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Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
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9/12/11  11:03 pm
Commenter: Jackie Funk, Northern Virginia Resident

Place children in loving, stable homes...period.

I wrote in the first time this was up for debate. It is time to stop the madness and put children first. While I understand that from a religious perspective, some Virginians still have issues with gay parents, when it comes to foster parenting the bottom line is that these kids need loving, caring homes.

I am gay. When I was 24 (I'm now 45), I came across an African American teenage girl in need of a loving, stable home. She had been bounced around from group home to group home for close to two years (as a 12/13 year old). She was in permenant foster care already because her family elected not to remove the "bad guy" (her uncle) from her home. First I became a big sister...then I applied to be a foster parent. I was initially turned down because I was white and she was black, even though there were hardly any black families in the foster system at that time and even few who were willing to take in a pre-teen/teenager. Then there was the fact I was single...even though no families came forward to take her in. Next I was advised to keep my sexuality to myself as it would have been a deal breaker. So I told her (a lot to share with a teen) and we moved on. I fostered her with my partner for three years, helping her graduate from high school and secure a full scholarship to college. She often struggled with why we cared when her family did not...but never struggled with our domestic partnership. She lived in a loving, supportive environment that allowed her to be a kid, live life without worry of abuse and to grow.

That was 21 years ago. To think that today, we are still "fighting" to just be considered as a foster parent (or adoptive parent) without the fear of being excluded just because we happen to be gay is appalling to me.

I am now in a relationship of 19 years, we have two biological children and have once again "taken in" a child in need...this time my partner's nephew. Luckily, the judge didn't care about our situation (although she could have). And while that was a concern up until the court date, we knew (and know) that we must live our lives honestly and openly. Our nephew just started his 3rd school year with us here in Loudoun County. Everyone around us will tell you we are loving, caring, supportive parents. Many of our friends and neighbors would never have taken this on...we didn't flinch. We're not special, but thank goodness we were not excluded from consideration just because we are gay.

I must reiterate that the best interests of the child should be the sole factor in deciding whether a child should be placed with a prospective foster care or adoptive parent or parents.

  1. State-licensed child placing agencies should not be allowed to discriminate against children or prospective parents based on race, national origin, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, disability and family status
  2. The State Board of Social Services should restore to the final rules the protections against such discrimination included in the proposed rules.

I hope my voice is heard. I would be happy to stand in front of you and share our story. These kids need loving families...and these families come in all shapes and sizes!



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