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Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
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9/14/11  5:15 pm
Commenter: Steven Ashenfelter - former Foster Parent

Everyone needs to read my story from 2001

I was a state-certified foster parent, first through a United  Methodist Church organization (Virginia Emergency Families for Children) and eventually, by the Commonwealth of Virginia.  I had a 3-year old child placed in my home in 2001 because his current foster family, who were at the time, also certified foster parents, suddenly and without reason gave up this three-year old child, just before the adoption was to become finalized.  After he was placed in me and my partner's home, this "family" and their church went on a rampage to have this child taken away from me, merely because he was living with two men.  This "church" (and I use the term church very loosely in this instance) began writing letters to the Winchester Star for publishing in the Editorial Section, picketing outside City Hall and Social Services, all in their attempt to further damage this child's young and precious life by keeping him from being raised in a loving home.  Our illustrious City Manager, Mr. Daley, and his co-hort, Mayor Omps, didn't have enough kindness and compassion or backbone to stand up for what was right.  They ordered this child be removed from my home ... despite recommendations from this child's social worker and therapist that he remain in my home because he had "reached and surpassed" his emotional and other developmental skills during the few months he was in my home.  It didn't matter how this child had suddenly began to excel and thrive with the love and structure he gained while in my home.  It was all about politics to the City of Winchester.  This child's social worker was told to either remove him from my home and place him in another home, or their job would be in jeopardy.  I prayed day and night for God to answer my prayers that this child would be able to stay in a home where I was already "dad" to him.  We did father and son things together all the time.  He was right beside me every Sunday in church.  I was beginning to instill the character, integrity and Christian values in his heart and soul that had been instilled in me as a child.  I have a stable job and at the time had been employed by a federal law enforcement agency as a civilian employee for nearly 20 years.  I am an upstanding citizen in my church and community and was able to offer this child a loving, nurturing home where he felt loved, safe and secure.  As part of his nightly prayers, this child would always end his prayers with " ... and God, please let me stay with Dad Steve forever."

Needless to say, the present "thinking" that only straight parents could or should be allowed to be adoptive parents is something that should have been addressed long, long ago.  Not another child caught up in the system, or another perspective loving parent, should have to suffer the hurt and disappointment of what happened to me and this child.  God is all about love and mercy - not hatred, prejudice, and intolerance.  After all, the children we raise, whether biological or adoptive, are not ours, they're only on "loan" from God to love, nurture, protect, and raise as His children.

I support the entire adoption system being overhauled in order to change how adoptive parents are screened.  Look at the perspective parent(s) and what they can offer a child and what he/she/they can bring to a child's life, not who they choose to love and spend their lives with.  I am exactly who God made me to be, and I'm proud of who I am, the many successes in life, and all of God's blessings.  What I'm not proud of is when I see my fellow man show such ignorance, prejudice and hatred.  Who's favored in God's eyes ... the person that opens their heart and home to a child, or the person or people that goes out of their way to prevent a child from having a loving family and home?

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