On Monday, May 12th The Village Family Services finalized its first adoption to a LGBT couple, helping grant a loving forever home to three-year-old twin boys. With more than 36,000 children in the child welfare system on any given day in Los Angeles County, The Village Family Services understands the profound importance of helping children and youth find permanency and loving environments.
Ross Smith and Aaron Knight were one of the first LGBT couples to become certified foster parents with the agency, and they were placed with the twin boys in October of 2013. By February of 2014 the agency opened their case for adoption and had them on track for finalization four months later. While the foster-to-adopt process was a whirlwind that at times had them both frustrated and thrilled, they relied on the support of each other and their new ally, The Village Family Services, to get them through.
“The people we worked with at the agency were a calming voice,” said Ross. “They were there to say stop and breathe during this process in a very loving way, while also being motherly when they needed to be.”
As an agency with the HRC All Children -All Families Seal of Recognition, The Village Family Services takes the ten key benchmarks of LGBT Cultural Competency seriously and hopes that this first finalized adoption to an LGBT couple will lead to more. Currently, the agency has four LGBT families with foster children in place, and one additional family waiting for a placement.
National Foster Care Month is a great reminder that with an estimated two million LGBT adults interested in adoption in the U.S., it is often an overlooked resource for finding families for the children and youth in foster care.
“When we chose an agency we knew they had to know who we were as a couple. We always felt supported and we were able to work with some amazing people,” explained Ross.
Since the agency’s inception in 1997 nine adoptions have been finalized, with the twin boys bringing that total to 11. In addition, the LGBT cultural competency of the agency has been a cornerstone in helping and enabling The Village Family Services to bring LGBT families together with children that need caring and permanent homes. The boys will have the opportunity to receive therapy through the agency’s Outpatient Department, which demonstrates that continuation of care is integral in providing the best possible service to all of the clients that are served. In addition to foster care, adoption and outpatient mental health services, the agency offers intensive treatment foster care, wraparound services, domestic violence treatment and prevention, and a drop-in center for at-risk and homeless youth.
The Village Family Services will be holding its first annual Adoption event this Saturday, May 17th. The family friendly event will include plenty of fun activities for children ages 0-13 and a panel presentation by adoptive families.
For more information on the adoption event, or our foster care and adoption programs, please visit www.thevillagefs.org.
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.