OPINION

LaFontaine: Protect faith-based agencies on adoption

State Rep. Andrea LaFontaine

Public-private partnerships provide a number of great benefits to Michigan residents, including saving taxpayer dollars and offering quality job opportunities and services to Michiganians. The current public-private partnership with adoption agencies is no different.

Private child-placing agencies play an important role in finding permanent homes for Michigan's most vulnerable children.

Michigan demonstrates remarkable success with an 80-percent adoption placement rate, and this is a direct result of the strong partnership that Michigan's Department of Human Services has with the more than 60 public and private adoption agencies.

Among those agencies, 17 are faith-based organizations.

It is necessary that we seek ways to protect this unique partnership, and maintain the current diversity of agencies that we have today. When it comes to children, we know there is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and putting into law our current adoptive practice will not only benefit kids today, but also Michigan children in years to come.

The proposed legislation, House Bills 4188-4190, provides faith-based agencies with legal protection for exercising their religious beliefs. In states where these religious protections do not exist, faith-based agencies such as Catholic Social Services have had to close their doors to the most needy populations: adoptive and foster children.

Michigan should not force anyone into a position of choosing between their faith and helping children. If any of the agencies are forced to close, it would ultimately result in fewer child placing agencies, fewer child placements and longer waiting times due to a lack of services.

Enacting this legislation will have no financial impact on the state because everything required by these bills is already in practice.

Public-private adoption and foster care partnerships thrive in Michigan and work together to make homes whole. These partnerships are proactive in taking successful, efficient and effective measures for the benefit of children throughout Michigan. Let's preempt the expensive legal battles and the loss of valuable services from caring people by protecting religious liberties in Michigan.

State Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, R-Columbus Twp., represents the 32nd District.