Ellen Kahn: All children need ‘forever families’
April 11, 2011
HRC's Ellen Kahn, Director of the Family Project, penned an op-ed in today's Richmond Times-Dispatch on why all children deserve loving, stable families. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has said he does not support proposed regulations that would ensure loving, committed parents can provide stable families for children in need.
All children need and deserve parents who love them, who will make them breakfast and send them off to school, help them with their homework and tuck them in at night. Today in Virginia, more than 1,000 children are waiting for their forever families — for the parents who will love and support them. These children need and deserve to be part of permanent, loving families.
Things are looking up for these girls and boys. A proposal from former Gov. Tim Kaine would prevent child welfare agencies from discriminating against potential parents on the basis of sexual orientation, marital status or religion in the adoption process. Instead, agencies would focus solely on the character of those seeking to adopt and their ability to provide a loving and stable home to a child. This change is consistent with the policy recommendations of our country's leading child welfare organizations.
The Child Welfare League of America, the nation's oldest and largest child welfare organization, opposes restrictions on gay and lesbian adoption and sets standards that call for fair and equal treatment of families to determine their ability to care for children needing adoption. The North American Council on Adoptable Children opposes laws and legislation that restrict the consideration of prospective foster and adoptive parents based on their sexual orientation.
In addition, two research-based reports by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute recommend that agencies allow same-sex couples to adopt in order to expand the pool of foster and adoptive families. Across the country, an increasing number of agencies see the value in opening their doors to same-sex couples; 50 adoption agencies have joined The Human Rights Campaign's All Children - All Families initiative by instituting policies that welcome lesbian and gay adoptive parents.
It is in the best interests of children that all qualified adults who have the room in their hearts and homes to adopt a child are permitted to do so, and are treated fairly in the process. After all, it is in everyone's interests — but especially those of the children — that we ensure that foster youth do not "age out" of the system without the benefit of a stable, loving family.
On Tuesday, Gov. Bob McDonnell told reporters that he does not support the proposed regulations to open more loving homes to children. We hope he will reconsider this issue before he makes his formal recommendation to the state Board of Social Services. And we hope the board ultimately is guided by the best practices established by the child welfare profession, not by discriminatory motivations that create barriers to permanent families for Virginia's children.
This decision should be based on what's best for children and not on politics. It is plain and simple: If the proposed regulations go into effect, there will be more loving, forever families for more children. Let's do the right thing.
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