Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Social Services
State Board of Social Services
Minimum Standards for Licensed Private Child-Placing Agencies [22 VAC 40 ‑ 131]
Action Adopt new standards for licensed private child-placing agencies.
Stage Proposed
Comment Period Ended on 4/1/2011
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4/1/11  3:37 pm
Commenter: MaryBeth Burns, RN, MSN

Opposed to 22 VAC 40-131-170(B)

I am writing as a health care professional in opposition to the proposed language of 22 VAC 40-131-170, which would add the following language to the “Program Statement” section of the Standards for Licensed Child-Placing Agencies:


B.    The licensee shall prohibit acts of discrimination based on race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, or family status to:


1.    Delay or deny a child’s placement; or


2.    Deny an individual the opportunity to apply to become a foster or adoptive parent.


I am opposed to this wording for several reasons.

The designation of  “sexual orientation” and “family status” as protected classifications will most likely force faith-based adoption service providers to cease providing adoption services.  These organizations are simply not willing  to violate their religious/moral beliefs about families, marriage and sexuality.  This has already happened in both Washington, D.C. and Massachusetts, to the detriment of children and families of those areas. 

Adoption services are provided by many religious organizations in Virginia.  Many serve not only the members of their own faith communities, but people of all faiths or of no faith at all. Currently, these organizations are free to make adoption decisions that agree with their religious beliefs regarding placement of children.  For example, they can choose to place children only in homes established by married couples, as opposed to situations involving unmarried adults. This religious freedom should be maintained. 


In addition, neither Virginia law nor federal law supports making "sexual orientation" a protected classification for adoption services.

Moreover, the proposed regulation’s prohibition on discrimination on the basis of “religion” is an infringement on the religious freedom of religious organizations.  These organizations should be free to provide adoption placements only to their members or to those who share common religious/moral beliefs about families and children.  No religious organization should be forced to provide services to everyone, though many do.

Numerous studies document that children have a more stable life when living in a home with a mother and a father.   Organizations that choose to only place children for adoption in homes with a married woman and man are making a decision that will benefit the children they serve.  Impeding these organizations from making such placements will only prove harmful to children.

For these reason, I respectfully request that DSS  reject the proposed language of 22 VAC 40-131-170(B).

CommentID: 16681