RELEASE: CAP Report Shows Impact of Laws That Discriminate Against LGBTQ Foster and Adoptive Parents

Washington, D.C. — As a growing number of states pass laws allowing private adoption agencies to turn away LGBTQ couples, a new report shows the discriminatory impact these policies have on prospective parents and the harm they inflict on the U.S. child welfare system.

The report from the Center for American Progress, Voice for Adoption, and the North American Council on Adoptable Children describes how these religious exemption laws — and a lack of explicit laws protecting LGBTQ people — allow child welfare agencies to block LGBTQ couples from becoming foster or adoptive parents, harming the best interests of children in care.

“These states are letting religious groups weaponize their anti-LGBTQ viewpoint to discriminate against qualified, loving prospective parents,” said Frank J. Bewkes, lead author of the report and policy analyst for LGBT Research and Communications Project at CAP. “These laws deprive foster youth of potential families at a time when the child welfare system cannot afford to be turning qualified parents away.”

Among the findings in the report:

  • In Texas, about a quarter of private agencies include a statement of faith on their website that rejects same sex adoption.
  • Only 10 percent of Texas agency websites include a nondiscrimination policy for sexual orientation and/or gender identity or positive mentions of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • In 3 of the 10 most populous cities of Texas, there is no agency within the greater metro region that has posted a nondiscrimination policy that is inclusive of LGBTQ people on its website. That means a same-sex couple in El Paso, Texas, might avoid the nearest agency one mile away for fear of being turned away, and instead drive 348 miles to an agency with an LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination policy on their website.
  • Each child adopted from foster care reduces state and federal spending and saves taxpayers almost $29,000 per child per year when compared with those children remaining in foster care.
  • Finding adoptive homes for just a thousand 10-year-old children in foster care, who would otherwise have aged out of care at 18, would save taxpayers about $230 million over eight years.

The report urges states to enact nondiscrimination laws for prospective foster and adoptive parents that are inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity. It calls on states with religious exemptions for child placement agencies to repeal those measures.

Along with the report, CAP is releasing a video of an Illinois couple, John Freml and Rick Nelson, who say their foster daughter was removed from their care after the child’s biological relatives objected to her being placed with a same-sex couple. Their story is another example of the need for laws preventing discrimination against LGBT people in the adoption and fostering process.

Read the report: “Welcoming All Families: Discrimination Against LGBTQ Foster and Adoptive Parents Hurts Children” by Frank J. Bewkes, Shabab Ahmed Mirza, Caitlin Rooney, Laura E. Durso, Joe Kroll, and Elly Wong.

For more information, or to speak with an expert, contact Sam Hananel at shananel@americanprogress.org or 202-478-6327.