Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, has called on Catholics to support adoptive families, while recognizing the important work of faith-based adoption agencies during National Adoption Month.

“For 25 years, our country has observed November as National Adoption Month, a time set aside to celebrate adoption and consider how we can support those who are adopted, their birth parents, and their adoptive families,” he said in a statement from the diocese.

“Adoption has deep roots in our Catholic faith and is evident in Sacred Scripture, as St. Joseph was [the] loving foster father of Our Lord.”

The bishop praised the work of Catholic Charities of Arlington, which began offering adoption services in 1947. That work continues today, he said, as Catholic Charities serves expectant parents who have “courageously and selflessly discerned they can best provide for their children by making an adoption plan,” and helps match couples seeking to adopt with children of all ages, children with special needs, and those in foster care.

Pope Francis has encouraged adoption and called for support of adoptive families, to make the often difficult bureaucratic process easier.

“[There are] many, many families who do not have children and would certainly have the desire to have one with adoption,” he told employees and patients of an Italian hospital for abandoned children last year. “Go forward, to create a culture of adoption, because there are so many abandoned children, alone, victims of war and so on.”

Burbidge said faith-based adoption agencies are often appealing to parents who want to work with organizations that share their values.

“Many parents who seek the services of Catholic Charities come to us because they want to work with staff and counselors whose faith motivates their work, and Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington remains a lifelong support for all who have worked with our adoption program, including the adoptees.”

In recent years, Catholic adoption agencies in several states have had to shut down because of their conviction that children should be placed in homes with a mother and a father. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case this week - Fulton v. Philadelphia - involving a Catholic foster agency that lost a city contract due to a requirement that it  place children with same-sex couples.

In 2018, Senator Kamala Harris - now the Democratic vice presidential candidate - questioned a judicial nominee about his membership of the board of Bethany Christian Services, a global non-profit that provides adoption services and crisis pregnancy support. She said the organization “discriminated against LGBTQ couples who sought to adopt children.”

In December 2019, a new rule from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services clarified that faith-based adoption and foster agencies would be allowed to receive federal funding without being required to place children with same-sex couples. The rule replaced a 2016 regulation by the Obama administration that prohibited adoption and foster care agencies from receiving federal funds if they chose to place children only with a married mother and father.

Burbidge voiced gratitude that Catholic Charities of Arlington has “maintained this legal protection for faith-filled families and their adoption providers.” He asked Catholics to pray for continued protection for faith-based groups as they carry out their work.

“Let us also seek guidance from Our Lord, and the intercession of Mary our Mother and his adoptive father, St. Joseph, as we work to ensure that children find the homes to which God calls them,” he said. “And may Our Lord Jesus continue to bless parents who place their children for adoption and the families who adopt children.”