Celebrating National Adoption Month
November 1, 2011 by Ellen Kahn, Director of the Children, Youth & Families Program
For many November 1 is just “the day after Halloween,” a day when our kids are harder to rouse from sleep after a late night of trick or treating and a belly full of candy. For others, however, today marks the start of National Adoption Month, an opportunity to focus on the ongoing need to find permanent families for over 100,000 children and youth in foster care, and to celebrate the thousands of adoptive families that are part of the fabric of every community. Throughout this month you will see and hear stories about adoptive families, “recruitment” messages encouraging you to consider adoption (either as a means of starting or expanding your family), and you will learn more about the needs and opportunities for providing a forever home to a waiting child.
HRC’s Family Project has been addressing these issues since launching the All Children—All Families initiative in 2006. The impetus for All Children—All Families came from our own community, from the lesbian couple in Texas who had been brilliantly fostering a sibling group of three children for nearly two years, and when a recommendation was made by their social workers to finalize the adoption a local judge mandated that an effort be made to find a family with a “mother and father.” From the gay couple in Oklahoma that had completed the required classes and home-study, who were viewed by their social worker as an “ideal family” for children, but later learned that a supervisor had “flagged” their file with the directive to not place children “in that kind of environment.”
We were also motivated by many inspiring stories, like that of Dennis Patrick in Michigan, who with his partner has adopted four boys from foster care, becoming a beautiful and thriving family of six. And Mary McGowan of Minnesota, who has fostered and adopted several children and is now a leading educator and advocate for children and foster care, and Jill Jacobs, an adoptive mom and leader of Family Builders in Oakland, which for years had been the only agency that actively recruited LGBT adoptive parents. The goal of All Children—All Families is essentially the same as the goal of National Adoption Month; to raise awareness of the opportunities to adopt and to increase the pool of adoptive families for those children and youth who do not yet have a place to call home. We do this with a focus on the LGBT community, working with agencies across the U.S. to help them establish policies and practices that are welcoming and supportive of LGBT parents, to provide information and support to LGBT individuals and couples who want to adopt, and to advocate for those who may encounter obstacles along the way.
This month All Children—All Families will be honoring several agencies with our “seal of recognition,” including Alameda County (CA) Department of Social Services, New Jersey’s Department of Youth and Family Services, and Devereux Arizona. We continue to work with over 50 agencies that are pursuing this seal of recognition (and will join the 14 other seal earners). We will be launching a video awareness campaign, “You Can Too,” featuring LGBT adoptive families from across the U.S., and we will be expanding our web-based resources to provide a wealth of information and support to members of our community who are exploring adoption. We hope all of you will find a way to celebrate National Adoption Month, either by telling your own story, by reading or learning more about adoption, or by contacting your local agency to find out if they welcome LGBT families and encouraging them to learn about All Children—All Families. We can work together to find a family for all children and youth in foster care.
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