New York state officials have given the New Hope adoption agency an ultimatum – either violate your Christian beliefs or be shut down.
Since 1965, New Hope’s mission is “to be Christ’s hands extended to offer hope and help to people with pregnancy, parenting, adoption or post-abortion needs in the Syracuse area and throughout the State of New York.”
Because of its religious beliefs, the church-funded agency only places children with married heterosexual couples, a policy which the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) disagrees.
After reviewing New Hope’s policies, the OCFS wrote a letter to the agency saying “It was found that the agency’s policy pertaining to not placing ‘children with those who are living together without the benefit of marriage’ or ‘same sex couples’ violates Title 18 NYCRR § 421.3, and is discriminatory and impermissible.”
The letter provided an ultimatum that New Hope either “revise the present policy and continue the existing adoption program” or “fail to bring the policy into compliance with the regulation,” in which case “OCFS will be unable to approve continuation of New Hope’s current adoption program and New Hope will be required to submit a close-out plan for the adoption program.”
While the New York legislature allowed unmarried and same-sex partners to adopt beginning in 2010, it does not mandate that agencies place their children with non-traditional parents.
The Alliance Defending Freedom is representing New Hope and says the OCFS is violating the agency’s freedom of religion.
“Every child deserves a forever home with loving parents,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jeana Hallock. “For over 50 years, New Hope has served New York by offering a comprehensive, ‘arm-around-the-shoulder’ ministry and walking with adoptive couples and birth parents to place children with adoptive families. Protecting these nonprofits does nothing to interfere with other adoption providers who hold different convictions.”
“But eliminating New Hope as a faith-based adoption provider means fewer kids find a forever home, fewer adoptive parents will ever welcome their new child, and fewer birth parents enjoy the exceptional support that New Hope has offered for decades,” she continued. “In short, everyone loses if the government forces New Hope to shut down.”
ADF attorneys urged a federal court last week to stop state officials from targeting New Hope.