Press Release

Foster families win big in Michigan court Federal judge says Michigan Attorney General discriminated against faith-based agencies

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Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

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WASHINGTON – St. Vincent Catholic Charities, along with Chad and Melissa Buck, parents of five children with special needs, won a major victory for the adoption agency and the families and children it serves.  In Buck v. Gordon, St. Vincent joined the Bucks and Shamber Flore, a former foster child, in fighting the Attorney General of Michigan’s attempt to shut down faith-based foster and adoption agencies. The federal court ruled that “the State’s real goal is not to promote non-discriminatory child placements, but to stamp out St. Vincent’s religious belief and replace it with the State’s own.” Today’s ruling ensures that faith-based agencies can continue working with the State to find more homes for foster children.

Melissa and Chad adopted their five children through St. Vincent Catholic Charities, one of the State’s most successful agencies. Shamber Flore was adopted into a loving family thanks to St. Vincent. In 2017, St. Vincent recruited more new adoptive families than nearly 90 percent of the other agencies in its service area, but despite their success, they were targeted by the Attorney General of Michigan simply because of their beliefs about same-sex marriage.

“St. Vincent has been with us every step of our journey: answering every phone call, coming with us to doctor’s appointments, even bringing us food, as we strive to give our five beautiful children the best future they can have,” said Melissa Buck. “St. Vincent brought our family together, and I’m happy to know they can keep doing their great work helping children find homes.”

There are currently 13,000 children in Michigan’s foster system, and faith-based agencies like St. Vincent have a proven record of effectively uniting vulnerable children—sibling groups, older children, and children with special needs—with loving families. That is why for over 70 years the State of Michigan has relied on St. Vincent to recruit and support foster and adoptive families.

In 2019, Michigan enacted a new policy which threatened the State’s contracts with faith-based foster care and adoption agencies, claiming that the policy was necessary to protect same-sex couples. But no one has ever been prevented from fostering or adopting because of St. Vincent’s beliefs, and St. Vincent will help any couples it cannot partner with to find another agency that can. Same-sex couples who had their paperwork done by another agency have even adopted children in the care of St. Vincent’s foster families in the past. The court emphasized these facts in today’s decision, determining that the State’s new policy would actually mean fewer homes for kids.

“Our nation is facing a foster care crisis, and we are so glad that Michigan’s foster children will continue having all hands on deck to help them find loving forever homes,” said Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket. “The Bucks and St. Vincent Catholic Charities won a victory in Michigan, but there is still work to be done to ensure that faith-based agencies can contribute to ending our nation’s foster care crisis.”

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Ryan Colby at or 202-349-7219. Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.