Press Release

Foster families to court: Don’t let ACLU take away kids’ futures Michigan foster kids and families fight back against ACLU lawsuit threatening to shut down adoption programs

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Melinda Skea 202-349-7224 media@becketlaw.org

Additional Information

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Shamber Flore, a former foster child, and several foster families were in Michigan court today to fight back against the ACLU’s efforts to shut down the adoption programs that brought their families together (watch Twitter Live statement here). In Dumont v. Lyon, the ACLU is suing the State of Michigan to end its partnerships with religious adoption agencies, threatening the futures of thousands of foster children who desperately need homes. Today’s hearing will decide whether religious adoption agencies can continue doing what they do best: uniting children with loving families. 

Each year 600 youth age out of Michigan’s foster care system, and are more likely to end up in poverty, without an education, and back on the streets. With nearly 13,000 children in Michigan foster care, and not enough families to take them in, the State relies on private agencies like St. Vincent Catholic Charities, which last year successfully recruited more new adoptive families than nearly 90 percent of the other agencies in its service area. St. Vincent is also particularly good at placing sibling groups, older children, and children with special needs (watch video here). 

“St. Vincent rescues children from the most vulnerable, most disadvantaged backgrounds like mine and gives them a chance to be part of a loving family and have a normal, healthy, happy childhood,” said Shamber Flore, a former foster child who found her adoptive family through St. Vincent. “We can’t let the ACLU take that away.” 

Last year the ACLU sued the State of Michigan to forbid the state from partnering with faith-based adoption agencies like St. Vincent solely because of their religious beliefs about marriage, even though St. Vincent cares for children regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity, and its beliefs have never prevented a child from being placed in a loving home. In fact, gay couples working with other agencies have been able to adopt children in St. Vincent’s care in the past and the ACLU’s clients live closer to four other foster and adoption agencies that would have helped them adopt. Yet instead of going to one of those agencies they have gone out of their way to try and shut down St. Vincent.  

“ACLU is trying to punish St. Vincent because of its beliefs but the only casualties from its needless lawsuit are the kids,” said Stephanie Barclay, counsel at Becket, which represents the foster families and St. Vincent Catholic Charities. “Shutting down one of the most effective adoption agencies in the city helps no one and instead hurts thousands of vulnerable children.”  

“We couldn’t have adopted without the support of St. Vincent,” said Melissa Buck, a mother of five children with special needs adopted through St. Vincent. “And we continue to rely on vital support services St. Vincent provides to this day. If these programs were shut down, it would be devastating for our family.”  

Becket is defending St. Vincent Catholic Charities, Shamber Flore and Melissa and Chad Buck in this case against the ACLU’s lawsuit. A new website highlights the foster care crisis in Michigan and the harm the ACLU’s lawsuit will cause for thousands of children. A decision is expected by the end of August.  

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, please contact Melinda Skea at media@becketlaw.org or 202-349-7224. Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.