Religious issues complicate adoption


Adoption trends

Boston Globe journalist who heads the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute in New York. Adoption trends include:

  • Researchers and leaders in the field are stressing the importance of placing children with adoptive and foster families of the same race if possible;
  • Interracial, intercultural and interreligious adoptions are increasing, creating a need for more training and religious and cultural sensitivity on the part of adoptive families and potentially creating identity conflicts and issues for adoptees.
  • Because many older children – many of them African-American or mixed-race – need homes, agencies have opened doors to adoptive parents not previously considered “suitable”: single parents, gays and lesbians, transracial couples, people of modest means, renters and working couples. For parents who are not affluent, adoption from foster care has been the route for some time.
  • International adoptions are increasing, creating the potential for profound identity issues for parents, children and young adult adoptees.
  • Faith communities – particularly European-Jewish congregations –find themselves facing identity questions as they embrace African-American, Asian and Latino adoptees. Pertman, noting implications for the age-old debate about who is a Jew, says he has seen Chinese cultural festivals in synagogues to support the large number of infants adopted from China.
  • An increase in infertility and the lessening of the stigma of single parenthood have resulted in fewer infants available for adoption.
  • Many believe that adoption is remaking the definition of family and redefining parenthood, and there are an increasing number of scholars studying it. “Encountering New Worlds of Adoption: The 2nd International Conference on Adoption and Culture” will take place Oct. 11-14, 2007, at the University of Pittsburgh. See a list of speakers, who include scholars, authors, and activists.
  • Today birth mothers, rather than agencies, more often choose the families who receive their children. The result is a diminishment – though not the elimination – of the role of religion in placement. Previously, birth mothers relinquished babies to agencies, often religious agencies, which selected the adoptive families according to religious criteria.
  • Openness is the trend, to a greater or lesser degree. That means involving birth parents more. In a completely “open” adoption, birth families retain a relationship with adopted children.
  • Religious institutions have played a central role in caring for orphans and finding homes for them since the 1800s. At the same time, some religious groups have at times promoted shame and secrecy through efforts to reinforce moral lessons about marriage and sexual mores, by identifying with more affluent, mostly white adoptive families and by disempowering birth parents, who are more likely than adoptive parents to be single, poor and/or immigrant. Faith organizations and congregations are still big players in the adoption world. They help relinquishing parents place their children and give them support during the pregnancy. They recruit adoptive and foster families and give them support and mentoring. They create their own social service agencies or work with other adoption agencies, and they lobby for just and humane adoption laws and policies.

