I am writing to support 22 VAC 40-131-170(B) as approved by the State Board of Social Services on April 20, 2011. These regulations protect the religious freedom of faith-based adoption and foster care agencies to serve according to their deeply held beliefs on how best to care for vulnerable children. Admittedly, this typically means that these agencies give preference to placing children in mother/father families.
Approximately, two-thirds of the adoption agencies in Virginia have a religious affiliation and many of this group may well find it untenable to continue to operate if the regulations in question are rescinded – reducing the resources available to vulnerable children and adoptive families. This has been the case in Massachusetts, the District of Columbia and the United Kingdom when religious freedom restrictions were imposed on faith-based providers.
These regulations are NOT about opposing gay, lesbian or transgender adoptions. It is currently and would remain legal for a willing agency to place children with married or single adults without regard to sexual orientation. (Even though, as previously stated, it also allows for the discretion of agencies, based on their religious convictions.) Proponents of placing children in gay, lesbian or transgender households may even want to consider directing their efforts to expanding the pool of like-minded agencies and resources.