Robert Laird, St. Raymond Catholic Church Springfield, VA
Proposed Adoption Regulations - Comments
Thank you for providing the opportunity for the citizens and organizations of the Commonwealth of Virginia to easily provide comments to proposed regulations. I am providing comments to Section 22VAC40-131-170(B) of the proposed regulations. My comments are specifically addressing the following proposed language: “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: delay or deny a child’s placement; or deny an individual the opportunity to apply to become a foster or adoptive parent.”
1.It is very clear that the proposed ruling exceeds the authority of and is directly contrary to several statues and the Virginia Constitution itself:
a.§63.2-12-1.1 which states that “Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit any child to have more than two living parents by birth or adoption, who have legal rights and obligations in respect to the child, in the form of one father and one mother.”
b.§63.2-1225 which states, “In determining an appropriate home in which to place a child for adoption, a married couple or an unmarried individual shall be eligible to receive placement of a child for purposes of adoption.”
c.Section 15-A of the Virginia Constitution states that “only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions….”
2.Not being able to discriminate by “sexual orientation” and “family status” places an additional burden on the birthmother who desires to place her child into an environment which will be better than the one that the birthmother can provide. In Virginia, the safest environment for such a child is one which the adoptive parent(s) are either a married couple as defined by the statutes or an unmarried individual who is not living in an environment which will be detrimental to the upbringing of the child.
3.For the reasons above, the regulations also place an excessive burden on the adoption agency.
4.The above regulations, if enacted, would put out of business at least three of the largest adoption agencies in the Commonwealth, Catholic Charities for the Dioceses of Arlington and Richmond, and Bethany Christian Services.
5.Religious freedom has been the hallmark of the Virginia Code and the Virginia Constitution. These regulations are an attempt to bypass these documents to impose an unnecessary restriction on Christian agencies who are specifically incorporated to help serve the people of the Commonwealth.
I respectfully request that the State Board of Social Services rescind this section of the proposal.
Additionally, while I understand that the comment period most likely was for 30 days and established a month ago, it is very apparent from the date of the comments, that most of the agencies most impacted by the regulations were unaware of their existence until the last few days. There were some significant comments with regard to other aspects of the regulations submitted by several agencies. I recommend that in addition to removing the subject language discussed above, i.e., “sexually orientation” and “family status,” the revised regulations be resubmitted for review for an additional 30 days.