By Kelly Quintana
Illustration by Kire Torres

The first amendment is all about freedom. Freedom of speech, assembly, press, petition, and of course, freedom of religion. Freedom of religion is a close second to freedom of speech on how much it comes up in conversations, up there with the second amendment, but that is another article. On Feb. 23 Senate Bill 375, also known as the Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act passed through the senate in Georgia, a bill that supporters claim is to protect the religious freedom of adoption agencies.

Long story short, Bill 375 gives religious agencies the freedom to prevent someone from adopting due to their own personal bias. They want to ensure that religious agencies can participate in the adoption process and to help children get adopted, at least that is what they say. Currently though, there is no one stopping religious organizations from being active in the adoption process. There is no law that says a religious organization cannot have an adoption agency. Private adoption agencies are free to turn away whoever they please. Bill 375 is permitting public organizations to discriminate.

This bill is not about religious freedom, nor is it about the children in foster care. If it were about the children, they would be focusing on the issues surrounding privatized homes or the foster care to prison pipe line, not on turning away a parent because of religious differences. It should not matter that a parent has a different religious belief than you if it means that a child gets a loving home. According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, there are currently more than 415,000 children in the foster system waiting to be adopted. But there are not enough parents coming to adopt. This bill is turning away people wanting to give a child a loving home when the foster care system is in need of parents.

The Keeping the Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act is masquerading as something that it is not. What this bill truly is, is a direct attack on LGBTQ+ parents and a danger to LGBTQ+ children in the system. Being in the system is enough of a struggle without adding in the fact that you do not conform to social norms of sexuality and gender identity. Not only would this bill allow publicly funded agencies to turn away LGBTQ+ parents but children as well. They could do this all under the mask of religious freedom without calling it what it is: discrimination.

Children who struggle with their sexual and gender identity in the system face another level of hardship because of the instability of their situation, not to mention if they are placed in a home that does not agree with their “religious” beliefs, it can be detrimental and scarring for the child. Adding in a home environment that is hateful and ignorant on top of the pain that comes with being in the system does not help the child. There is no benefit to turning away someone willing to love and care for a child because you disagree with their god, their sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBTQ+ children are twice as likely to end up in the foster system because of their unaccepting families. They are also more likely to face uprooting from home to home while in the system.

If the state of Georgia really wants to help children in the foster system, it should not be making it harder to adopt. Georgia should focus on creating a safer environment for children in the system that will be there until they are 18 because of the lack of people adopting. They state official should focus on ensuring stability for the kids who ultimate end up aging out to prevent the high percentage of children who end up homeless after leaving the system. Basically, there are a lot of issues surrounding the adoption and foster care system. They want the children to keep faith? Then they should work on fixing those issues. Not on “protecting” religious freedom when no one’s religious freedom is under attack. What is now under attack are people who need a home and people who want to give that child a home. The Keeping the Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act is a cruel and useless bill that does nothing to address the true problems with the Foster Care system.