With Virginia’s attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, telling the Virginia State Board of Social Services (SBSS) they have no legal authority to impose new regulations that could force religious-based adoption agencies to place children with gay and lesbian parents, it’s important to realize the impact that religious adoption agencies currently have in the state, and why it’s important to continue to protect them.
Recent adoption data is hard to come by (maybe the SBSS should focus on fixing that), but in 2002 (the most recent stats available), there were 2,121 adoptions in Virginia. In only 424 cases (about 20 percent) were public child-welfare agencies involved. In 2001, the total adoptions were 2,301 and the percentage performed by public agencies was 19 percent. The remainder of adoptions were conducted by private agencies or through direct placements (by attorneys, etc). According to the Virginia Department of Social Services’ list of accredited agencies and Adoption.com’s listings, there are about 60 approved adoption agencies in Virginia. Of these, about 42 have an explicit religious affiliation.
Now, some of these may not object to placing children with same-sex couples, but it’s fair to guess that the great majority of them would appreciate being able to continue placing children with the parents they think are best for them, without the state intervening. In fact, at least five of these religious adoption agencies weighed in during the public-comment period. A review of these public comments by the Washington Times found that, out of 1,074 comments submitted, only 30 people supported the new regulations.
Bottom Line: Harassing religious-based adoption agencies in Virginia by unilaterally elevating sexual orientation to a protected class would seriously destabilize a large portion of the placement community in Virginia, and firmly goes against public sentiment as well.
It’s good to see that AG Cuccinelli and Gov. Bob McDonnell have their back.