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  9:27 pm
Commenter: Kelly McGinn - VA Adoptive Mother

New Regs Do Not Promote "Best Interests" of the Child

As an adoptive mother and citizen of Virginia, I implore you not to implement the regulations proposed by the Virginia Department of Social Services with regard to the class of persons eligible to adopt children in our state.  The proposed regulation is wrong-headed as it would not promote the placement of children in the most stable and permanent homes available in our state and, thus, does not promote the best interests of children in need of adoptive and foster homes. Moreover, the proposed regulation would violate the First Amendment rights of faith-based child welfare agencies to place children in the homes they deem to be in their best interests, and as a result foreclose their ability to give countless children the priceless gift of a mother and father to love them for the rest of their lives.

Proposed regulation 22 VAC 40-131-170(B) would prohibit a Licensed Private Child Placing Agency from engaging in "acts of discrimination" with regard to delaying or denying child placements based on sexual orientation, age, or family status or choosing among respective applicants for foster parent/adoptive parent status.  This is absurd.  The primary responsibility of the Licensed Child Placement Agency is to discriminate among potential parents in order to select the most appropriate parents for the child in need of a family.  As an adoptive parent who was approved through a Virginia homestudy by a religious organization, my husband and I were appropriately subjected to tremendous scrutiny of every element of our lives during the homestudy process precisely because of the State's interest in ensuring the best possible home for our son.  Children who are placed for adoption are uniquely in need of the most secure and loving parents that are available because they will already have endured the loss of their birth parents.  They need a forever family and not just a roof over their heads.  For example, it would be unreasonable in my estimation for an agency to place a child with a couple in their 70s as compared with a couple in their 30s as the latter would presumably have a longer life expectancy to care for the child.  Discrimination is an inevitable part of finding the right family for the particular child in question.  Similarly, although redefining family, marriage, and parenthood has become a national obsession, one man and one woman joined in marriage remain the most successful paradigmatic family in which to place a child.

While I was at UVA Law School, I studied Family Law and Children's Law and was constantly reminded of the axiom that all such law is premised on furthering the "best interests" of the child.  I see nothing in the proposed regulations that offers any basis for surmising that the best interests of children are served by expanding the group of eligible parents to include all unmarried persons of all ages.  There is no dearth of stable, married couples seeking to adopt children.  This is a solution in search of a problem if the goal is to serve children.  Indeed this proposed regulation bears all of the marks of a social experiment on our children and is violative of the historical purpose of standing adoption laws.

Religious organizations have been among the most dedicated and successful groups promoting and expanding adoption in our state and throughout this country.  Placing them in legal jeopardy by requiring that they abandon appropriate and prudential discrimination among potential parents in the best interests of the child is irrational.  The proposed regulation is, thus, inconsistent with the State of Virginia's presumed interest in promoting adoption and ensuring the best interest of children in need of new, permanent, loving homes.

CommentID: 17213