SAN FRANCISCO — The social services arm of the Archdiocese of San Francisco said Wednesday that it has found a way to help connect hard-to-place children with welcoming parents without violating the Catholic Church's views on homosexuality.
By partnering with another adoption service, San Francisco's Catholic Charities will increase the number of children that find homes without directly placing kids with same-sex couples, said Brian Cahill, the agency's executive director.
California Kids Connection, a statewide adoption exchange set up by the Oakland-based nonprofit Family Builders by Adoption, features information on about 500 children on a website that prospective parents can browse.
Workers at the adoption service had to limit the number of children they work with because of staffing, but with the help of three Catholic Charities employees who will be placed there, they'll be able to handle more cases, said San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer.
The Catholic Charities workers will refer prospective parents to agencies that can complete the adoption proceedings, Niederauer said.
"That's where we'll help," he said. "What we won't be doing ... is placement in homes. We can't be involved in that anymore."
Catholic Charities in San Francisco previously completed an average of 25 adoptions, including one to same-sex couples, annually, Cahill said.
The search for an alternative approach began about five months ago, when Niederauer told Catholic Charities that placing children in same-sex households went against church teachings. He asked the agency, which got its start helping children orphaned by San Francisco's devastating 1906 earthquake, to find a way to continue to serve orphans without violating Catholic views.
The new program will allow the charity to help more of the approximately 82,000 children in California's foster care system than it does now, Cahill said.
Boston's Catholic Charities opted out of the controversy by shutting down its adoption program, but Cahill said that was not an acceptable alternative in San Francisco.
"I'm not going to downplay the fact the church told us to stop placing children in same-sex homes," he said. "But we're committed to our mission. We started off as an adoption agency. Why would we give that up?"