National sources


  • Howard Altstein is a professor in the University of Maryland School of Social Work. With Rita Simon, he has investigated interracial and intercountry adoption and has written about family preservation programs, marriage and divorce. He is conversant in all topics related to adoption, including single-parent, gay and lesbian and embryo adoptions. He studied white parents and nonwhite (mostly black) adoptees from 1968 to 1991. The study is described in Adoption, Race and Identity: From Infancy to Young Adulthood. Contact 410-706-7839,
  • Attorney Shay Bilchik was president and CEO of the Child Welfare League of America in Arlington, Va., from 2000 until February 2007. Before that, he was administrator of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. He can discuss the controversies and his agency’s and the nation’s history and policies regarding cross-racial adoptions. Contact 703-412-2400.
  • David M. Brodzinsky is an expert on the psychology of adoption in children. He co-edited The Psychology of Adoption (with Marshall D. Schechter) and co-wrote Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self (with Schechter and Robin Marantz Henig). Brodzinsky is a psychology professor at Rutgers University’s Piscataway/Busch campus and an expert on adoption research, interracial adoption, adoption outcomes, foster care, stress and coping in children, developmental psychopathology and divorce and child custody issues. Contact 732-445-2576 or 732-445-4036,
  • Michael J. Broyde is a professor of law and senior fellow at the Center for Law and Religion at Emory University. An ordained rabbi and expert in Jewish law, he is author of Marriage, Sex and Family in Judaism. He wrote the chapter, “Adoption, Personal Status and Jewish Law” in The Morality of Adoption: Social-Psychological, Theological and Legal Perspectives. Contact 404-727-7546,
  • Ram A. Cnaan, is director of the Program for Religion and Social Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as a professor, associate dean of research and chair of the doctoral program in social welfare. He has said that many faith-based organizations that deliver social services – such as adoption services -- are looking at how their religious values are reflected in their social work, particularly when there is a conflict between government nondiscrimination policies and a faith’s teachings. Contact 215-898-5523,
  • Father Songs: Testimonies by African-American Sons and Daughters. Crane can discuss ethical and religious questions from a liberal religious perspective and also issues of adoption. Contact 978-440-8428,
  • Ellen Herman, professor of contemporary American history at the University of Oregon, is writing a book tentatively titled Kinship by Design: Child Adoption in Modern America, examining the history of modern adoption as an experiment in social engineering. She is the creator of the Adoption History Project. She can discuss religion and adoption, the history of efforts to regulate adoption, adoption and the welfare state and scientific and social theories as they apply to adoption in the U.S. The fierce controversy surrounding religious matching in adoption a century ago has largely been displaced, she says, by similar debates about the significance of race, ethnicity and nation in family-making. Contact 541-346-3118,
  • Patricia Irwin Johnston, an infertility and adoption educator, is the author of Adopting: Sound Choices, Strong Families; Launching a Baby’s Adoption: Practical Strategies for Parents and Professionals; and Adoption Is a Family Affair!: What Relatives and Friends Must Know. She has spoken, written and advocated about infertility and adoption issues for 30 years, is former national board chairwoman of RESOLVE (a national infertility association) and served on the national board of Adoptive Families of America. She moderates online forums on the subject at the InterNational Council on Infertility Information Dissemination and directs workshops for professionals and prospective adopting parents. Contact 317-872-3055,
  • Marianne Novy wrote Reading Adoption: Family and Difference in Fiction and Drama, a book about adoption themes in literature. She is convener of a conference called “Encountering New Worlds of Adoption,” which will take place Oct. 11-14, 2007, at the University of Pittsburgh. She is a professor of English and women’s studies at the University of Pittsburgh. She has taught a graduate course on the literature of adoption and is founding co-chairwoman of the Alliance for the Study of Adoption, Identity and Kinship (in Literature). Contact 412-624-6516,
  • Joyce Maguire Pavao is a psychologist, marriage and family therapist and licensed social worker. She is CEO of the Center for Family Connections, a clinic and consulting and training center in Cambridge, Mass., and is an adoptee. She is an advisory board member of Adoptive Families magazine and Fostering Families Today magazine and the Child Welfare League of America and is a lecturer in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. She wrote The Family of Adoption and contributed to other books, including Clinical and Practice Issues in Adoption: Bridging the Gap Between Adoptees Placed as Infants and as Older Children. Her expertise includes foster care, guardianship and kinship, families formed through reproductive technology, the spiritual journey of abused adoptees, adoption searches, attachment, transracial and international adoptions, AIDS and adoption, and placement of older children. Contact or call assistant Katherine Walker, 617-547-0909.
  • Adam Pertman is executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute in New York City. A journalist and an adoptive father, Pertman was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his writing in The Boston Globe on the subject. He wrote Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution is Transforming America. Contact 212-925-4089,
  • Linda S. Spears is the voice of the Child Welfare League of America. She has been a social worker, manager and agency head and is a former director of field support for the Massachusetts Department of Social Services. An enrolled member of the Narragansett Indian Tribe, she is expert on issues of Indian child welfare. Among topics she can discuss are legal and bureaucratic issues, foster care and out-of-home placement, family preservation, child protection, adoption and cultural sensitivity. Contact her through Joyce Johnson in the CWLA Arlington, Va., media center, 804-492-4519,
  • T
    he Open Adoption Book: A Guide to Making Adoption Work for You. Contact 877-924-2287,

  • Timothy P. Jackson is associate professor of Christian ethics at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta. He edited The Morality of Adoption: Social-Psychological, Theological and Legal Perspectives. Contact 404-727-0818,

