National Adoption Month: Finding a “Green Light” Agencies
November 16, 2012 by Guest contributor
Post submitted by Maria Bates, founder of Project Patchwork, Inc.
National Adoption Month is upon us and families are waiting for their turn to finalize their adoptions and make permanent what is already true in their hearts. Although adoptions are finalized in courtrooms every day around the country, National Adoption Month allows us to publicly share some amazing stories of adoption and to inspire others to consider adopting. As an adoptive mother, adoption attorney and founder of the first Florida based agency to receive HRC’s All Children-All Families seal of recognition for LGBT culturally competent adoption agencies (Project Patchwork, Inc.), I am excited to share with you my perspective on adoption by LGBT families.
Although we have seen much progress in Florida, it still saddens me when I receive a call from a prospective adoptive family asking whether we will work with a gay or lesbian person. I immediately launch into how proud I am that my agency is part of HRC’s All Children—All Families initiative and that I have years of advocacy in LGBT adoption rights before digging into their questions about adoption in general. All prospective adoptive families, LGBT or straight, have questions about how birthparents choose families. However, it is my experience that LGBT families tend to feel more concerned about whether or not they will be chosen by birthparents. My answer is simply this: we have had a few birthparents specifically state that they are only interested in a straight couple, but the vast majority of our birthparents openly state that they do not have a preference. And there are an equal number of birthparents who express a preference for same-sex couples over straight couples. This has a lot to do with how my agency communicates with our birthparents about the importance of choosing a family that matches their interest, values, and hopes for their child, versus focusing on sexual orientation, marital status, age, race, etc. This approach is consistent with HRC’s All Children-All Families recommended “best practices,” and illustrates that we equally value all of our approved families.
HRC Family Project Director Ellen Kahn Director once likened adoption agencies to street lights: There are red light agencies that will not work with LGBT families; yellow light agencies that will work withLGBT families, but with an assumption that straight families are a better choice; green light agencies who believe that LGBT families are equal.
These “green light agencies” and adoption professionals must actively communicate with their birthparents about their options with LGBT families. Many birthparents areconsidering adoption options as a unique, one time experience. It is the adoption professional’s responsibility to help them understand their full range of options - without bias - and to help them identify what is important to them in choosing an adoptive family.
Birthparents have their own fears about how their child will be raised with an adoptive family. By showing all types of prospective adoptive family profiles and helping birthparents address their fears, birthparents get to the essence of what they are looking for in a family.
To those of you considering adoption, it is truly a gift. Every day I am grateful that I was chosen to parent my three children. Adoption journeys may feel like rollercoaster rides, but the professionals we work with along the way can help us use those twists and turns to be better parents and the end result is always worth the wait.
Happy National Adoption Month!
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