On Tuesday, the Virginia State Board of Social Services concluded a 30-day online comment forum on adoption rules in the Commonwealth. The Board asked Virginia citizens to openly comment in favor or against new standards for child-placing agencies that would protect “prospective parents based on race, national origin, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, and family status.” The forum, which received over 2,500 comments distributed evenly throughout the month, focused heavily on adoption rules and whether gay and lesbian couples and individuals should receive the same consideration as straight adoptive parents. Overwhelmingly, fair-minded Virginians commented in favor of non-discrimination measures that protect LGBT families and individuals wanting to adopt.
Virginia resident Lisa Morgan advocates for the children and writes, “The primary function of any family service agency is to protect the welfare of children. Finding good foster and adoptive parents is hard enough without limiting the pool of loving parents by membership in any group or class…Please enact this change for the good of all of Virginia's children.”
She added that nurturing parents come in all forms – regardless of orientation. Parents that are willing and able to provide a safe and loving home for their children should be afforded the opportunity to adopt in the state of Virginia.
M.B. Dunkenberger echoes Morgan’s sentiments: “I believe that the policies regarding who may be a foster or adoptive parent should be as inclusive as possible, while the standards of care and [accountability] should be among the highest. By more openly expanding who the state may consider as foster and adoptive parents, the quality and availability of adoptive placements will only increase.”
In fact, most forum participants pushed for non-discrimination measures and LGBT inclusion in Virginia adoption. Many agree with respondent Keith Combs that “the best interest of the child should be the sole factor in deciding whether a child should be placed with a prospective foster care or adoptive parent or parents.” For the sake of the children, fair-minded Virginians support protecting LGBT prospective parents and allowing them to adopt equally under the law.
To this end, we must ensure the media coverage surrounding this forum and the larger debate be reported fairly, accurately, and inclusively. GLAAD asks its constituents to keep an eye on this story and make certain that upcoming coverage accurately reflects the overwhelmingly positive comments submitted to the Board’s forum. Reporters have an obligation to present the voices of Virginia accurately. Most forum participants support inclusion, and media coverage must reflect this fact. Please let us know if you observe problematic coverage surrounding this story.