SAN FRANCISCO — Catholic Charities of San Francisco announced Aug. 2 that it would no longer provide full adoption services. Instead, their adoptions will be handled by an organization known for placing children in homosexual households.
Dawn Stefanowicz, a Canadian woman who grew up with a homosexual father, fears their new approach will backfire.
“Why do children need to be adopted by a male and female couple? Because kids need a sense of security,” she said. “These kids have already been abandoned. They’ve been through psychological trauma. They need a male and female couple to be there long-term. You can’t guarantee that kind of stability from gay parents.”
In a document issued before he was elected Pope, “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons,” then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote, “Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in [homosexual] unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development.”
Boston’s Catholic Charities abandoned its adoption efforts after complaints that it was placing children with homosexual couples. San Francisco’s Archbishop George Niederauer decided to take another approach.
“When we saw the public discussion in Boston, we decided to have a study group that would determine how we could serve the adoption community — both parents and children. We knew we couldn’t be involved in home studies or specific child matching,” he said.
The study group did not want fewer children to be adopted as a result of Catholic Charities leaving the adoption field. So they looked into how they could help more foster children find families.
“California Kids Connections is a website where agencies and the state post pictures of children who need homes,” said Archbishop Niederauer. Prospective parents are then free to browse the website. “The problem was that they get so many inquiries that they can only post a certain number of pictures at a time.”
In fact, because of limited staffing, California Kids Connection had to limit the number of children they could work with. In light of this situation, Catholic Charities decided to move part of its staff to work within the offices dedicated to California Kids Connection, which is provided by Oakland-based Family Builders by Adoption.
The Archdiocese of San Francisco has also decided it will undertake an intensive program within parishes whereby pastors will raise awareness of the need for foster care and adoption. Parishes will be encouraged to have special evenings at which specialists speak to parishioners.
“This will more than double the size of our program,” said Jill Jacobs, executive director of Family Builders by Adoption. “Last year we had 218 kids placed through the program. We field calls on behalf of the county. Now we’ll have the staff to be able to take all the phone calls.”
Jacobs is a member of the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendered National Advisory Network and an activist for homosexual adoption.
In her article, “Laying the Foundation to Welcome Gay and Lesbian Families,” (available at www.NCAC.org — or find it by “googling” “Jill Jacobs” AND lesbian) Jacobs describes various strategies for increasing the number of children placed in homosexual homes.
Catholic Charities CYO executive director Brian Cahill said in a press release, “It is a privilege to be working with Jill Jacobs and the Family Builders Team. They are a highly respected, quality organization, and this exciting new partnership allows us to greatly expand and leverage our resources within the current child welfare system.”
Stefanowicz thinks that plan is tragic. She said she and others who grew up in homosexual homes know how painful the experience can be.
“It’s due to the fact that these kinds of parents are involved with many different partners,” she said. “Some parents were transvestites. Very few of us will go public because of the trauma we went through.”
She said that the decision to allow homosexual adoptions will put children in peril.
“I know people are trying to be politically correct, but they are not looking at the rights of children,” she said. “Kids want to see the equality between male and female. They want to see how they interact. My father could not provide affection to me, only to other men. I grew up feeling worthless as a woman.”
She added that homosexual parenting “doesn’t work in the long term for kids because there is no representation of the equality between men and women. Your conscience is shut down. You can’t criticize your parent or their partner. If you do, they go berserk. You know if you tell authorities, you will either end up in a group home or in the streets.”
Archbishop Niederauer said that Catholic Charities staffers will not be agents of Family Builders by Adoption. They will only field phone calls.
“We won’t refer to Family Builders by Adoption,” he said. “We will refer to local agencies. We won’t be causing the direct adoption of a child to an inappropriate home.”
A few larger issues remain: How is it possible to know if a Catholic Charities staffer refers same-sex couples to an adoption agency? Should the Church be forced out of areas where she has traditionally served the nation?
“I think Boston did the right thing” by getting out of adoption entirely, said Msgr. William Smith, a moral theologian at St. Joseph’s Seminary in the Archdiocese of New York. “But it’s intolerable. We’ve been involved in adoptions in this country for over 100 years. The same thing will happen to the Catholic Church in healthcare. Groups like Planned Parenthood want to get us out of healthcare. We shouldn’t go without a fight. But I wouldn’t want to see us partnering up with groups giving out the morning-after pill.”
About Catholic Charities in San Francisco, Msgr. Smith felt it was not clear if they were involved in any wrongdoing by partnering with a group whose parent is involved in adoptions to homosexuals.
“It could cause scandal,” he said. “Where institutions are concerned, if you can’t run a Catholic institution according to Catholic principle, you should step aside.”
Smith also questioned the wisdom of the new arrangement. “It does not really solve the problem. How could you verify that gay couples are not being served?”
Sabrina Arena Ferrisi is based
in Mamaroneck, New York.
- August 13-19, 2006