Saskatchewan’s social services minister, Grant Schmidt, is under fire for giving funding to a Christian adoption agency and for saying publicly that homosexuals should not be eligible to adopt children.

Christian Counselling Services of Saskatoon will become the province’s first private adoption agency and the government grant of $100,000 will fund a one year pilot programme. An agency spokesman said that the service’s priority is to help unmarried mothers and confirmed that it does not counsel abortion.

Adoptions will be open, with the birth parents and adoptive parents knowing each other and, if both parties agree, arrangements will be made for natural parents to keep in touch with their child. “The majority of young women coming to us will want their child placed in a Christian home,” the spokesman said.

He added, however, that this would not necessarily mean that non-Christian adoptive parents would be excluded. The agency will look at the stability of the home and the couple’s marriage, financial situation, and their overall suitability as parents, he said. The natural mother will have the final say in choosing parents for her child.

Such statements have not reassured the NDP opposition in Saskatchewan. They are demanding a guarantee that “non-Christian families will be treated equally.” Joining the NDP in this demand are groups such as the Saskatchewan association of Social Workers, the Saskatchewan Action Committee an the Status of Women, the Saskatchewan Conference of the United Church of Canada and the Saskatchewan Government Employee’s Union.

Minister Schmidt disagrees. “I can’t see why anyone should be against Christian counseling,” he said. “I can’t see why anyone should be against Christians; even people who are non-Christian are not against Christians.” He added that he did not see anything wrong with a mother wanting her child adopted by a Christian family.

After weathering this storm, Schmidt landed in the middle of another when he remarked that he did not believe that homosexuals should be allowed to adopt children. These remarks came after Schmidt received the 1987 pro-family award, given by the Committee to Protect the Family, in recognition of his work in blocking a sexual orientation amendment to the Saskatchewan human rights code recently.

Schmidt said, “we have more stable families lining up for adoption and we believe we should do what’s best for children.” He was immediately attacked by NDP social services critic, Glenn Hagel, and Human Rights Commissioner, Ron Kruzeniski.

Kruzeniski said that “sexual orientatioin” legislation could easily include an amendment so that it did not apply to adoption, but, he added , he thought the equality sections of the Charter of Rights would make it illegal to prevent homosexuals from adoptiong.

Hagel said that Schmidt’s comments “express and intolerance that is simply not acceptable in a free society.” However, Hagel apparently changed his mind following an encounter with pro-life pickets in Moose Jaw. He said his earlier reaction to Schmidt’s comments had been misinterpreted. Adopting couples, he said, should be “a man and a woman. That’s important to provide the long term security of the family relationship for the child as well as the role model that is normal in our society in Saskatchewan today.”