The joke for this week goes like this: “My ex got into a bad accident recently. I told the doctors the wrong blood type. Now she will really know what rejection feels like.”

This week I’m going to tell you a rejection-related story of a different type.

A movie I just watched called “Instant Family” ties in well with my topic. This film, based on a true story about a couple who become foster parents to three siblings, does an awesome job of portraying the ups and downs of foster parents.

In Canada, there’s always a big need for foster parents, with a shortage in some provinces, including Ontario. Though many people inquire about becoming foster parents, children’s aid societies are still finding it difficult to attract qualified people.

The most common issues that inhibit people from being accepted are: too many children in the home, insufficient bedrooms, lack of a vehicle or driver’s license, or a criminal record check turned down.

But in October of 2018, a couple in Ontario were rejected as foster parents, even though they had met all the requirements and went through the required training program.

After meeting these requirements, they were interviewed by a social worker who asked personal questions about their religious beliefs. She asked if they believe in “some of the more outdated parts of the Bible”.

When they said they believe in all of the Bible, the social worker asked about their views on homosexuality. The couple assured her, they would treat every child with respect and dignity, regardless of their sexual preferences and would love them unconditionally.

Six months later (October, 2018) they received a letter saying they had been rejected as foster parents because “the policies of our agency do not appear to fit with your values and beliefs”. The couple phoned for a further explanation, and were told their Bible based views on homosexuality were the real reason.

They are fighting against the decision. A lawyer from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has said the couple was dismissed solely because of child services’ bias against their religious beliefs. It’s another example of fundamental freedoms being eroded.

Nevertheless, the need for more foster parents still exists. One article said “agencies will take on qualified foster parents who can care for ‘mainstream’ children and also specialize in a field.”
For example, the article said “some children need foster parents with a deep knowledge of autism; other children may need an LGTBQ friendly home.”

If this is the case, and the agency places children with specific needs in foster homes that specialize in a field, why couldn’t the couple qualify to care for ‘mainstream’ children? If this couple had a deep knowledge of autism, would they still have been rejected?
If we’re speaking about religious freedom, what would happen if a couple belonging to the Islamic faith applied to become foster parents, but were rejected? Of course, they shouldn’t be denied the right to foster children. Wouldn’t a decision to deny them that opportunity be in direct opposition to ‘Canadian values’? If such an incident were to take place, the media would be in an uproar, but for this Christian couple there was complete silence.

Sadly, it’s the children who desperately need quality care, who will be deprived in this scenario. A representative of a children’s agency made the following observation about foster parent applications: “The frequency of rejections is increasing and it is hard to put a finger on exactly why this may be happening”.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s because they’re turning down qualified, caring people.

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