Monday, May 13, 2013

Family is Family. Adoption, Foster Care or Biological



Yesterday was Mother’s Day and I realized how lucky I was to have two children.  If it weren’t for adoption and the gift of life from two birth mothers, whom I never knew, I would not be a parent.  I would not have been celebrating Mother’s Day nor the past joys that comes from the first steps, the first tooth, the first prom, the high school and then college graduations. 

Yet, if I were lesbian, it would not have been automatic that I would have received a child, let alone two.  Some states ban LGBT people from adopting, but the vast majority are silent about the issue making it legal for child welfare agencies to discriminate against potential adoptive and foster parents because they are gay.

Studies of Gay Parenting

Researchers estimate that as many as two million LGBT people are interested in adoption.  Agencies and programs that discriminate against gays attest that “it is not in a child’s best interest to be adopted by a same-sex couple.”  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  UCLA released a study that found that same-sex parents are just as effective at raising foster children as heterosexual couples.  The study also said that there is no scientific basis to discriminate against gay and lesbian parents.  The American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that “whether a child is raised by same-sex or opposite-sex parents has no bearing on the child’s wellbeing.”

The nation’s foster care crisis could be alleviated if the 400,000 children in the foster care system could be adopted by LGBT people.  LGBT youth are overrepresented in the foster care system, in part because of the discrimination they experience in their schools and biological families. 

Congress Reintroduces Every Child Deserves a Family Act

Recently, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-Ny), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fl) and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga) announced that they plan to reintroduce the Every Child Deserves a Family Act which would prevent child welfare agencies from discriminating against LGBT Americans who want to be adoptive or foster parents. 

If passed, the bill would also prevent child welfare programs from discriminating against LGBT children.  Because of the discrimination they experience in their schools and biological families, LGBT youth are overrepresented in the foster care system.

The bill is a big step toward not only solving the foster care quagmire, but giving LGBT people the dignity and respect they deserve as well as the joys of parenting.