The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF.ca) has filed a court application against Alberta Child and Family Services on behalf of an Edmonton couple whose application to adopt children was denied due to their religious beliefs about marriage and sexuality.
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, and C.D. was keen to adopt an older child, as she explains in her filed Affidavit: “My heart has ached for the older children in foster care that I have met, who I know are unlikely to ever get adopted because of their age. I want to offer kids like these a home and show them that they are valued.”
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, which considers applicants’ financial, emotional and social stability and overall fitness to adopt. Catholic Social Services recommended that the couple be approved for adoption, and supplied this recommendation to Alberta Child and Family Services.
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. 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 sexual orientation or behavior.
On March 13, Catholic Social Services advised C.D. and N.D. that it was reversing its 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 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. One of the staff, a 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 is representing C.D. and N.D. as they challenge Alberta Child and Family Services’ decision. Justice Centre president John Carpay explained that “making determinations about who is suitable to adopt on the basis of their sincere religious beliefs violates this couple’s right to religious freedom and equality under the law as guaranteed in the Charter and in Alberta’s own Bill of Rights and Human Rights Act.”
“If left to stand, this decision would have grave consequences for the freedoms of all Canadians, not to mention adverse consequences for the many children who will never be adopted if the government continues with this discrimination,” added Carpay.
The Justice Centre’s court application, filed on November 1, seeks 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 seeks 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. Finally, the application seeks a court order to approve C.D. and N.D. as adoptive parents.