  • Ingrid Mattson wrote “Adoption and Fostering: Overview,” an article in the Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures, Volume II: Family, Law and Politics. Mattson is a professor of Islamic studies and Christian-Muslim relations and is director of the Islamic Chaplaincy Program at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Conn. Contact 860-509-9531 (office), 860-509-9534 (department),

  • Jayne E. Schooler wrote The Whole Life Adoption Book: Realistic Advice for Building a Healthy Adoptive Family and other books about adoption and foster care. She is a trainer, consultant and curriculum writer for the Institute for Human Services in Columbus, Ohio, and she brings a Christian perspective to adoption. Her husband is David Schooler, director of Wellspring Ministries at the Countryside Church of the Nazarene in Lebanon, Ohio. Contact


  • Karen Balcom is an assistant professor of history and women’s studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. She is an expert on historical aspects of adoption up to the 1960s, including the history of social welfare policy in the U.S. and Canada and women’s reform networks. She wrote “ ‘Phony Mothers’ and Border-Crossing Adoptions: The Montreal-to-New York Black Market in Babies in the 1950s,” an article in the May 2007 Journal of Women’s History, about a black-market baby ring operating between Canada and the U.S. Contact 905-525-9140 ext. 24152,
  • Attorney Shay Bilchik was president and CEO of the Child Welfare League of America in Arlington, Va., from 2000 until February 2007. Before that, he was administrator of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. He can discuss the controversies and his agency’s and the nation’s history and policies regarding cross-racial adoptions. Contact 703-412-2400.
  • Karen Dubinsky is a professor in the history department of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Her areas of focus include transnational and transracial adoption. Contact 613-533-6000 ext. 74374,
  • Marilyn Irvin Holt of Abilene, Kan., is a historian of American orphanages and an expert on the history of American Indian adoption. She wrote Indian Orphanages and The Orphan Trains: Placing Out in America. Contact 785-263-1572,
  • Heather Jacobson is assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at the University of Texas at Arlington. She is writing a book about how ideologies of race, ethnicity and kinship shape the ways in which white mothers with children adopted ifrom China and Russia engage with birth culture. Contact 817-272-2661,
  • Randall L. Kennedy is Michael R. Klein Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He wrote Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity and Adoption, an examination of the role of race in those arenas. Contact 617-495-0907,, or reach him through his assistant, Benjamin Sears, 617-495-9534.
  • Trish Maskew, president of Ethica, an adoption advocacy organization based in Silver Spring, Md., that works for ethical adoption practices internationally, wrote Our Own: Adopting and Parenting the Older Child. Contact 301-650-0649.
  • Sandra Patton-Imani, an adoptee, is the author of Birth Marks: Transracial Adoption in Contemporary America, in which black and multiracial adoptees discuss their experiences. She is an assistant professor of American studies in the department for the study of culture and society at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. She is working on a documentary film of Birth Marks and on another book, Ghosts in the Tree: Adoption and the “Search” for Self. Contact 515-271-2898,
  • Dorothy Roberts is Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law at Northwestern University School of Law. She wrote Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction and the Meaning of Liberty and is expert on the subject of African-Americans and adoption. Her areas of expertise include the effects of child welfare agency involvement in African-American neighborhoods. She cites federal data to show that, even when families have the same problems and characteristics, black children are most likely to be placed in foster care. In fact, she says, 42 percent of children in foster care are African-American, although they comprise only 17 percent of American children and youth. Contact 312-503-0397,
  • Rhonda M. Roorda is co-author (with Rita J. Simon) of In Their Own Voices: Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories and its sequel, In Their Parents’ Voices: Reflections on Raising Transracial Adoptees,  to be published in fall 2007. She lives in Brighton, Mich. In addition to discussing issues of transracial adoption, Roorda, an adoptee, can describe her own experiences as an African-American adoptee reared in a white, Christian family. Contact
  • Rita Simon is University Professor in the Justice, Law and Society program in the School of Public Affairs at American University in Washington, D.C. She and sociologist Howard Altstein studied white parents and nonwhite (mostly black) adoptees from 1968 to 1991. The study is described in Adoption, Race & Identity: From Infancy to Young Adulthood. With Rhonda Roorda, she co-wrote In Their Own Voices: Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories and In Their Parents’ Voices: Reflections on Raising Transracial Adoptees, in-depth interviews with 24 adult transracial adoptees and parents. With Heather Ahn-Redding, Simon co-wrote Intercountry Adoptees Tell Their Stories, about Asian and Hispanic adoptees. With Sarah Hernandez, she co-wrote Native American Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories. Simon concludes that transracial adoption is a better option than foster care or institutions when adoption within one’s race is not possible. That recommendation is less controversial today than it would have been a decade ago, she says.Contact 202-885-2965,
  • Linda S. Spears is spokeswoman for the Child Welfare League of America. She has been a social worker, manager and agency head and is a former director of field support for the Massachusetts Department of Social Services. An enrolled member of the Narragansett Indian Tribe, she is expert on issues of Indian child welfare. Among topics she can discuss are legal and bureaucratic issues, foster care and out-of-home placement, family preservation, child protection, adoption and cultural sensitivity. Contact her through Joyce Johnson in the CWLA Arlington, Va., media center, 804-492-4519,


