When Illinois legalized same-sex civil unions this last June, some Catholic adoption agencies in Chicago shut their doors and other unsuccessfully tried to sue to keep state funding while continuing to deny same-sex couples the right to adopt children, a violation of state civil union law. But the Catholic Diocese of Peoria did something different.
The Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Peoria announced last week that instead of suing, they’re gonna “transfer its staff and caseload to a new nonprofit organization with no affiliation to the Roman Catholic Church.” John Culhane at The New Civil Rights Movement has already called this approach “The Peoria Solution,” but there’s still a few unanswered questions regarding its ability to cure what ails Catholic adoption agencies.
In essence, the Diocese of Peoria has decided to abdicate its community role and hand their kids over to a “secular” entity, something that probably won’t sit well with all of the Catholic leadership, especially those who think that the church has a responsibility to give kids to Bible-approved heterosexuals.
The Catholic adoption agencies in Peoria will continue to oversee its current dockett of adoption cases until January 31st so the new non-profit organization will have time to get set up. But it remains unclear how the non-profit will get the money and infrastructure in place to start processing adoptions so quickly.
[When] the Catholic Charities in Rockford terminated its foster care services, an independent child welfare agency, Youth Service Bureau of Illinois Valley, stepped up to take on the 330 children and hire most of the caseworkers and support staff.
But yet again, what will help a pre-existing agency like the Youth Service Bureau of Illinois Valley with absorbing this massive increase in workers and kids? Presumably the new and pre-existing organizations would gain the state funds previously allotted to Catholic agencies, but such funds don’t automatically solve logistical issues like paperwork, storage, office space, and the mechanisms by which the adoptions will take place.
Until we hear the reaction of Catholic leadership and better understand how money and logistics play into establishing these new adoption agencies, it’s too early to tell whether the Peoria solution could provide a tenable compromise between churches and the state adoption requirements of equality states nationwide.