Good News for Adoption from Virginia and Bethany Christian Services

A new Pew Research survey of attitudes toward fatherhood finds a strong majority of the public saying children need a father in the home. Fully 69% say having a father in the home is essential to a child's happiness. Only a slightly higher share (74%) says the same about having a mother in the home.

These facts hold true for adoption too.  Children thrive when they have both a father and a mother. 

Last week's decision in New York for same sex unions, despite that legislation's religious exemption, may not protect adoption.  The exemption protects churches, religious orders like the Knights of Columbus, any non-profit entity under a religious group and any employee of these organizations – including clergy – from being forced to participate in a same-sex ceremony and from being penalized for not doing so. But it may not protect the rights of faith-based adoption agencies to not place children in same-sex households, or parents whose children will be taught in public schools that same-sex marriage is the moral equivalent of one-man, one-woman marriage.  CitizenLink Report has produced a video discussing the New York religious exemption – and who might not be protected by it. Click here to watch

Adoption is a state statutory framework which outlines the parameters of any adoption, and is designed to protect the best interests of a child who needs a family.  This year Virginia legislators took on some amendments to adoption law regarding proposed regulations which would prohibit private child-placing agencies, like Bethany Christian Services, from working with applicants on the basis of their faith. 

By passing this legislation the state would be effectively insuring that no private agency can ever assist in adoption or foster children in any way.  This would have been a dangerous precedent for children when Virginia has such a great need for fostering and adoption.  Children would have been harmed and excluded from care because of it. 

Christian agencies would have been particularly prohibited from any work in adoption or foster care.  For example, Bethany Christian Services approves families to adopt children independently regardless of their race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, or family status. 
However, Bethany Christian Services is a private child-placing agency which receives no state or federal funding and is within its rights to exercise its religious freedom by establishing Christian faith criteria for families who desire to participate in Bethany Christian Services' private domestic infant adoption program.  Bethany Christian Services, through its representatives, requested that the regulation be modified to address a private agency's right to establish private program criteria as an exercise of its religious freedom.

Valerie Crisp, Regent alumni ('05), is counsel for Bethany Christian Services in Richmond, Virginia, and she took on the challenging task of answering the proposals.  Here's what she writes: " I am delighted to report that a number of Christian agencies, including Bethany Christian Services, and individuals commented on the proposed regulations and our objections were fruitful!  Here is the response I received from the Department of Social Services:

One thousand twenty-six (1026) public comments received (in opposition to the non-discrimination language as proposed) including those from four licensed child-placing agencies; 18 groups and organizations; four providers associations; Helen Donovan; adoption attorney; Delegate Robert Marshall.  The result of the comments was as follows: Language referencing gender, age, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, disability and family status was removed. The words ‗to apply' in 22 VAC 40-131-170 B 2 were removed. Change made to be consistent with federal law, 42 USC 671.'"

This was "good news for Christians who are serving in private child-placing agencies!" Most importantly, this was good news for children in Virginia.

The Virginia "Family Foundation compiles a General Assembly report – essentially a storybook retelling of the past session along with Family Foundation commentary and insider information.  Our 2011 report entitled "Strong Families, Strong Virginia" was recently released and is now posted on our website for your viewing pleasure.  Click here to view our GA 2011 report online now.

Similar to last year's report, when you click on some of the pictures in the report, you will be redirected to specific videos on our YouTube site where you will be able to view related footage of committee hearings, Family Foundation TV interviews, candidate campaign promises, and more.  This report in combination with related videos will give you an insider's look at what happened this past session so that you can better understand what effect it will have on you, a pro-family citizen of Virginia."

Adoption in the best interests of children is placed in jeopardy when marriage is expanded.  Family restoration happens when children are not intentionally deprived of having a mother and a father married to each other. 

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