  • The American Academy of Adoption Attorneys’ member directory allows a search for attorneys by city, and a media directory gives names of member-spokespeople in each state. It posts a directory of adoption agencies by state, compiled in 2004.
  • Elizabeth Bartholet is Morris Wasserstein Professor of Law and faculty director of the Child Advocacy Program at Harvard Law School. She teaches civil rights and family law and has particular expertise in adoption, child welfare, adoption and reproductive technology. She wrote Family Bonds: Adoption and the Politics of Parenting. Contact 617-495-3128,, or reach her through assistant Carol Bateson, 617-496-0551.
  • Naomi R. Cahn co-edited (with Joan Heifetz Hollinger) Families by Law: An Adoption Reader. Cahn is a professor at George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C., where she teaches family law, trusts and estates. She is an expert on adoption law. Contact 202-994-6025,
  • Joan Heifetz Hollinger is a lecturer (on children and the law) in residence at the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law. She is a scholar of adoption law, including the Indian Child Welfare Act, and of psychosocial aspects of adoptive family relationships. She is an advocate of adoption law reform and has served on the U.S. State Department advisory group on intercountry adoption. She was the principal editor and author of the three-volume Adoption Law and Practice and wrote the American Bar Association guide to the Multiethnic Placement Act, and she co-edited (with Naomi Cahn) Families by Law: An Adoption Reader. Contact 510-642-1419,
  • Stephen Presser is Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History. He wrote the chapter, “Law, Christianity and Adoption” in The Morality of Adoption: Social-Psychological, Theological and Legal Perspectives. Contact 312-503-8371,
  • Barbara Yngvesson is a professor of anthropology, dean of the school of social science and director of the Foundation for Psychocultural Research Program in Culture, Brain, and Development at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. Her expertise is on law and community. In the last 10 years she has used National Science Foundation grants to study the transnational market in children, especially on the flow of adoptable children from Asia and Latin America to Sweden and the United States. Recently, she’s researched adult adoptee experiences of identity and belonging in transracial/transnational adoptions and is interested in the implications for theories of identity in anthropology and psychology. Contact 413-559-5578,
  • Elizabeth Samuels teaches family and adoption law at the University of Baltimore School of Law. Contact 410-837-4534,



The U.S. Children’s Bureau was a federal investigative agency created by Congress in 1912, as an outgrowth of national campaigns to reduce infant mortality and child labor and of baby-farming and black-market adoption scandals. It advocated standards in placement and state adoption laws, and it held the first conferences on child welfare. Today the organization is a bureau of the Administration for Children & Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is responsible for administering federal child welfare programs. See a map of the organizational structure on the bureau’s Web site. 


