincent can’t make written recommendations to the state if doing so would contradict its religious beliefs about marriage. But St. Vincent will always also make sure that any family who wants to foster or adopt will be able to do so, whether St. Vincent works with them directly or refers them to one of seven nearby agencies who can better serve their needs. Agencies in Michigan refer families elsewhere for many reasons, including closer proximities to other agencies or long waiting lists.
In fact, in part because this system works so well to meet the needs of foster children and potential parents, gay couples have been able to work with other agencies to adopt foster children in St. Vincent’s care in the past.
St. Vincent's mission is "to share the love of Christ." Their goal is to offer hope and safety to help the people in their care transform their lives. But a needless lawsuit from the ACLU is putting this essential work in jeopardy.
ACLU Scoring political points at the expense of kids
The ACLU is working to end critical services that so many children depend on simply to score cheap political points.
St. Vincent’s first priority is the children in its care—children of diverse faiths, ethnicities, sexual orientation, and gender identities—and it works tirelessly to find them families.
The ACLU can’t say the same.
In September 2017, the ACLU filed a lawsuit that would close some of the most successful foster and adoption programs in the state, including St. Vincent. The ACLU’s clients drove past four agencies that would have helped them adopt or foster children and instead demanded St. Vincent prepare written statements recommending them to the state. Why? So the ACLU could justify a lawsuit that would forbid Michigan from relying on faith-based adoption agencies like St. Vincent.
Gay couples have been able to work with other agencies to adopt children in St. Vincent’s care in the past, and the ACLU’s clients in this case could have done the same thing. Despite the availability of these alternatives that would have allowed the ACLU’s clients to serve children, they have refused these services for years so they can continue to justify a needless lawsuit.
ACLU’s lawsuit is not about helping kids. It’s about scoring cheap political points at the expense of kids. The only thing that the ACLU’s lawsuit would accomplish is fewer homes for children, especially minority children and those with special needs. That’s why Michigan’s Child Services recently said that the ACLU’s lawsuit “will do nothing to help a single child find a home.”
In March 2018, the Court granted Becket’s motion to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of St. Vincent Catholic Charities, Shamber Flore and the Buck family. Becket asked the court to dismiss this unnecessary lawsuit, but in September 2018 the court decided the case should go forward.