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Faith-based adoption center fights to continue ministry amidst New York state harassment

ADF attorneys represent New Hope Family Services, ask court to stop discriminatory investigation against Christian nonprofit

Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a faith-based adoption provider filed a motion Tuesday asking the court to allow the Christian nonprofit to continue its critical work of placing infants with disabilities or other “hard to place” factors in permanent homes without government harassment because of its religious beliefs. Syracuse-based adoption agency New Hope Family Services filed a federal lawsuit in September after the New York Division of Human Rights threatened to investigate and penalize the Christian nonprofit because it places infants with couples consisting of a mother and father committed to each other in marriage.

The state agency has served threatening information demands on New Hope Family Services even though, in a separate lawsuit between New Hope and another New York state agency, two federal courts have already found that the state likely violates New Hope’s First Amendment rights by attempting to force it to place children in a manner inconsistent with its religious beliefs. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court even more recently held that an effort by the city of Philadelphia violated the First Amendment rights of a faith-based foster-care agency by invoking non-discrimination laws to force the organization to operate in violation of its religious beliefs.

“The state of New York is so determined to silence or destroy New Hope Family Services that it is violating New Hope’s First Amendment rights and launching a barrage of unlawful and discriminatory attacks against the religious nonprofit,” said ADF Senior Counsel Mark Lippelmann. “The government cannot force a faith-based nonprofit to choose between compromising its religious beliefs or losing its ability to serve adoptive parents and children. We have asked the court to stop this unlawful investigation and harassment and allow New Hope the freedom to continue serving abandoned infants by placing them in loving homes as it has for more than 50 years.”

Since its founding more than half a century ago, New Hope has worked with birthmothers and adoptive parents to place more than 1,000 New York children into permanent homes. New Hope devotes its efforts exclusively to placing infants and very young children for adoption. It has an extraordinary record of being willing to place, and successfully finding adoptive parents willing to accept, children who are categorized as “hard to place” due to disability, medical condition, race, or other factors. In recent decades, the vast majority of infants placed by New Hope have fallen into one or more “hard to place” categories. Yet New Hope has never failed to find a permanent adoptive home for any child entrusted to its care—even infants with severe medical conditions.

ADF attorneys filed the motion for preliminary injunction in New Hope Family Services v. James in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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