  • The Child Welfare League of America in Arlington, Va., is a federation of some 800 member agencies and a leader in the national child welfare movement, beginning with efforts to abolish orphanages in the 1920s and ’30s. Its National Center for Research and Data works to document and coordinate research around the country, and it maintains an online database of statistics and other information on child welfare, adoption and foster care that is available to courts and state, local and tribal agencies. Included at the organization’s National Data Analysis System site are links to state statutes, lists of child-welfare agencies in each state and the ability to download and analyze data on a state-by-state basis. See a list of CWLA-sponsored training conferences for agency professionals in 2007 and other related events in the field. The organization also is a center for information about cultural and racial diversity, including efforts to address the disproportionate number of minority children in the child welfare system. The CWLA’s Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education (PRIDE) program finds and supports foster and adoptive families.
  • The National Council for Adoption supports research, education and adoption advocacy.
  • The American Adoption Congress aims to be an umbrella organization for adoption reform.
  • Pact is a national nonprofit that provides education and adoption service to children of color, their birth parents and their adoptive parents.
  • Ethica, a nonprofit based in Silver Spring, Md., works for ethical adoption practices internationally, providing education, assistance and advocacy.
  • Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute works to improve information about adoption and offer guidance for developing policies and practices.
  • Bastard Nation is known for militant advocacy of adoptees’ right to information about legal and genetic background as a civil right.
  • Concerned United Birthparents, based in Encinitas, Calif., began 31 years ago as a support group for birth parents and other birth family members. The group promotes open adoption records and family searches, proposes that most adoptions can and should be prevented, and helps some families keep their children when they’re considering adoption because of financial stress.
  • The American Academy of Adoption Attorneys includes 330 lawyers who specialize in adoption law.


  • One Church, One Child is an education and recruitment program that began in Chicago and works with religious communities to recruit black adoptive and foster families for black adoptees and works with state agencies to facilitate adoption applications. Read about the model at the Harvard Innovations Awards Web site. Many states – including Illinois, Oklahoma, Washington, New York, Maryland, Texas, Virginia and Florida -- have versions of the program, some of which are run through state agencies. Ujima Community Services, an umbrella organization for black family services, lists some state programs at its site.
  • Bethany Christian Services has one of the largest national adoption and foster care agencies.
  • The Association of Jewish Family & Children’s Agencies is an umbrella for 145 Jewish family and child welfare organizations in the U.S. and Canada and includes adoption services. Find local Jewish family service agencies or locate local Jewish agencies with adoption services.
  • It’s About Love is the LDS Family Services’ adoption services agency within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Find local agencies.
  • Faith Communities for Families and Children is a coalition of some 50 religious groups and congregations, including Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Catholic, Protestant and Mormon, that works in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and the Youth Law Center to find families to adopt or foster children within their own religion or at least in their neighborhoods.
  • The General Baptist State Convention, North Carolina, works with the state’s Division of Social Services to recruit African-American singles and couples to be adoptive and/or foster parents. The program’s Adoptive and Foster Care Ministry attends conferences, workshops and Sunday services at churches to elicit interest. The Ministry’s staff works with volunteer project coordinators in each of more than 100 congregations that are participating. It also cooperates with other faith communities, the North Carolina NAACP and the North Carolina Association of Black Social Workers to promote the initiative.

