Oregon does not allow Christians to adopt children, apparently, but Jessica Bates is doing something about it.
Bates, a Christian ultrasound technician and widowed mother of five, recently filed a lawsuit against the Oregon Department of Human Services to end this unjust and discriminatory practice.
Bates said she was inspired to adopt after hearing a story on a Christian radio program of another single parent who adopted a child. Bates, whose husband died tragically in a car accident in 2017, has five children, ages 10 to 17. After hearing that radio program, Bates said she felt God was asking her to do what her Christian faith teaches: to help “orphans and widows in their affliction.”
In March 2022, Bates began the adoption process through the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS), hoping to adopt a sibling group who were nine years old or younger (so they would be younger than her youngest child). When she began the process, she was unaware of a DHS rule that would require her to say she would “respect…and support” a hypothetical child’s “sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.”
During her application and training process, she realized her faith would not allow her to meet some of the state’s expectations, like “celebrating diversity in all forms,” providing media, and allowing signage in her home that supports same-sex relationships and affirms lifestyles she considers sinful.
Bates expressed her concerns to the DHS. She was asked by the DHS if she would be willing to take a child to receive hormone therapy in the context of a gender “transition.” She said no and called it what it was: child abuse.
Shortly after that, her application to adopt was denied because she didn’t meet the DHS’ “adoption home standards.”
Bates’ Christian faith is the source of her beliefs about sex and gender, the lawsuit explains:
Like countless people of faith, Jessica believes that our biological sex carries spiritual significance for who we are and how we should act. Jessica cannot affirm that a male is or should try to be female or vice versa….Jessica alerted the Department that she will gladly love and accept any child for who they are, but she cannot say or do anything against her Christian faith. The state then put Jessica to a choice: abandon your religious convictions or forgo the possibility of ever adopting any child. When Jessica stood her ground, the Department rejected her application….
Bates’ lawsuit alleges that the rules promulgated by Oregon’s DHS violate her rights to free speech, free association, and to the free exercise of her faith protected by the First Amendment.
A DHS rule requires her to say she will take a child suffering from gender dysphoria to “pride” parades and other functions that promote things Bates’ Christian faith calls immoral. She would also have to agree to use alternate pronouns and other “queer” language (new “genders” are invented every day, and often include profanities, like “genderf*ck”), and to procure mutilating, often irreversible medical procedures euphemistically called “gender-affirming care” if the child demanded them.
The lawsuit also alleges the DHS rule violates Bates’ right to equal protection under the law guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment because it “treats Jessica worse than similarly situated persons who do not share her religious beliefs.”
Her lawyers argue in the suit filed in early April that DHS selectively “excludes entire religious communities from participating in child welfare programs because of their religious views.”
“Jessica need not check her religion at the door to show she is fit to love children in need,” the suit states. “All she asks for is the chance to serve others and to access the state’s programs on an equal playing field as everyone else. That is something the Constitution demands.”
Kelly Howard is an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Bates.
According to Howard, under the DHS rule, Bates is not even qualified to adopt a Christian child in Oregon because Bates will not say she will deny her religious convictions in the future if the child displays gender dysphoria later.
“It doesn’t make any sense at all,” says Howard. “Jessica Bates is a model parent by any standard. There are hundreds of children in need of adoption in Oregon right now. But the state is choosing to put its ideology ahead of the needs of children in immediate need.”
Additional ideologically motivated anti-child, anti-family legislation is currently pending before the Oregon legislature. HB 2002 would allow children, without parental consent, to undergo abortions, obtain contraceptives, be sterilized, or mutilate their bodies under the guise of “gender-affirming care,” among other things.