New SOT: Rockford Diocese Shuts Down Adoption Services

Just posted online, a new batch of Signs of the Times stories. (We'll be posting new SOT items every week over the summer.) The first item concerns adoption services in the Catholic diocese of Rockford, Ill:

The Diocese of Rockford has announced that its Catholic Charities offices will no longer offer state-funded adoptions and foster-care services after the new Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act took effect June 1. Because the law did not include an exemption allowing religious organizations to refer adoptions or foster-care arrangements involving same-sex or unmarried cohabitating couples to other agencies, "the Diocese of Rockford is forced to permanently discontinue all state-funded adoption and foster-care operations as of June 1," said Penny Wiegert, diocesan director of communications, at a May 26 news conference.


Catholic Charities activities not funded by the state—including private adoptions, school counseling, private family and marriage counseling, outreach and emergency services, immigration and refugee services and crisis pregnancy counseling—will not be affected. There has been no word from the other five dioceses about whether they would similarly discontinue state-funded adoption and foster-care services.

Tim Reidy


Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Martin Gallagher
6 years 11 months ago
Does anyone know the details of the "Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act?"  Does it mandate that a private agency must provide adoptions for unmarried couples? 

It seems as though you would want that clarified before you decided to permanently stop a worthwhle service.  I wonder of Illinois' other dioceses have the same read of the new law.  Have any of them commented?
Todd Flowerday
6 years 11 months ago
I'm not sure this is as tragic as it's being spun.

The truth is that adoptions facilitated by the Church today are a mere fraction of what they were in the 1960's and 70's. In my diocese, adoption services were terminated years ago because the few cases (seven in five years) could be better handled by other agencies.

The real shame is that Catholic dioceses choose not to retool their adoption efforts. What do I mean by this? Well over 100,000 American children are orphans or have had parental rights terminated. They are available for adoption right now.

Instead of wringing hands and playing the victim, my suggestion is that bishops get off their butts and start promoting adoption as a choice for Catholic couples and families.

Adoption is not a cure for childlessness, as much as it is a solution for boys and girls who languish in foster care without permanent homes. If the bishops were really serious about their alarm at gays and fornicators adopting their handful of kids, we'd see some concern about those children not in our direct care.

Catholic Charities personnel could be redirected to work with Catholic couples, promoting adoption, getting home studies completed, making connections with secular agencies and state departments of human services. A convincing pro-life witness is needed today. Not whining. Not layoffs. Not a lack of imagination from our bishops.
Bill Freeman
6 years 11 months ago
@Todd - Thank you for your insightful comment.  The Bishops have created a straw man argument and used support of non-discrimination of the gay community as a convenient reason to exit from this important issue.  You would make a great manager of one of these programs.
Edward Visel
6 years 11 months ago
Is the Catholic Church really so against non-heterosexual two-parent households? I understand the Catholic ideal, but the reality is that the Church is full of divorced parents, single parents, and maybe a few very persistent gay parents. Isn't it more important that parents care for their kids?

Being from the Rockford Diocese originally, I understand their position. It is a very conservative diocese with an ideologically driven and uncompromising bishop. It is not a very welcoming place, unless you fit a very specific demographic.

But it is odd that Rockford is the only Illinois diocese shutting down operations. Perhaps it's just an effort to avoid legal costs; in any event, it's sad, not that the law exists, but that the Church can't accept the society which created it.


Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Chilean clerical sex abuse survivors Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and Jose Andres Murillo in Rome, May 2. The three met Pope Francis individually at the Vatican April 27-29. The Vatican announced on May 22 that a second group of abuse victims will visit the pope in June (CNS photo/Paul Haring).
The encounters will take place from June 1-3 at Santa Marta, the Vatican guesthouse where Francis lives.
Gerard O’ConnellMay 22, 2018
Pope Francis talks with Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, as they arrive for a meeting in the synod hall at the Vatican in this Feb. 13, 2015, file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) 
Righteous call-outs should be patterned after Cardinal O’Malley’s rebuke of Pope Francis on sex abuse.
Simcha FisherMay 22, 2018
In May, my cousin Christina and her husband Tyler were murdered in their home.
John J. ConleyMay 22, 2018
Follow Father Arturo Sosa's first visit to the Jesuits in Canada!
America StaffMay 22, 2018