Jessica Bates of Oregon is a single mother of five who lost her husband in a car wreck six years ago.
"She felt called by her Christian faith to open her home to a sibling pair in need," details Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse, legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and lead attorney on the case "She wanted to adopt a sibling pair from the foster care system in Oregon."
But the state would not let her do that because her faith does not coincide with Oregon's rule that an adoptive parent must "respect, accept, and support … the sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression" of any child the department will put in that person's home.
Bates filed a lawsuit against the department in April, citing violations of her religious and free speech rights. U.S. District Judge Adrienne Nelson has now denied the lawsuit, saying there is no such violation.
"Ms. Bates is obviously disappointed," Widmalm-Delphonse relays. "She's actually been getting things ready since we filed the lawsuit; everything about her home is up to code so she can welcome a child as soon as possible. She's just thinking about the children in the system that are hurting because of this categorical rule that Oregon's adopted, and her heart breaks for them."
Meanwhile, he says children in Oregon's system are having to sleep in hotel rooms and on the floor of social workers' offices for a lack of facilities and foster homes willing to take them. The attorney says denying people like Bates the chance to adopt is harmful to kids.
"We're exploring the next steps with the state, including a potential appeal," he reports.