On July 30, the controversial Family Research Council (FRC) began promoting the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act. Contrary to what its name suggests, the act actually works to exclude LGBT people from the pool of potential adoptive parents; it essentially prevents states from ratifying anti-discrimination measures on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. That said, the language in the bill is actually rather broad. It mandates that states don’t take part in “discriminating or taking an adverse action against a child welfare service provider on the basis that the provider declines to provide a child welfare service that conflicts, or under circumstances that conflict, with the sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions of the provider.” It’s likely that the act will do more than just effectively limit the creation of LGBT families.
The political drive towards preventing LGBT people from becoming parents has a very public history in the US. In 2012, radio host Bryan Fischer advocated the forced removal of children from their LGBT parents’ homes. More subtly, the growing adoption movement in conservative Christian circles is based on the idea that only a specific type of family is worth supporting—namely, one that excludes LGBT parents.
The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act (and the FRC’s campaign supporting it) were motivated by the belief that state and federal funding should support organizations that uphold traditional family values.
Indeed, adoption and foster care have faced considerable criticism. On a local level, placement procedures often punish disadvantaged parents, while internationally they have resulted in children being taken from their parents under questionable circumstances. The burgeoning conservative Christian adoption movement has frequently been behind these unethical adoptions (if not kidnappings), but reforming or ending such practices is less of a concern than prioritizing the “right” kind of prospective parents. At times, conservative groups have blamed coercive conditions as a reason to ban LGBT people from consideration by adoption agencies altogether, as though families with LGBT parents and their kids don’t face similar intimidation.
In this crossfire of political ideas, there’s also the longstanding conservative Christian ideal of adoption as an alternative to abortion. Many anti-abortion organizations are becoming increasingly supportive of—if not affiliated with—Christian adoption agencies, prioritizing policies that attempt to put as many children on the market for adoption as possible.
There’s a broader cultural context, not only with opposition to abortion, restrictions on LGBT people adopting, and conversion-focused, ethically dubious adoptions, but also with conservative Christians’ own quiverfull movement. Nearly every aspect of these tightly interrelated politics are designed to funnel children into a specific set of home environments. The FRC’s petition in support of the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act is yet another means of ensuring that certain families cannot be permitted to exist.