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  5:45 pm
Commenter: Ken Cornelius

Opposition to Proposed Standards
I write re: the proposed language of 22 VAC 40-131-170, which would require Licensed Child-Placing Agencies to "...prohibit acts of discrimination based on race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, or family status...." in determining who can become a foster or adoptive parent. 
Let me state at the outset that I believe the foremost responsibility and purpose of your regulations should be to seek what is in the best interest of the child in all adoptive placements. Your responsibility is not to be an advocate for  social causes and movements "of the day"--your responsibility is to be an advocate for children who need parents. The following comments are based on my belief that this principle should be the bedrock under every regulation you develop and implement.
First, I do not believe you have the legal authority to promulgate this regulation as it pertains to "sexual orientation." The statutory standard in the Commonwealth is that only married couples (in the form of one father and one mother), or an unmarried individual may become adoptive parents.  Additionally, the people of Virginia recently, and overwhelmingly, determined that marriage itself is also limited to one man and one woman. When children are involved, (female) mothers matter and (male) fathers matter. Any final regulation, therefore, must provide clear and convincing legal rationale for allowing same-sex couples to adopt children.   
Second, notwithstanding any determination as to legality, you are the Department of Social Services and it seems to me that your regulations should be governed by settled and widely accepted social science. Social science clearly shows that the optimum situation for the well-being of children is in a home headed by a married father and mother. This is unquestionably true. Children can obviously be raised in other situations, but they are not optimum.  Departmental regulations which are intended to govern all cases, should not enshrine exceptions as equal to the broadly accepted norm. In this regard, for example, there is no long-term, consensus scientific studies indicating children raised by homosexual partners have outcomes equal to traditional families.  Similarly, what if a married father and mother who are 70 years old wish to adopt an infant. Would your proposed regulation which requires placements to not discriminate regarding age then require such a placement? If so, would you not then be responsible for the agony of the adopted child who would likely become parentless a second time before reaching adulthood? Again, your primary responsibility is to promulgate scientifically-based and common-sense regulations that are in the best interests of the child. Regulations not meeting this standard (whether regarding sexuality, age, etc.) have the clear potential to do emotional violence to the child. Any final regulation, if promulgated in its current form, should address and provide the scientific rationale that it will result in optimum outcomes for children.
Finally, this regulation clearly puts your Department on a clear path to a confrontation with religiously-based providers of adoption services.  The Department knows better than I that religious-based organizations are key to the placement of children needing parents; I daresay this is particularly true for traditionally hard-to-place children.  So, why would the Department promulgate a regulation that will clearly lead to a result in which the Commonwealth risks losing significant service providers (e.g., as in Washington DC recently)? Any final regulation should clearly address this potential and any associated ramifications (financial and otherwise) to Virginia citizens if religious-based organizations would have to withdraw from providing adoption services in order to uphold their religious beliefs.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this proposed regulation.         
CommentID: 16840