Laws and legal resources



  • Find state-by-state updates and summaries of state adoption laws governing birth record access at the American Adoption Congress Web site’s legislation page.
  • Search for state statutes on adoption at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Child Welfare Information Gateway. The site’s National Adoption Directory can be searched by state for agencies, organizations and support groups.
  • FindLaw’s state-by-state list of laws governing adoption includes state statutes, open adoptions and international adoptions.
  • The National Council for Adoption’s state-by-state searchable directory of member organizations links primarily to conservative Christian agencies.
  • Cornell Law School’s site lists statutes governing adoption by state.
  • Lambda Legal Defense Fund, the gay and lesbian rights organization, has a state-by-state overview of adoption laws. Lambda Legal also lists court cases affecting gay adoption rights and custody issues at Lambda Legal Defense Fund’s site (under “Docket”).
  • The Liberty Council, a conservative religious organization, has a state-by-state .PDF chart outlining same-sex adoption laws.
  • Birth records can be accessed by adult adoptees in Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Kansas, New Hampshire, Oregon and Tennessee.
  • Open records: One powerful discussion about adoption is the conversation between adoption organizations that urge sealing adoption records in the interests of birth-parent privacy and those advocates – including many adoptees and some birth-family members – of opening sealed court records and “open” adoption, in which records never are sealed. In 1998, Oregon voters passed the nation’s first open-records law that allows adoptees who are 21 or older access to their birth certificates. Find sources on the topic and read an article about the history of adoption confidentiality at the University of Oregon’s Adoption History Project. Read “ In adoptions, anonymity is still the policy,” a June 7, 2007, article in the New Jersey Herald News at
  • Read about adoption legal issues at Capital University Law School’s National Center for Adoption Law & Policy (formerly the Dave Thomas Center for Adoption Law). The site allows a state-by-state search for court cases, case summaries, statutes and statute summaries, articles and regulations (look under “search” on the far right column.)
  • FindLaw’s adoption center covers legal issues pertaining to adoption, including a glossary of adoption terms and resources.



  • The Census Bureau estimates that 1.6 million children in the United States – more than 2 percent of all American kids – are adopted. Read the bureau’s first-ever profile on these children.
  • In 2006, according to the organizers of the conference “Adoption: The Spiritual Journey for the Human Family,” there were 16 million adoptive parents and 16 million birth parents in the United States.
  • The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute posts a page with statistics about adoption. In the last 30 years, about a quarter-million children – most of them infants and most from Asia – have been adopted from other countries where war, poverty, social upheaval and (in China) family planning rules contributed to an increase in orphans. Most international adoptions are of Chinese girls. In 2000 (the latest numbers), 556,000 children were in foster care; 24 percent – 134,000 – were waiting for families to adopt them.
  • The Child Welfare Information Gateway (formerly the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse and the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information) has data on adoption. Under “resources” on the bottom left side of the page, choose “statistics” and “library search.”


  • The Adoption History Project at the University of Oregon includes information about adoption history (including a timeline), people and organizations and a page on adoption studies/adoption science, which delineates and links to four types of research on adoption: field studies, outcome studies, nature-nurture studies and psychopathology studies. The site’s article on Concerned United Birthparents provides a history of attitudes toward adoption in 20th-century America. The site’s Topics in Adoption History is an overview of the issues – from orphan trains to African-American adoptions – that adoption touches.
  • Faith-based adoptive/foster services: Faith communities’ roles in child welfare,” by the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California.
  • Working Together to Strengthen Supports for Indian Children and Families: A National Perspective” was the keynote speech by Shay Bilchik, then-president and CEO of the Child Welfare League of America, at the 2001 National Indian Child Welfare Association conference. The speech is a candid apology for his agency’s history of “paternalistic” treatment of Indian families and recounts the history of government removal of native children for adoption to white families and the 1978 creation of the Indian Child Welfare Act.
  • Orphan Train Genealogy” is a January/February 1995 article from Ancestry Magazine, written by Marilyn Holt and reprinted at It recounts the social welfare programs, from 1853 to 1929, responsible for removing 200,000 immigrant children, most of whom were taken from poor, incarcerated or institutionalized parents from Eastern cities and “placed out” (adopted or indentured) into rural communities where they were displayed and selected by families and employers.
  • Read a history of one agency that focuses on the development of the open adoption movement in California. It is posted at (part of the University of Oregon’s Adoption History Project) and written by Bruce Rappaport, founder of the Independent Adoption Center, an agency operating in California, North Carolina, Georgia and Indiana.


