Regarding the Feb. 8 Metro story “Adoption overhaul seen as anti-gay”:

During 12 years as a foster parent in Arlington, I’ve seen the damage — both physical and psychological — that parents can inflict on their children. And I’ve been honored to meet foster parents of all races, sexual orientations, ages and socioeconomic backgrounds who have stepped forward to nurture these children. It takes a certain optimistic belief in the healing nature of love to bring a severely damaged child into your home.

So I am sickened by the facile ability of the Virginia legislature to pass a bill that would allow private child welfare agencies to exercise a “conscience clause” to discriminate against potential foster and adoptive parents on the basis of sexual orientation. Many of the children they place enter the system through local county governments, and many of them receive government subsidies. Why are our lawmakers so quick to hand these agencies such a free pass?

I know from experience that most children entering the child welfare system want a hug, attention and reassurance that they are safe. The last thing they care about is sexual orientation. With too few people willing to foster or adopt children who may suffer life-long problems, why does Virginia think it is acceptable to exclude people who are willing and able?

Tamar Abrams, Arlington

The writer serves on the board of the Child Welfare League of America.