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State legislators discuss and revise faith-based adoption bill

The state of Michigan is currently considering different bills that if passed would impact adoption within the state. The three pieces of legislation would enable a faith-based adoption agency to chose an adoptive family based on religious preferences.

The bills are in front of the House Families, Children and Senior Committee. As it now stands, these faith-based agencies can object to adoption placements but only according to informal policies. If the proposed legislation is passed it would make the faith-based exception formal state law.

Last week, the legislation garnered some concern and criticism. The fear was that a religious preference would create a slippery slope and open the door to objections based on lesser issues like a divorced parents or even left-handedness.

The Committee substituted certain concerning language to ensure that the focus was on sincerely held religious convictions and not just superficial or fleeting opinions. The revised language also created a timeline for when an objection could be made. The bills would require the faith-based agency to object before the end of the assessment of the adoptive family. After the close of the assessment, an objection would be considered in light of the child’s best interest.

The objecting agency would also have to help the family find another adoption agency or put them in touch with the state agency to assist in the adoption process. The Committee voted to formally adopt the substitute bills. Further testimony is expected on the issue before the final vote.

It is encouraging that state legislators are taking such care in drafting this legislation to ensure that it not only protects the rights of adoption agencies and religious rights but that the interests of the adoptive children are at the forefront. While legislators figure out the details, Detroit family law attorneys can assist families during the placement adoption process to ensure a successful, happy and health transition into a new family.

Source: mLive, “Change to Michigan adoption bills clarifies religious exception to placing a child,” Brian Smith, Sept. 18, 2013