"Leaving the hospital without my daughter was the single hardest thing I'd ever done," Adrian remembers. She thinks about watching the hospital clock tick down to the moment she'd have to say goodbye. In those final minutes, she thought her heart might shatter. "I was broken." She swaddled the tiny fingers and toes one last time before a hand came to rest on hers. It was her adoption social worker. Adrian looked into her face and knew she was doing the right thing.
This wasn't supposed to happen to people like her. A junior at a Christian college, Adrian remembers the terror of holding a positive pregnancy test in her hands. "I recoiled in fear and shame," she says. How would she explain this to her parents? "I held several leadership positions at the Christian university I attended. I was a Resident Assistant in a dormitory. I was an editor for our campus newspaper, and editor-in-chief of our school magazine. I was an A-student... An unplanned pregnancy was not part of my meticulously planned life... Loneliness enveloped me."
Scared about her friends' reactions and losing her positions at school, she hid her pregnancy for the entire spring semester. She dreamed about life as a mom, but over time, Adrian admits, "those dreams faded with the realization that I wasn't prepared to be a parent. At the time, I wasn't capable of giving my baby everything she deserved. In the end, my boyfriend and I made the heart wrenching decision to move forward with an adoption plan."
If she couldn't keep the baby, then Adrian says the one thing she could control was who could. Since it was her choice to carry her daughter to term, she wanted the freedom to choose the parents. It was her deepest desire to put her baby in a home with a married mom and dad who "shared the same Christian faith and family goals that I did." Having that choice, she explains, gave her peace. "The moment I walked into Hope's Promise, a faith-based adoption agency located in Castle Rock, Colorado, I knew I'd found a safe place."
Years later, the thought of someone taking that away from her -- or any young mom -- is horrifying. "Birth moms have a right to have their voices heard," she insists. When liberal activists started punishing adoption agencies for placing kids in homes with matching beliefs, Adrian refused to stay silent. She watched as the dominos started to fall in places like Philadelphia, Massachusetts, Illinois, California, and D.C. where groups like Hope's Promise were given a choice: start ignoring the wishes of moms like Adrian, pay crushing fines, or shut down. Every woman who makes the courageous decision to give up her baby "deserves the same right to choose which agency will represent her in the adoption process."
The Trump administration couldn't agree more. And on Friday, the first day of National Adoption Month, HHS kicked off the celebration by announcing a change years in the making. For the first time since Barack Obama, adoption agencies won't have to violate their faith -- or parents' wishes -- in placing kids. Under a new rule proposed by the president's team, faith-based providers will be able to continue to serve their communities in a manner consistent with their religious beliefs.
That doesn't mean same-sex couples can't adopt children. The liberal media -- and its hysterical headline writers -- would love for you to believe that. But this rule has nothing to do with outlawing gay adoption or discrimination of any kind. The same adoption agencies that matched other families with kids before this bill will still be matching them with kids after. That's because this debate has never been about banning LGBT adoption -- it's about letting everyone operate by their own set of beliefs.
"Choosing to place your child for adoption is the hardest decision that I've ever made," birth mom Kelly Clemente says, "but what gave me reassurance was that at least I had control over the family that I was choosing. And for me that did include faith. They were committed to raising that child in a Christian home. I can understand why people might perceive that as intolerance, but what I would tell them is that when you're pregnant, that child is yours. If your priority is matching that family's faith to yours, that's your prerogative."
Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), one of the biggest champions of religious freedom in adoption and foster care, wants people to know, "This is not a fight that conservatives or the faith-based community started... The Left's faith-shaming cannot be permitted to close the doors of one more adoption or foster care center in our country. For all the parents and providers who have been targeted and bullied by activists both inside and outside of government, [this] is a sign of hope."
For more on the debate and what this new rule would mean for parents and charities, check out Mary Beth Waddell's new Townhall column here.