An Australian court has rejected an attempt by a set of Catholic birth parents to stop a same-gender couple from adopting their daughter.
New South Wale’s Supreme Court ruled the girl, known as “CJD” in court documents, could be adopted by the two lesbian women who have raised her since she was six months old, and could take on their surname.
CJD’s birth parents had objected to the adoption on religious grounds, explained The Sydney Morning Herald:
“[T]he birth mother opposed the adoption because the foster parents would not commit to raising the child as a Catholic.
“The NSW Supreme Court heard the birth mother was ‘a practising Catholic and she is not comfortable with the placement of CJD with the proposed adoptive parents because of her upbringing and religious values’.
“The lesbian couple, who are both university educated, have been in a stable and loving relationship for almost a decade. However, they told the court they couldn’t raise CJD as a Catholic given the religion’s longstanding opposition to homosexual relationships.”
Barnardos, the adoption agency, said that because the couple “would not be able to facilitate her involvement and development with Catholicism due to their sexual orientation,” it was best not to baptize the child.
Social services removed CJD from her mother’s care because the mother was convicted of manslaughter in the death of another child and because of her substance abuse issues. The father, who also sought custody, wanted CJD raised Catholic as well.
But custody by either birth parent was not in the girl’s best interests, according to Justice John Sackar, who said:
“‘Religion of course is only one of a multitude of factors the court is to consider in determining CJD’s best interests. . .While the birth parents’ religious beliefs must be respected, the proposed adoptive parents’ attitude to the Catholic faith requires equal respect.'”
Though CJD will not be raised Catholic, the adoptive parents have said they will keep her in contact with her birth parents, and expose her to Christian faith in other ways, ultimately supporting any future religious beliefs she may develop.
Adoptions are an increasing point of controversy for LGBT equality. Catholics have frequently been involved as adoptive parents, as birth parents, as social service providers, as church communities in these cases. In some instances, this involvement has been positive. But in other instances, Catholic involvement has only exacerbated the complexity and pain of such situations. Yesterday, Bondings 2.0 reported on the U.S. bishops’ support for legislation that would allow social service agencies to discriminate against LGBT adoptive parents.
In complex and painful cases involving children, Catholics should be prioritizing a child’s well-being. A safe and loving home regardless of the parents’ gender and/or sexual identities should take precedent over all other considerations; for Catholics, this is the option most faithful to our tradition.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, April 18, 2017