Alberta Child and Family Services has backed down and reversed its denial of an Edmonton couple’s application to adopt children. The government had denied the application solely because of the couple’s religious beliefs about marriage and sexuality. This reversal follows a court application filed against Alberta Child and Family Services in November of 2017, seeking judicial review of the adoption application denial.
The married couple, who are referred to in filed court documents as “C.D.” and “N.D.,” have no children of their own, and are currently unable to conceive due to medical complications. N.D. was adopted at birth himself. C.D. was keen to adopt an older child, for whom it is extremely challenging to find adoptive parents.
On October 7, 2016, C.D. and N.D. met with a Child and Family Services intake worker to submit their application to adopt. Their file was assigned to Catholic Social Services in Edmonton, which began the Home Study process of considering the applicants’ financial, emotional and social stability, and overall fitness to adopt. Catholic Social Services recommended to Alberta Child and Family Services that the couple be approved for adoption.
On March 6, 2017, Catholic Social Services advised the couple that Child and Family Services had further questions in regard to the couple’s beliefs regarding sexuality. The Home Study had evidenced that the couple are Evangelical Christians with biblical views on marriage and sexuality. The C.D. and N.D. reiterated their commitment to treating any child in their care with unconditional love, respect, and compassion regardless of what the child chose to do, and regardless of the child’s choices regarding sexual behavior.
On March 13, Catholic Social Services advised C.D. and N.D. that it was reversing its previous recommendation that they be approved for adoption. The rejection letter enclosed a revised Home Study Report that stated the couple should not be approved as adoptive parents because they would be unable to “help” a child who “has sexual identity issues” The rejection letter did not explain how or why the couple would be unable to “help” a child that they valued, loved, accepted and respected. The couple asked Catholic Social Services to reconsider their decision but were refused.
On May 3, the couple met with two Child and Family Services staff, who informed them that they had denied the couples’ application to adopt. The Casework Supervisor explained that Child and Family Services considered their religious beliefs regarding sexuality to be a “rejection” of children with LGBT sexual identities, and that this stance was the “official position of the Alberta government”. The couple was subsequently informed that the denial of their application was final.
The Justice Centre represented C.D. and N.D. in their legal challenge to the Alberta Child and Family Services decision. The Justice Centre’s court application, filed on November 1, sought judicial review of the May 3, 2017 decision of Child and Family Services to deny adoption to C.D. and N.D. on the basis of their sincere religious beliefs in regard to marriage and sexuality, and a declaration that the decision is “unreasonable and void by virtue of arbitrariness, bias, bad faith, as well as breaches of procedural fairness and natural justice.”
The court application further sought a declaration that the decision to deny adoption violates sections 2(a) and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Alberta Bill of Rights and the Alberta Human Rights Act.