My husband and I are both atheists and we wish to adopt a child. We are just starting to look into the adoption process but at first glance it looks like many of the agencies are somewhat religious organizations. We are afraid to be at a disadvantage because we cannot provide religious references for example. We were wondering if anyone could recommend a good adoption agency which would be open to people of all faiths (or lack of faith, for the matter!). Thanks!
I did a second parent adoption as an out lesbian and atheist, and no one even blinked. My case was a little different than yours, though, because my partner is our child's biological mother. That said, Texas still required us to go thru the whole process, so I can answer most questions you might have about that.
If you want to do a private adoption, the agency and the birth parent(s) can set the conditions that you have to meet (within limits). If you adopt a kid from the foster care system, you just have to meet the requirements the state sets. Those are much more reasonable, and the cost is significantly less than a private adoption. If you have your heart set on an infant, I'd talk to a family law attorney who specializes in adoptions to find out what your options are. Unfortunately, I can't recommend an agency since I didn't use one, but I think you're right to be wary of the religious ones.
Post back here if you have any more questions. There are some ACA members who are also members of a local secular family group, so someone else might be able to recommend an agency.
My wife and I adopted through CPS in Dallas, TX. As atheists, we had about 2 or 3 agencies to choose from that were not of a religious affiliation. That is out of a list of about 50 agencies. Once we completed our training, background check and the like, we had our home visit. This included questions like, "how will you provide for your child's religious upbringing?", and the basic, "what church do you go to and how often?". We ended up adopting a 2 and 12 year old. The foster home they had been in for 1 1/2 years was Pentacostal, and during our one visit to see their church, there was speaking in tongues, laying of hands, and open statements of racism and homophobia.
What is the point of this background? Religion is a part of our society, and moreso when it comes to adoption. Your main objective, I assume, is to adopt a child. With that in mind, there should be no problem finding a non-religious or lightly religious organization to work with. There aren't many, but they do exist. It is a little less likely if you are adopting an infant through private adoption, but they are out there. Start by contacting CPS and going to an introductory meeting. Its the first step of adopting through CPS. Even if you don't want to go that route, they provide a long list of adoption agencies, and you can research them to find out if it is a good match. If you are in the DFW area, the one I can recommend is Gladney. Just Google them, and you can get some more information.
Hope this helps. Good luck. It isn't an easy path, and we found we usually had to keep our opinions to ourselves, smile and nod, and come up with some very nice sounding, vague answers to religious questions. One solution: check out the Unitarian Church. That way you can say you go to a church without lying. :)
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The ACA Lecture Series continues Sunday, March 8th at 12:15pm at the Austin History Center, 9th and Guadalupe. The building opens at noon. Ryan Bell will talk on "My Year Without God: Now a Permanent Condition."