By Andrew Hasbun
Last week Bethany Christian Services wouldn't talk about their policy toward Catholics in Mississippi. Now the organization's national president is saying the Mississippi chapter can bar Catholics from adopting, even though Bethany helps Catholic parents adopt across the country.
"I can't sit here and say that they were wrong," said Glenn Demots, Bethany's president.
Headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the adoption agency says individual chapters can set their own rules.
"That office and all the Bethany offices try to make the best decision they can based on their beliefs and Bethany policy and practices and the discretion they have to do that in their location," said Demots.
"We shouldn't split hairs over something so special and sweet as adopting a baby," said Sandy Stedman. Sandy and her husband were turned away by the Jackson chapter, because, as Catholics, they conflict with the group's statement of faith.
"What we try to do is place with families that are closely in line with what our practices and beliefs are," said Demots.
Bethany Christian Services has offices in 32 states. Last year they placed more than 18-hundred children, some to Catholic parents. The president says they will look into the Stedman's case and the Mississippi branch.
"On this issue we will talk with them," said Demots. "In our mind there is a significant misinterpretation of what went on and we want to communicate accurately what took place and what didn't take place."
But for the Stedmans the damage is done. They say its all in the name: "Christian."
"It is a little misleading," said Sandy Stedman. "If they are going to call themselves Bethany Christian Services, they should accept all Christians."
The Stedmans are now using an agency out of Utah and another Mississippi organization to adopt.
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