Ahniaelyah Spraggs, correspondent
RICHMOND, Va. — Teenagers in foster care in Virginia will be able to express their preference on restoring their birthparents’ parental rights under a law that will take effect July 1.
The General Assembly passed and Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation allowing foster care children ages 14 and older to tell a judge whether they want their birthparents to regain custody of them.
HB 1219 was introduced by Del. David Reid, D-Loudoun, who as a child lived in a foster home and was adopted.
“If parents had issues and had to give up their child, the judge asks the guardian ad litem or social worker if the child has expressed a preference,” Reid said.
The guardian ad litem is a lawyer appointed to look after the interests of a child or other people unable to represent themselves.
Reid was born and raised in Rockbridge County outside Lexington, Virginia. When he was 6, Reid said, his mother left the family. His father tried his best to raise Reid, his sister and two brothers, the legislator said. The children ended up being taken to United Methodist Family Services.
“When I went to UMFS, I had indoor pumping, hot water and a bathroom,” Reid said.
When he turned 16, Reid was adopted from the children’s home and moved to Oklahoma with his adoptive parents. In Oklahoma, Reid said he was able to finish high school and thought about going to college for the first time.
“My dad got a ninth-grade education. I was the first person ever in my family to get a college education,” Reid said.
Reid attended Northeastern Oklahoma State University in Tahlequah — “the capital of the Cherokee” — and graduated with a degree in political science in 1984.
“My junior year was when I reflected back on the last 10 years of my life. That’s when it dawned on me that I was living the American dream, which prompted me to get into the Navy Reserve,” Reid said.
Reid served in the Navy Reserve for 23 years as an intelligence officer and in other positions, while also working in Northern Virginia. He earned his master’s degree in 2002 from the Joint Military Intelligence College in Washington.
Reid, 55, is the chief strategy officer for Axiologic Solutions, an engineering company based in Fairfax. He was elected last fall to the Virginia House of Delegates.