WASHINGTON, February 27, 2012 — The state of Virginia is poised to make it legal for private adoption agencies to reject parents based on their sexual orientation.
The Republican-led Virginia General Assembly voted in favor of what it terms a “conscience clause” which would allow state-funded private adoption agencies to choose parents it finds acceptable for adoption.
This is an extremely unusual move for a state legislature. Just one other state—North Dakota—has put measures in place enabling state-funded agencies to reject potential-parents based on agency beliefs.
Although the legislation includes language that enables agencies to reject potential parents based on disability, gender and other qualifiers, it is widely believed in adoption advocacy circles that it will be implemented by some religious organizations to deny prospective parents the right to adopt based on their sexual orientation.
Currently, the state of Virginia does not allow unmarried couples living together to adopt. It does, however, permit single men and women to adopt, regardless of sexual orientation.
Of the nearly 80 private adoption agencies currently registered in the state, 16 of them are faith–based.
Governor Robert McDonnell, a Republican, has signaled that he will sign the bill, which will take effect starting May 1 of this year.
This legislation is largely an echo of an earlier decision, made last year, by the State Board of Social Services, which allowed faith-based agencies to reject prospective adoptive parents based on gender, age, disability, religion, and sexual orientation.
In essence, this decision by Virginia’s elected officials sanctions the ability of private agencies, even those receiving public funding, to practice discrimination.
This decision is not in step with most Virginians, at least not according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, which found that a majority of residents believes that agencies should not be permitted to deny homosexual couples the ability to adopt.
This legislation has serious consequences. Not only does it strip away parental rights, but it also penalizes children by limiting the pool of adoptive parents. There are about 4,000 children in foster care in Virginia, about a quarter of who are currently eligible for adoption.
You have to wonder, which members of the Virginia legislature who voted to deny parental rights will step up to adopt the children who languish without families?
Andrea is an adoptive mother and a journalist. She is at work on a book, “The Red Thread,” a collection of stories told by families united through adoption. She is also owner of Media Branding International, a public relations/media consulting firm. She is the editor of Food & Travel in The Communities at The Washington Times.
Read more The Red Thread in The Communities at The Washington Times.
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