The state of New York has agreed to pay $250,000 to a Christian adoption agency after trying to shut it down for its religious beliefs.
The settlement ensures that New Hope Family Services can no longer be targeted for its faith-based policies by the New York Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS).
New York State officials attempted to close the Syracuse-based facility for its policy of placing children solely with married, heterosexual couples.
The payment will cover attorneys’ fees and court costs after four years of threatened action by the OCFS.
Both the U.S. Court of Appeals and a federal district court have permanently prohibited the state of New York from enforcing state law “insofar as it would compel New Hope to process applications from, or place children for adoption with, same-sex couples or unmarried cohabitating couples, and insofar as it would prevent New Hope from referring such couples to other agencies.”
Christian advocacy group ADF International supported New Hope in its case.
ADF Senior Counsel Roger Brooks says the state’s attempt to close New Hope "violates its core rights protected by the First Amendment" and "needlessly reduced the number of agencies willing to help vulnerable children.”
“New Hope is a private religious ministry that doesn’t take a dime from the government. Further, New Hope’s faith-guided services don’t coerce anyone and do nothing to interfere with other adoption providers who have different beliefs about family and the best interests of children."
New Hope Family Services Executive Director Kathy Jerman argues that “every child deserves a home with a loving mother and father who are committed to each other.”
“New Hope walks with adoptive families and birth parents alike to place children with adoptive families. It’s regrettable that New York ever threatened to shut down our adoption services, through which we have placed more than 1,000 children with adoptive families since we began in 1965. We live in a diverse state, and we need more adoption providers, not fewer. We’re grateful this case has reached a favourable end that allows us to keep serving children and families.”