Bethany Christian Services Statement on Katera Jenkins (Barker)

June 09, 2020

Bethany Christian Services is aware of the online petition seeking justice for Katera Jenkins (Barker). At the time of Katera’s tragic death in 2018, she was awaiting the finalization of her adoption through our agency.

We are as grieved today as we were the day we learned of Katera’s tragic death. Our entire purpose at Bethany is to protect the vulnerable, and we were and are deeply saddened at the loss of Katera's precious life. We mourn with her birth parents, who remained a loving presence in her life, and the loving family who was in the process of adopting her.

Bethany staff worked closely with the Office of the District Attorney in Nashville throughout its investigation into Katera’s death, participating in a series of interviews and providing them full access to all case files including the home study assessing the adoptive family’s readiness to welcome Katera into their home.

Since the petition in question suggests that race played a role in Katera’s death, we believe it is important to address.

Our staff follow a thorough vetting process for prospective adoptive families. Racism and discrimination are not tolerated in any way, shape, or form. We require all parents seeking to adopt a child through private adoption to receive transracial adoption training. Katera’s adoptive family received this training not once, but twice (the first time as they prepared to adopt their first child, who is also African American) and received ongoing support after Katera’s release to their care.

Race and social justice issues continue to be at the top of our priorities as a human services organization. We are committed to combating individual, institutional, and systemic racism, including in the child welfare system.

At Bethany, we believe Black lives matter. Katera’s life matters.