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Jessica Bates holds a photograph of her late husband David and herself. (Photo credit: Alliance Defending Freedom)

Christian Mom Banned from Adopting Because She Says 'Boys and Girls Are Biologically Different'

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A widowed mother of five children in Oregon, who wants to adopt a pair of siblings under the age of 10 from foster care has appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco, California, after a lower court ruled against her last year.

Oregon's Department of Human Services categorically excluded Jessica Bates from adopting any child—no matter their age or beliefs—because she would not violate her religious beliefs and promote Oregon's radical gender ideology.

Represented by attorneys with the non-profit Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), Bates has filed her opening brief with the 9th Circuit Court. Her attorneys asked the appeals court to allow her to obtain her certification, free of discrimination, while her lawsuit continues so that she can eventually provide a loving home to children in need.

"Jessica wants to open her home to children in need right now, but Oregon officials are placing a dangerous ideological agenda above kids' best interests," ADF Legal Counsel Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse said in a statement. "Jessica is a loving mother who feels called to adopt siblings from foster care. Oregon is categorically excluding her merely because she shares a view held by millions of Americans: that boys and girls are biologically different. Jessica believes children should cherish that difference, not reject it."

"Because Jessica will not promote Oregon's radical gender ideology to young kids, the state considers her and many others to be 'unfit' parents, depriving countless children in Oregon's system of opportunities to be raised in a loving home," Widmalm-Delphonse added. "We are urging the 9th Circuit to allow Jessica to continue her adoption journey and provide a loving home to children in need."

As the opening brief in Bates v. Pakseresht explains, "Oregon {cannot} justify excluding as prospective parents the hundreds of thousands of Oregonians who share Bates' religious views about human sexuality... Including people like Bates maximizes the number of families available to adopt children in need and increases the odds every child eventually finds a loving home."

Bates argues that "Oregon's categorical exclusion uses a sledgehammer when the First Amendment demands a scalpel," pointing out that "the federal government and most other states avoid categorical exclusions and match specific children with compatible families...This policy achieves nothing but serves only to violate the First Amendment and harm kids in need of homes." 

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slider img 2Denied Because She Wouldn't Accept Oregon's Pro-LGBT Views on Sexuality

As CBN News reported in April of 2023, Bates, a devout Christian, was widowed after her husband David died in a car crash in 2017. Even though she's busy raising five children, ages 10 to 18 on her own, she wants to open her home to children in need.

Inspired by the story of a man who adopted a child from foster care, Bates felt a calling to follow the biblical teaching to care for orphans. 

She applied to adopt a sibling pair, who are generally harder to place. But the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS ) denied her application because in order to adopt children and give them a loving home, she would first be required to endorse the state's pro-LGBT views on sexuality.

The ODHS requires that people seeking to adopt must "respect, accept, and support" the sexual orientation and/or gender identity of any child whom ODHS could place in the applicant's home.

She told Fox News during an interview she was several months into the adoption process and had successfully completed a portion of the training when the state told her she had to support its guidance. 

"{I} reported to my certifier because they really emphasized the sexual orientation and gender identity training, that you have to support it," Bates said. "I emailed her and told her I couldn't do that because of my faith, and then we had a phone call and, because I wouldn't take a child for cross-sex hormone injections, I was basically told that I'm ineligible to adopt in the state of Oregon."

The denial of her application makes her ineligible to adopt any child—even infants or children who share her religious beliefs. ADF attorneys contend that ODHS's policy needlessly penalizes Bates and many other people of faith for their religious views, compels parents to speak words that violate their conscience, and deprives children in need of the opportunity to find loving homes.

Rebekah Schultheiss, one of nearly 5,000 attorneys in the ADF Attorney Network, is serving as local counsel on behalf of Bates.

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of