  • map of state adoption laws as they relate to gays and lesbians.
  • Read a May 22, 2007, article, “Settlement frees up Adoption Profiles to continue helping families,” at the Alliance Defense Fund site. ADF attorneys represented Adoption Profiles (owned by Adoption Media, which also owns in a recently settled suit. The company hosts profiles of prospective adoptive parents. It had rejected a profile by two gay men who wanted to adopt.
  • Defining Family,” an article in the September-October 2006 issue of Children’s Voice, the magazine of the Child Welfare League of America, describes issues and considerations for agencies regarding gay adoption.
  • Read “Why Courts Are Adopting Gay Parenting,” an opinion piece published March 12, 2006, in the Washington Post.
  • After getting marriage amendments passed in 11 states in 2004, social conservatives are now targeting issues of family composition, says a Feb. 20, 2006, article in USA Today, “Drives to ban gay adoption heat up in 16 states.”
  • The Evan B. Donaldson Institute’s 2003 study of 307 agencies around the country found that, in 1999-2000, 60 percent accepted applications from gays and lesbians. Some 40 percent said they placed children with gay or lesbian parents; however, most didn’t keep statistics on clients’ sexual orientation. Eighty-four percent said they did not recruit gays and lesbians as parents.
  • In March 2006, Catholic Charities of Boston, which had allowed a few gay couples to adopt, ended all of its adoption services after The Boston Globe pointed out the discrepancy between church policy on gay adoptions and agency practice. State law forbids discriminating against gays and lesbians. In July the Vatican underscored church policy by issuing a document urging Catholic and non-Catholic politicians to oppose laws giving rights to gays, including adoption. Each local Catholic Charities adoption program is governed by local archdioceses and dioceses, and other branches throughout the country are facing similar questions. In August 2006, San Francisco’s Catholic Charities began a partnership with a statewide adoption exchange and the state Department of Social Services that will allow children to be adopted by gay couples without Catholic Charities doing the direct placement.



  • The Dovetail Institute for Interfaith Family Resources in Boston, Ky., helps families deal with interfaith adoption. Contact 800-530-1596.
  • Read “When the Interfaith Couple Considers Adoption,” an article at, a site for interfaith families exploring Jewish life. Here are more of the site’s articles on interfaith adoption.
  • Read an agnostic adoptive father’s objections to adoption agencies’ screening by religion at Rogier van Bakel’s blog, Nobody’s Business.
  • Ruth Nemzoff is a resident scholar at Brandeis University’s Women’s Studies Research Center. She was formerly New Hampshire’s deputy commissioner of health and welfare. She also is an adjunct assistant professor in the international studies department at Bentley College in Waltham, Mass. Her primary expertise regards intermarriage in the conservative Jewish movement, and she can discuss adoption and the Jewish community. She is an adoptive grandmother. Contact 781-891-2623 (office – checked only during the academic terms),



  • In connection with the effort to discourage stem cell research, some Christians are promoting the adoption (and gestation and birth) of unused frozen embryos created through infertility treatments. Donation to stem cell research is one way of disposing of the “extra” embryos.
  • Read a March 20, 2007, Associated Press article, “Hospital to Help with Embryo Adoption,” at the Christian Broadcasting Network site.
  • Read a summary of a Nov. 29, 2006, Washington Times article, “Embryo Adoption on Increase,” at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life site.


  • National Adoption Day this year will be Nov. 17.
  • Find an adoption conference from this list of gatherings across the country at the site. (Click on Conference Calendar in the left-hand rail.)
  • The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s site has a section on adoption.
  • The Casey Journalism Center includes sources and resources on adoption.
  • Search the W.K. Kellogg Foundation site for resources on adoption.
  •  An article in the “Encyclopedia of Adoption” at gives a sense of how adoption agencies work. Some articles in the encyclopedia are more authoritative than others.
  • A May 2, 2007, Associated Press article, “Evangelicals Start Adoption Push,” at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life site, says Focus on the Family and author Rick Warren are urging churchgoers to take up adoption and foster care, partly in response to criticism that evangelicals condemn abortion and same-sex adoption without providing enough help for kids who need homes.
  • The Presbyterians Pro-Life site lists six “Biblical Foundations for Adoption” with scriptural references.
  • is devoted to adoption topics.
  • Adoptive Families magazine site has an adoption information center and directory of agencies.
  • Adoption Today magazine posts its current issue online.

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