The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York issued an order Sept. 6 permanently preventing the state of New York from shutting down a faith-based adoption provider because of its religious beliefs.
Based on those beliefs, New Hope Family Services places children in homes with a married mother and father. If unmarried or same-sex applicants contact New Hope in seeking to adopt a child, the agency informs them that it cannot provide them with adoption services due to its religious beliefs, and it offers to refer them to other agencies.
The state’s Office of Children and Family Services targeted New Hope in 2018, informing the adoption agency that it had 15 days to revise its policies or face revocation of its authorization to provide adoption services.
In response, New Hope, represented by the law firm Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), sued the Office of Children and Family Services. In October 2020, the district court issued a temporary order prohibiting the state from closing down New Hope while the case progressed. This latest order makes that prohibition permanent, finding that the state’s actions violated New Hope’s First Amendment rights.
“The court’s decision is great news for children waiting to be adopted and for the parents partnering with New Hope Family Services to provide loving, stable homes,” said ADF Senior Counsel Roger Brooks. “New Hope is a private religious ministry that doesn’t take a dime from the government. Shutting down an adoption provider for its religious beliefs … benefits no one—certainly not children. New Hope’s faith-guided services don’t coerce anyone and do nothing to interfere with other adoption providers who have different beliefs about family and the best interests of children.”
Kathy Jerman, executive director of New Hope Family Services, added: “Every child deserves a home with a loving mother and father who are committed to each other. New Hope is an ‘arm-around-the-shoulder’ ministry that walks with adoptive families and birth parents alike to place children with adoptive families. … We’re grateful that the court’s decision allows us to keep serving children and families.”