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Adoption Ruling Hurts Children

Adoption Ruling Hurts Children


COMMENTARY: This week the Virginia Board of Social Services made a decision that was a setback in efforts to allow our community to create loving families through adoption. But more importantly, it demonstrated a disregard for the best interests of children in the Virginia foster care system.

By a vote of 7-2, the board decided against new regulations, first proposed under former governor Tim Kaine, that would end discrimination based on sexual orientation by licensed adoption agencies. Opponents included current governor Bob McDonnell and Atty. Gen. Kenneth Cuccinelli, who argued the proposed regulations conflicted with state policy, and faith-based child welfare agencies, which claimed the changes would restrict their ability to set their own placement policies.

What these state officials and agencies ignored is that Virginia's foster care system is in dire need of adoptive families. There are currently more than 6,000 children in the Virginia foster care system and over 1,500 children waiting for adoption. More than 45% of the youth in the foster care system are shuffled through three or more placements and currently 32% are forced out of the system at age 18 without ever finding a home.

In addition, adoption agencies, even those with religious affiliations, have one overriding obligation, and that is to act in the best interests of each individual child. All adoption agencies must judge the quality of prospective parents based solely on their character, their capabilities as a parent, and their capacity to provide a loving home.

Every established, professional child welfare organization universally supports the ability of qualified gay and lesbian individuals and unmarried couples to foster and adopt. More than 30 years of scientific research overwhelmingly confirms that children raised by gay and lesbian parents have the same advantages and same expectations for health, social and psychological adjustment, and development as children whose parents are heterosexual.

Every child deserves a loving home, and in the weeks and months ahead, our organization and others will be working to ensure that we eliminate any barriers that prevent kids across America from finding their forever families.

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