Many Christian families dream of adopting. Not only does scripture call us to defend the orphan, but Christians are also supposed to care for those in need. However, single mother of five, Jessica Bates, is not being allowed to live out her God-given dream because of her Christian faith.
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
Why would Christianity be a disqualification to adopt a child in need of a loving home?
According to a lawsuit brought by Alliance Defending Freedom, Christian beliefs do not allow a parent to “respect, accept, and support … the sexual orientation, gender identity, [and]gender expression” of the children in the Christian parent’s care as the department’s adoption regulations require.
After losing her husband in a fatal car accident six years ago, Jessica Bates has poured her heart into raising her five children. In March 2022, she began the application process for adoption, hoping to adopt a sibling pair that were both under the age of 10. However, she quickly “realized that her faith might conflict with some of the Department’s expectations for adoptive parents.” Bates is now fighting the Oregon Department of Human Services for denying her application because of her Christian faith.
There happened to be one training that an instructor told Bates that Oregon law requires adoptive parents to “affirm” a child’s gender identity, sexual orientation, and preferred pronouns, according to the lawsuit. Adoptive parents are also strictly prohibited from sharing any beliefs they hold that would be contrary to an “affirming culture.”
“Jessica wants to open her home to children in need right now, but Oregon officials are placing a dangerous ideological agenda above kids’ best interests,” ADF Legal Counsel Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse shares. “Jessica is a loving mother who feels called to adopt siblings from foster care. Oregon is categorically excluding her merely because she shares a view held by millions of Americans: that boys and girls are biologically different. Jessica believes children should cherish that difference, not reject it.”
Jessica Bates has filed a lawsuit against the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) in regards to her situation. However, a lower court ruled against her. Now, Bates is appealing to the 9th Circuit to allow her to access Oregon’s adoption system free of discrimination while her lawsuit continues.
“Because Jessica will not promote Oregon’s radical gender ideology to young kids, the state considers her and many others to be ‘unfit’ parents, depriving countless children in Oregon’s system of opportunities to be raised in a loving home,” Widmalm-Delphonse added. “We are urging the 9th Circuit to allow Jessica to continue her adoption journey and provide a loving home to children in need.”
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Although Bates told ODHS she would happily love and accept any child placed with her, they still denied her application because she would not agree to say and do things that conflict with her faith. She would be required to use false pronouns inconsistent with a child’s sex or help children use body-altering drugs, like cross-sex hormones, to block their natural development.
The opening brief in Bates v. Pakseresht explains, “Oregon [cannot]justify excluding as prospective parents the hundreds of thousands of Oregonians who share Bates’ religious views about human sexuality…Including people like Bates maximizes the number of families available to adopt children in need and increases the odds every child eventually finds a loving home.” Bates highlights that “Oregon’s categorical exclusion uses a sledgehammer when the First Amendment demands a scalpel,” pointing out that “the federal government and most other states avoid categorical exclusions and match specific children with compatible families…This policy achieves nothing but serves only to violate the First Amendment and harm kids in need of homes.”
Jessica Bates has stood firm on her faith and the First Amendment. We are praying that Bates sees victory in this case, allowing her and many other Christian families to give children a loving home.