LONDON, England - Nearly every Christian adoption agency in the United Kingdom has been forced to close after resisting the government's equality laws.
The legislation prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, and requires adoption agencies to consider same-sex couples as potential parents.
However, Christian agencies say they can't comply because homosexuality goes against their beliefs.
Since the U.K. equality bill was passed in April, the number of adopted foster care children has dropped by 30 percent, and it's estimated there are 4,000 children still awaiting adoption.
However some agencies have managed to remain open after re-branding, including the Cabrini Children's Society.
"It has been difficult because any re-branding exercise is difficult," said the society's chief executive Terry Connor. "And it has been a question of convincing our supporters that we are still operating in much the same way as we always have done in terms of the services we were delivering."
Connor added that the increasing number of orphans awaiting adoption is concerning.
"I think it is a worrying time. Statistics have decreased in recent year, and that is worrying because there are at any one time over 60,000 in public care," Connor said.
Christian Institute spokesman Mike Judge believes the equality law is direct discrimination against Christians standing by their beliefs and seeking what's best for the children.
"Well this is yet another example of Christians being sidelined from public life. Remember, it was Christians who pioneered adoption work in the first place, and it's faith-based adoption agencies now that have done a remarkable job in finding loving homes for hard to place kids," he said. "And sadly it's the children who are going to most suffer from this."
The same law cost Christian doctor Sheila Matthews her job on an adoption panel. She felt homosexual couples shouldn't be able adopt because children are "best placed" with a father and mother in a stable relationship.
"I became increasingly uncomfortable about approving same-sex couples," Matthews recalled. "And when I asked to abstain from voting on these cases I was dismissed from the adoption panel."
Matthews recently lost an appeal against the decision.
"The Christian adoption agencies were doing a fantastic job in working with harder to place children," she said of the decreasing Christian adoption groups. "And I think it's a great loss they're not able to continue doing this."