Bethany Christian Services opens adoptions to LGBTQ parents under inclusivity policy

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids-based Bethany Christian Services will now start adopting children to LGBTQ couples.

The announcement of a new inclusivity policy came Monday from Bethany, which as a faith-based organization previously did not adopt out to same-sex couples. It was first reported by The New York Times.

“It’s going to open up a  world for kids who normally wouldn’t have a home, so it’s just fantastic,” said April DeBoer-Rowse, who was at the center of the landmark case that led the U.S. Supreme Court to rule same-sex marriage was legal.

The case started because her adopted children couldn’t legally be tied to both parents. 

“We did get met with a lot of agencies who would not work with us because we were a lesbian couple,” she said. 

The policy approved by Bethany’s Board of Directors does not include the term “LGBTQ,” but rather says Bethany will “implement a nationwide policy of inclusivity in order to serve all families.” The policy also acknowledges doctrinal differences among Christian churches, though again, it does not specifically list same-sex marriage as one of those issues.

A Monday letter to Bethany staffers also does not explicitly say LGBTQ families may adopt, but does say the organization “will now offer services with the love and compassion of Jesus to the many types of families who exist in our world today.”

In a statement released to News 8, Bethany President and CEO Chris Palusky said the new policy reflects the organization’s desire to help as many kids as possible.

“For the past 75 years, Bethany Christian Services has never wavered from our mission of demonstrating the love and compassion of Jesus to children and families. We help families stay together, we reunify families who are separated, and we help vulnerable children find safe, stable homes when they cannot remain in their own.

“These days, families look a lot different than they did when we started. And Bethany is committed to welcoming and serving all of them.

“For us to carry out our mission, we are building a broad coalition of people – finding families and resources for children in the greatest need. The people we serve deserve to know they are worthy of being safe, loved, and connected. The need is great, so we are taking an ‘all hands on deck’ approach.”

Bethany Christian Services President and CEO Chris Palusky

In a separate statement, Nathan Bult, senior vice president of public and government affairs at Bethany Christian Services, said that “funding gains or losses were not a factor” in changing policy.

“My hope is that they are doing it for the right reasons and they are doing it for the kids,” DeBoer-Rowse said. “And I think it’s absolutely amazing that there will be an even bigger opportunity for children in the foster care system and in adoption to have permanent, safe and loving homes.”

Bethany runs a massive foster and adoption program with locations in 30 states and more than a dozen countries.

It had already been adopting to LGBTQ families in Michigan since May 2019. The new inclusivity policy includes the entire organization both in and outside of Michigan.

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