Tough times for Catholic adoption agencies Tony and Anna Ashford talk about their newly adopted son, Christian, at their home in Chesterton, Ind., Sept. 23, 2009. The Ashfords adopted Christian through Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Gary. CNS photo/Tim Hunt, Northwest Indiana Catholic The changing legal definition of marriage has roiled American culture from courthouse to altar, expanding civil rights for some but challenging the religious rights of others, particularly the Catholic Church and its myriad social service ministries.

Adoption services that have, for 100 years or more, provided children with good, safe and traditional homes with a male husband and female wife are facing a take-it-or-leave-it scenario in the new legal landscape: Accept the sweeping social change in the most elemental compact in the history of mankind — the nuclear family formed by the marriage of one man to one woman — and abandon 2,000 years of dogma by continuing to find children homes through adoption services, including same-sex couples; or close up shop.

The necessity of accepting one of two equally objectionable choices confronts dioceses and Catholic Charities in 17 states from Minnesota to New Mexico and Massachusetts to California.

Shutting down

The collision of constitutional rights poses irreconcilable demands. When religious organizations work for the common good — the welfare of children — and accept taxpayer money from state and local governments, the attached obligation is to treat all comers equally. For Catholic organizations to comply is to violate Church doctrine.

“In the name of tolerance, we’re not being tolerated,” Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Ill., told the New York Times when Illinois dioceses stopped adoption services rather than comply.

Similarly, the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., ended an 80-year “legacy of high quality service to the vulnerable in our nation’s capital” when the city informed Catholic Charities in 2009 that “the agency could no longer serve as a provider of foster care and public adoption services as a result of the D.C. same-sex marriage law,” said Sheridan Watson, communications manager for the Office of Media and Public Relations at the archdiocese.

“This is because under the new law, in order to have a contract with D.C. to provide such services, providers were required to certify the marital status of adoptive and foster care families and to place children with same-sex married couples, which would violate the tenets of the Catholic Faith.”

The secular change in the definition of marriage and its civil consequences has not deterred the archdiocese in its mission to help the needy, Watson said.

“Catholic Charities … (has) been unwavering in its commitment to serve those in need and is the largest private social service provider in the Washington metropolitan area,” Watson said.

The Archdiocese of Boston got out of the adoption business in 2006 after the Vatican affirmed that Catholic adoption agencies could not arrange adoptions to same-sex couples in response to the news that the diocese had brokered adoptions to 13 gay couple in the previous two years. Adoption services by Catholic agencies and dioceses may have ended elsewhere in many of the 17 states that now recognize same-sex marriage, but the work of the Church continues even in some of those states.

Changing landscape

The Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, which is located south of the Boston archdiocese, is home to more than 300,000 Catholics and has a total population of more than 800,000.

The diocese has soldiered on, with its Office of Catholic Social Services handling adoptions for the neighboring Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, where same-sex marriage was adopted in 2013.

“It hasn’t come up for us,” said Phyllis Habib, adoption coordinator for the Fall River agency. “I think just by the name of our agency, same-sex couples do not approach us. We have couples who are not Catholic who apply for adoptions, and, as with any application, we conduct home studies and seek doctors’ certifications as is required by law in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.”

The adoption business has shifted from Catholic agencies, which…” READ MORE HERE