Schaer Bill Would Require Adoptive Parents Or Foster Care To Maintains Child’s Religious Upbringing

Assemblyman Gary Schaer today announced he has introduced legislation that would require a private adoption agency, a court or the state to maintain a child’s religious upbringing when placing a child with a guardian, into foster care or into an adoptive home. “A child’s religious and cultural backgrounds are significant aspects of determining the best interests of the child,” said Schaer (D-Passaic/Bergen/Essex). “That’s why it’s so important that the placement of a child into foster care or adoption should be consistent with their religious and cultural backgrounds, unless it’s proven by convincing evidence that such placement is not in the best interests of the child.”

Schaer said the legislation (A-4353), introduced Monday, would permit agencies and courts to place a child in a setting of a different religion only with a written statement from the child’s birth parent or legal guardian.

In the case that such a placement is not feasible or not in the child’s best interest, a written statement will be required explaining the placement decision. In such cases, the bill will require that provisions be made for the child to continue the his religious observance, education and training in the new setting.

The bill has support from advocates.

“While the state has the obligation to remove children from troubled homes, it lacks the legal authority to change their religious heritage,” said Dr. Aref Assaf, the president of American Arab Forum and an advisory board member of the New Jersey Council on American Islamic Relations. “Forcing children to accept a faith other than that in which they were raised by their natural parents is not in the best interest of the child and irreversibly impacts their sense of self-identification, compounds their disillusionment and alienation. We laud the Assemblyman for leading this effort to remedy the legal void in our current laws.”

“We thank Assemblyman Schaer for taking the lead in proposing legislation on maintaining a child’s religious upbringing in adoption or foster care,” said David Mandel, the chief executive officer of Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services, Inc. “This legislation will help ensure and provide continued stability on one of life’s most important choices during a period of trauma and turmoil a young child may be experiencing as they enter foster care. We look forward to continuing to support this effort as part of the overall important work DYFS is working hard to achieve.”

“A child’s religion should not be changed because of the placement into foster care or into adoption,” Schaer said. “Reasonable effort should be to ensure the continuity of the child’s religious upbringing. It’s the right thing to do.” TLS.

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  1. Don’t these Democrats have better things to do!!!? You take a child into your home to love and care fore and now the State will tell you what is best for the child and how to raise them. DYFUS can’t watch the children with the rules they have now, how are they going to keep up with this? I know hire more state workers, it must be how the Democrats create jobs. We need to stop putting these people in office.

  2. A waste of time , if an adoptive parent has all the legal rights as a the legal gaurdian , who has the right to tell them how to raise the child, more government intrussion .when will this nonsense stop !

  3. I’m asking this out of complete ignorance, but if a baby/child is adopted into a jewish family, would it be illegal, under this legislation to be megayer them without the birth parents permission? Also, what constitutes same religion? Does this mean that chas v’shalom a child can be removed from a frum home and placed into a home that is Jews for J?

  4. If religion was so important to that child’s family at the time there was enough turmoil to warrant removal, I would think they wouldn’t be in a predicament to have to be taken from a their home in the first place.

    Once adopted, it’s the parents decision what religion to raise their child, not governments.

  5. Once again,instead of trying to solve the state’s problems by looking into waste, mismanagement, corruption, and doing away with programs we cannot afford, here’s another (moderated) politician (and there are plenty, both D’s and R’s) trying to put another feel good piece of legislation on his resume.
    Let’s use a little common sense here:
    If a child is placed in DYFS or temporary foster care it would be prudent and right to continue his religious upbringing in the faith he/she was born into.
    If a child has been adopted then the family’s faith should be what that child follows.
    When every child in this state goes to bed fed, loved, and wanted even then stupid stumbling blocks to adoption such as the assemblyman’s should not be considered.

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