Governor McDonnell, Why Are You Playing Politics With Children’s Lives?

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell opposes regulations proposed by his
Democratic predecessor that would prohibit child welfare agencies
in the state from discriminating on the basis of sexual
orientation, marital status and religion.  Currently, only single
men and women – regardless of sexual orientation – and married
couples are allowed to petition to adopt in Virginia.  These
changes would, for the first time in the state, allow gay and
lesbian couples to jointly adopt children.

There are currently more than 6,000 kids in the Virginia foster
care system – over 1,500 of whom are available for adoption.
Rather than ensuring these kids have access to every possible
qualified and loving parent, Gov. McDonnell is choosing to play
politics with the lives of these children. By denying lesbian and
gay couples the ability to adopt in Virginia, McDonnell is
eliminating thousands of potential qualified adoptive parents.

At a recent press conference in response to the proposed
regulations he stated, “I don’t think we ought to force
Catholic Charities to make that part of their policy or other
similar situated groups,’’ McDonnell said. “Many of our
adoption agencies are faith-based groups that ought to be able to
establish what their own policies are.”


Adoption agencies have ONE obligation – and that is to act in the
best interests of each individual child. The welfare of children is
not a church/state issue.  In issuing licenses to adoption
agencies, the state of Virginia has an affirmative obligation to
ensure that such agencies are acting in the best interests of the
children they place. The state has an interest in ensuring that
each licensee is operating under established best practice
principles as set forth by child welfare professionals. Mainstream
professional child welfare organizations universally support the
ability of qualified gay and lesbian individuals and unmarried
couples to foster and adopt. Among these organizations are the
American Psychological Association, Child Welfare League of
America, American Academy of Pediatrics, National Association of
Social Workers, North American Council on Adoptable Children,
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and countless
others. More than 30 years of scientific research overwhelmingly
confirms that children raised by gay and lesbian parents have the
same advantages and same expectations for health, social, and
psychological adjustment, and development as children whose parents
are heterosexual.

Rather than doing all he can to ensure children currently waiting
in Virginia’s foster care system have every possible opportunity
to find the stability and permanency they so desperately need, Gov.
McDonnell is content to play politics and allow religious
organizations to dictate the state’s child welfare policies.

If the current system is working so well, Governor, then why does
Virginia have one of the WORST records in the country when it comes
to finding permanent, stable, and loving homes for children in its
foster care system?

Virginia has the lowest rate of public agency adoptions in the
nation. In 2009 there were 6,700 kids in foster care in the state
of Virginia.[1] While 663 children from foster
care were ultimately placed with adoptive families,[2] by year’s end 1,612 kids available for adoption
were still waiting for permanent families of their own.[3] More than 45% of the kids in VA’s foster care
system have been in 3 or more placements – shuttled from home to
home without finding the stability and permanency they desperately
need.[4] Virginia has the unique distinction
of ranking first among the states in the percentage of youth who
age out of foster care each year (32%).[5]
Research shows us that youth who age out of foster care without
ever finding permanency are at a high risk for poverty,
homelessness, incarceration, and early parenthood.

Governor McDonnell, is this really the best you can do for the
thousands of Virginia’s children who are in your care?

The reality is that religious entities such as Catholic Charities
facilitate relatively few adoptions in VA. The reason there are
more than 1,500 kids waiting to be adopted is not because there are
not enough religious organizations willing to facilitate these
placements – it’s because there are not enough qualified loving
parents to provide stable nurturing homes for these children. On
its own website, the State of Virginia declares that “A supply of
parents who are ready to adopt is a significant factor affecting
adoption rates…”[6] The only way to
increase the number of public adoptions and to reduce the number of
youth in Virginia’s foster care system is to remove all remaining
barriers to finding qualified, loving, and stable parents who can
provide permanent homes for these children. Denying those in foster
care the opportunity to be placed with loving and nurturing parents
in a stable home is NOT in the best interests of Virginia’s

Governor McDonnell, if you truly have the best interests of
Virginia’s children in mind, if you truly want to find loving
permanent homes for the thousands of children in foster care,
remove the barriers facing these children and allow them to find
the families they so desperately deserve.

Sign our petition, and we will deliver your message to the State
Board of Social Services.

Tell the Governor to stop playing politics with
children’s lives
. Remove the barriers between Virginia’s
foster children and their future loving families!

[1] Foster Care Children Demographic Report
for September 2009 (End of fiscal year 2009), Virginia Department
of Social Services, file available for download at

[2] Adoptions of Children with Public Child
Welfare Agency Involvement by State FY 2002 – FY 2009, U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services , Administration for
Children and Families , Administration on Children, Youth and
Families , Children’s Bureau (August 2010), available at

[3] Children in Public Foster Care on
September 30th of Each Year who are Waiting to be Adopted FY 2002 –
FY 2009, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ,
Administration for Children and Families, Administration on
Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau (August 2010),
available at

[4] Snapshot of Children in Foster Care in
Virginia, Data As of: 2/1/2011, Virginia Department of Social
Services, available at

[5] Foster Care, Virginia Performs:
Measuring What matters to Virginians, available at

[6] Id.