One of the largest adoption and welfare agencies in the United States, Bethany Christian Services, announced on Monday that it would begin providing services to LGBTQIA+ American parents with immediate effect, reports The New York Times.
Bethany, a Michigan-based evangelical organization, announced the change in an email to about 1,500 team members that was signed by Chris Palusky, the organization’s president and chief executive.
“Now we are going to offer services with Jesus’ love and compassion to the many types of families that exist in our world today”, wrote Palusky. “We are taking a ‘hands on deck’ approach, where everyone is welcome.”
The announcement is a significant change for the 77-year-old organization, which is the largest Protestant adoption and adoption agency in the United States. Bethany facilitated 3,406 placements in temporary adoption and 1,123 adoptions in 2019, and has offices in 32 states. (The organization also works on the placement of refugees and offers other services related to the well-being of the child and the family.) Previously, potential and openly homosexual adoptive and adoptive parents in most states were referred to other agencies.
The decision comes amid a high-risk cultural and legal battle that includes questions about sexuality, religious freedom, paternity, family structure and theology.
In the coming months, Bethany will offer training to all employees. “We recognize that there are people who will not be happy. We may lose some donors. But the message we are trying to get across is inviting people to our side. Serving children shouldn’t be controversial “said a member of the organization.