Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Back to List of Comments
10/4/11  2:32 pm
Commenter: Laverne Smith, Independent Conservatives of Campbell County

Preserve Religious Freedom

Dear Members of the Virginia State Board of Social Services,

I can appreciate the difficulty of balancing competing pressures in a regulatory environment and how groups use the comment process to influence the Board's decision making.

Adoption is a very sensitive area because it involves the future care-taking of our most vulnerable citizens.

Adoption facilitators, by the very nature of the need, have to be discriminating when considering the best placement of a child in home.  Many factors can and should be raised; among them, the income and stability of the home environment, the parenting skills of the prospective parents, etc.  For private religious organizations who are adoption facilitators, the prospective parents moral and religious suitability to serve as parents to a child is an obvious and necessary screen. 

A parallel that I think is apt:  There are numerous private and public higher education options available to potential students.  A prospective student should not be agrieved if a particular higher education option is not available to them because the institution determines that the prospective student does not meet admission requirements.  The student and her tuition payments should find a school that will admit her.

Likewise, a couple seeking to adopt a child should look for an adoption facilitator that works best with their particular situation.  I know of adoption facilitators that specialize in open adoptions, in overseas adoptions, in special needs adoptions, etc.  If one facilitator chooses not to take them as clients, they should move on, not be agrieved about it. 

I have walked with numerous people through the adoption process; both the birth mother and the adopting parents.  Ideally everyone is sensitive to the best needs to the child in need and not focused on what will be fulfilling to them.  Children should never be pawns in a cultural tug-of-war.

I recommend that church-based adoption facilitators be free to screen prospective parents as they choose; just like other private and public adoption facilitators do.  If a church-based adoption facilitator is not a suitable agent for a couple to work with in the adoption process, then other private or public facilitators are available.  Such a policy is not discriminatory and keeps open an important avenue for parents to find children to raise and children to have secure, loving parents.

CommentID: 19232