Dumont v. Lyon

Becket Role:
Case Start Date:
December 18, 2017
Current Court:
Eastern District Court of Michigan
Original Court:
Eastern District Court of Michigan
Practice Area(s):

Case Summary

Thousands of children in the U.S foster system are in desperate need of a safe place to call home, particularly minority children, older children, and those with disabilities. Yet the ACLU is targeting religious adoption agencies like St. Vincent Catholic Charities to drive them out of this important work.

If the ACLU succeeds, some of our nation’s most effective adoption agencies will be forced to end their programs, making it much more difficult for thousands of children— particularly minority and special needs children—to be placed with a loving family.

Giving thousands of vulnerable children a permanent home

Shamber Flore was removed from her birth home at the age of five after experiencing years of exposure to drugs, gangs, and prostitution. Today, she is a successful, happy young woman who has a permanent home with a loving family. This family has said they would not have adopted without the help of St. Vincent.

The foster system is full of children like Shamber. In Michigan alone there are nearly 13,000 children in foster care. Many of those kids are just waiting to be adopted. Every year in Michigan, over 600 youth “age out” of foster care, which means that at the age of 18 they officially leave the foster system never having found a permanent family. This number is on the rise, and a recent study showed that these youth—mostly African American—are particularly vulnerable to ending up in poverty, without an education, and back on the streets.

That’s where religious adoption agencies come in. Last year, St. Vincent recruited more new foster families than almost every other agency in its service area. Through St. Vincent’s work last year, 79 children were placed in foster care, 24 children had their adoptions finalized, and 17 additional children began the process of finalizing an adoption. And the majority of the kids in St. Vincent’s care are minority and special needs children.

Religious adoption agencies like St. Vincent are important in this work because they are able to recruit families from different segments of the population that would not otherwise adopt or foster. They are also particularly successful at placing large sibling groups and children with special needs, as well as providing support to those families.

Defending religious adoption agencies that help children

But in September 2017, the ACLU sued trying to make it illegal for the state of Michigan to partner with religious adoption agencies simply because of their religious beliefs. This lawsuit is not at all about protecting children. It is about scoring cheap political points at the expense of children.

In December 2017, Becket moved to intervene in the case in the Eastern District of Michigan to defend these crucial partnerships that help care for our most vulnerable children.