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State Denies Mom of 5 the Right to Adopt Due to Her Religious Beliefs: 'Politics Above People'

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A widowed Oregon mother of five claims the state denied her application to adopt a pair of siblings because of her religious beliefs.

Attorneys for Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit against the state on April 4 on behalf of Jessica Bates. 

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 17 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 adopt 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 who ODHS could place in the applicant's home.

The guidance obligates parents to agree to use a child's preferred pronouns, take a child to Pride parades, or facilitate an adolescent's access to medical interventions like puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. 

During her application process, Bates alerted the ODHS that she will happily love and accept any child, but she cannot say or do something that goes against her Christian faith. 

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."

According to the ADF, ODHS's policy penalizes Bates for her religious views, compels her to speak words that violate her beliefs, and deprives her of equal protection of the law because of her faith.
"Oregon's policy makes a sweeping claim that all persons who hold certain religious beliefs—beliefs held by millions of Americans from diverse religious faiths—are categorically unfit to care for children," said ADF Legal Counsel Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse. "That's simply not true. Oregon is putting its political agenda above the needs of countless children who would be happy to grow up in a loving, Christian home like Jessica's."

"We urge the court to remind the state of its constitutional and moral obligations and reaffirm Jessica's First Amendment right to live out her faith without being penalized by the government," Widmalm-Delphonse added. 

"Oregon's policy amounts to an ideological litmus test. Those with 'correct' views on sexual ethics may adopt; those with religious views may not," the 41-page complaint said. 

"Last year alone nearly 8,000 children touched Oregon's foster care system. Hundreds of them are waiting for their forever homes, and many of them may share Jessica's beliefs. But Oregon refuses to let Jessica even be considered for adopting these children because it thinks her religious beliefs make her unfit to be a parent. That means there's one less home for these children—all because officials are putting politics above people," the complaint continues. "Oregon's policy violates the Constitution."

ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit, Bates v. Pakseresht, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Pendleton Division.

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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