Post submitted by Dina Stuhl, Children’s Services Administrator I at LA County Dept. of Children and Family Services’ Adoption and Permanency Resources Division, the first public agency to receive the distinction of HRC-recognized Leader in Supporting and Serving LGBT Families. Dina interviewed Bob and Conrad, dads who adopted through foster care with LA County, and shares some of their insights.
On Deciding to Adopt
Bob and Conrad had been a couple for 14 years before Bob started plying Conrad with ideas about adoption. Having come from a large family, Bob always knew that being a parent was going to be part of his future. Conrad was a bit hesitant due to their ages, late 40s, but slowly he came around to the idea. They explored their options on the internet and found that there are foster children awaiting adoption in our own front yard here in Los Angeles County. They decided to adopt from foster care and came to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in LA County
On The Process
At LA County DCFS, we’re proud to say that both Bob and Conrad expressed that they felt they were welcomed, respected and treated fairly from the start, both as individuals and as a couple. They loved the classes on adoption through foster care (called Permanency and Safety: Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting (PS-MAPP)).
Bob and Conrad’s experience going through the process was “pretty easy going” in that they were matched in about a year and they didn’t have much adversity (e.g., there were few court hearings and no visitation with birth family to facilitate).
Bob and Conrad both knew that a sibling set of boys was for them but they differed in their thought on age ranges. Conrad won out with age group 3-5 as it would give them more time to bond and hopefully less time for experiential trauma from their journey through the foster care system. They were matched with a 4 and 5 year old sibling set of brothers. Why siblings? The boys had been in five prior foster placements before coming to their home. These two brothers had been the only constant for each other; if they could trust no one else to that point, they could rely on each other.
On Becoming A Family
Conrad admits that it was difficult to get their older son to trust initially. To help the boys talk about and understand their history prior to their placement, they did Life Books together and got the boys into a therapy program called TIES for Families (Training, Intervention, Education and Service). The program supports adoption and helps the whole adoptive family deal with the trauma and loss inherent in foster care and adoption.
The boys know they have a birth mother and understand that there can be many adults who love them. Along those lines, they have tried to teach the boys that families come in many different varieties and have selected books like “Daddy, Pappa and Me” by Lesléa Newman to help in that understanding.
The boys have been in their home for almost 2 years now and are pretty settled in. Bob’s aunt lives with them and helps with the child care as both he and Conrad work outside the home. At school many extended family members come to pick up the children so they see that it is not just about the nuclear family – it does take a village.
On Recruiting New Adoptive Parents
They are ecstatic at being parents and admit to frequent bouts of gushing about the boys. At a recent birthday party they attended, Conrad was so exuberant in his talk about the boys and their adoption experience that his long time friends began the process of looking into adoption too.
This May, HRC is proud to celebrate National Foster Care Month by honoring the leaders at child welfare agencies that are committed to improving outcomes for LGBTQ youth, the LGBTQ foster youth themselves, and the foster families supporting them. Stay tuned to HRC blog throughout the month for more foster care stories.