February 3, 2012 at 2:56pm



~Protects religious liberties of birth-parents, adoptive parents and adoption agencies~


Immediate Release                                                                                 February 3, 2012


Richmond--By a vote of 71 to 28 the Virginia House of Delegates today overwhelmingly passed House Bill 189, sponsored by Delegate C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah). House Bill 189 would codify the regulations recently enacted by the Department of Social Services that protect faith-based adoption agencies and ensure that they, and the birth and adoptive parents they serve, may continue to facilitate foster care and adoptions in cooperation with the state but consistent with their moral and religious convictions.


The proposal does not affect in any way who can adopt children in Virginia. According to current law and practice, married couples and both heterosexual and homosexual individuals can adopt, and there are both public and private agencies that facilitate those adoptions. Those agencies are unaffected by this bill. House Bill 189 protects the rights of birth parents to choose an adoption agency and adoptive parents who adhere to their strongly held religious convictions and beliefs. These birth parents and adoption agencies may only choose to place children with married couples of a similar faith, for instance. These faith-based agencies have also played a vital role in alleviating the backlog in foster care caseloads in the Commonwealth in recent years, helping to bring caseloads down from 7,557 in 2007 to 4,718 in 2011. Were these agencies not protected by this legislation, future regulatory changes could quickly put them out of business and reduce hope for countless children in need of a loving home.


“I applaud my colleagues for embracing the continued protection of religious liberties in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Delegate Gilbert said. “When signed into law by Governor McDonnell, this measure will chisel into law the principle that people of faith can adhere to their convictions, without fear of reprisal from those who would discriminate against their religious beliefs regarding how we should raise our children,” Delegate Gilbert concluded.


60 private adoption agencies exist in Virginia; 42 of them are faith-based.