Legislation at the Kansas Capitol could make it tougher for LGBTQ couples to adopt.
However, those in favor of the legislation say it protects people’s religious beliefs.
Sitting in the second row of the hearing, Melissa Penny holds one of her two adoptive children.
“We can do that. We can open our home to a child that needs a home. We ended up having twins,” Penny said as she explains why her and husband decided to adopt.
On Tuesday, Penny and her husband testified in favor of legislation known as the Adoption Protection Act.
“There are lots of people that need to be adopted, lots of kids,” explained Devin Penny.
Under the legislation, adoption agencies or child placement agencies could refuse placements with families based on religious beliefs.
“I really encourage you to support this bill so that we can, whenever possible, allow birth parents to select the families that they want to raise their children,” said Deborah Snapp, with Catholic Charities Southwest Kansas.
Snapp told lawmakers her agency could shut down if it was forced to place kids in homes that didn’t share the same religious beliefs as the birth parents.
“Most of them are looking for an idealized family,” she said.
However, others say the legislation discriminates against same-sex couples.
Tom Witt with Equality Kansas said anyone willing to be a foster or adoptive parents should be considered by placement agencies.
“Gay and lesbian couples are just as good at parenting as any other family,” Witt said.
The Department for Children and Families also submitted written testimony in favor of the bill.
In her statement, DCF Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel said the bill addresses possible barriers that may be keeping placement agencies from coming to Kansas to work with DCF.
On Tuesday, only supporters of the legislation testified.
On Wednesday, opponents will have the opportunity to speak against the legislation.