Stories of Adoption
Lesbian and gay parents are raising over 65,000 adopted children and youth in the U.S. This accounts for more than four percent of all adopted children. Here are the stories of just a few of these families’ stories, illustrating the many joys of adoptions – and in some cases, the challenges faced by LGBT families throughout the adoption process.
Do you have a story about adoption?
Throughout National Adoption month, HRC will celebrate LGBT families and their stories of adoption, as told in their own words. Do you have an experience to share? Enter now and your story could be featured on HRC Backstory during November.
In Their Own Words...
The following are a few examples of the countless stories we've received over the years from LGBT families.
From Respite to Guardianship to Foster Care to Adoption
I met my son 9 years ago while I was working at a skilled care facility and we had a unit for special needs adults. Minors were not usually placed there but the state allowed this for one week until a foster placement could be arranged.
Foster care could not be found and he was given a two week extension. Then I agreed to him home and provide respite until his mother could resume care. He could not walk or feed himself, and was not toilet trained. He was 7 years old at the time, primarily strapped in a wheelchair and had all care provided to him. He has cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder. I am a nurse by background so I had a tendency to see his potential.
It was tough the first year, but he accomplished self feeding, walking. Using the bathroom has also improved greatly. Our relationship changed from respite to guardianship to foster care to adoption.
He arrived at my house on July 3, 1998 and we have been a family since. He is absolutely my best gift ever in the whole world! He doesn't say many words although one he does say is "Dad".
I have always wanted a family which included a husband and children. I have been a foster parent and have decided that even though I have not found the right guy I want my own family. I have been approved to adopt again. This time I will have a sibling group of 2-3 children. I never really thought I could be so fortunate to have sons and daughters, but I will soon. And maybe then the right guy will find us.
A Forever Family
I became a specialized foster parent to a four-year-old little boy named Ian in December 2003. He had been living in a psychiatric unit at a local hospital for six months, when I met him. Ian is an adorable little boy whose smile, bright eyes and fun personality lights up a room. Within minutes of him moving into my house, the cute little guy I had met at the hospital began to show his true colors- the symptoms of his traumatic history of abuse, chaos and neglect.
It broke my heart, to see such an innocent little boy hoard animal crackers because he thought he would never get any more, to hold him when he became so loud and aggressive he was in danger of hurting himself and others and to teach him not to throw food across the kitchen table and swear at me during dinner time.
Ian was a tough little guy, it hasn't been easy, but he has made tremendous progress over the past few years we have been together. He has shown me what resiliency truly means. Without a doubt, he has completed me.
Ian was only supposed to be in my foster home for 3-6 months, but his goal was changed from reunification to adoption soon after he moved in. I could not imagine my life without Ian, so I pursued the adoption track. On November 14, 2005 we legally made our family "a forever family." This year we celebrated our second adoption anniversary!
We Look Forward to Being Grandmothers
Our daughter, Amanda, was born on April 19, 1989. She came home to us on May 9, 1989 at just 20 days old. We had to overcome several obstacles in the adoption process to complete this adoption. We believe it was the first private adoption by a gay/lesbian couple in the state of Minnesota.
Our agency first told Arlene to apply as a single parent, then when we appeared on a local television station two months later, as a "long-term, successful, same-sex couple" the agency contacted Arlene to say she had lied to them about her status. They did not say we couldn't adopt, but that we had to be open about our relationship in our home study. We did that by identifying that we were partners for nine years. Our home study was then approved.
Later, the agency placed an addendum on our home study which, among other things, said "since our relationship was not recognized by the state of Minnesota, there was no guarantee we would stay together long enough to raise a child." Well, duh!! Has anyone seen the divorce rate lately?
As it turned out, Amanda was born on our anniversary and we are still together. She is eighteen now, just started college, and on her way to being an art major. She had one main criteria for her college choice -- that she could live at home. She thinks she has great parents and likes being around us. She is also very active in our church, sings, has a lot of friends, and finished the last two years of high school as a cyber student in a school that had a performing and fine arts program that she loved. Recently, she wrote a paper for her college speech class about how gays and lesbians make better parents.
Go figure .......
We love her dearly and feel absolutely blessed that God put us all together. We look forward to being grandmothers.
Jacquie and Arlene
A Very Happy, Two-Mommy Two-Baby Boy Family
In February 2006, our advocate from Adoptive Network Cleveland got word of a 6-week-old special needs baby boy who was ready for placement, from the hospital, in a foster home. We were lucky enough to have gotten our foster care home license that very day.
The baby had multiple medical problems and several potential surgeries and therapies, but we knew we could handle this. I was a former special-ed teacher and my partner worked so I could stay home with him.
We went to the hospital to talk with the doctors and meet our new foster baby. We met him and fell in love, then, elated but nervous, we left to return the next day to take him home. I held my sickly little baby boy. I did not conceive, nor carry him, but I already loved him.
In July 2007, when our social worker did her monthly visit to our home she asked if we were ready to reopen our home to potentially take new children. Jacob was 18 months old and starting to walk. He was still tube fed, but doing much better. So we nervously agreed. Little did we know that she would call back THAT DAY with a 15-day-old baby boy in need of placement! We picked him up, the next day, from the county hospital and he's been with us since.
Now it is November 2007 and our boys are thriving. Jacob is walking and running, and turning 2 next month. He is a genuine miracle and has beaten all the odds of his predicted outcome. The baby is almost 5 months old, eating like it's going out of style and hitting his developmental milestones right on time. We're not sure if the baby will be available for adoption, but he has quickly bonded with us and we hope to adopt him.
We are a very happy, two-mommy two-baby boy family. I stay home with our sons and my partner Karen goes to work. She happily says that "I have a job, Jennifer is the one who works!
That's our story. One of challenges, uncertainty, hope, and the love of our sons that existed even before the moment we met them.
Our Adoption Adventure
On November 09, 2006 I received an urgent email from my partner, Stan. "The agency just called. How would you like to be the father of a little girl?"
That marked the beginning of the end of our adoption adventure and the beginning of the beginning of our parenthood! I call it an adoption “adventure” but in reality our experience adopting a child was probably about as mainstream and uneventful as possible.
Stan and I had been together for six years before we really got serious about being parents. We deliberated and investigated the adoption possibilities for about a year and finally decided on a domestic adoption agency and submitted our application in Sep 2005. We spent the next eight months filling out the paperwork and compiling our family portfolio. We officially entered the “family waiting pool” the day after Memorial Day 2006. We wanted at least one more three-day weekend at the beach. We waded in that pool for five months until a very brave woman chose us to be the parents of her new born and we got the call from the adoption agency!
Two days after Stan's email, we met our three-week-old daughter-to-be at a foster family’s home. Our anxiety at the time was compounded by the “hiccups” in the process. We had just passed the one-year expiration for some of our adoption paperwork and that had to be renewed before we could become parents.
We were also anxious about the fact that we were getting a daughter. The agency told us that statistically we were likely to get a boy, which we were prepared for. We are both boys, the dog is a boy…its easier to add another boy to the family, right? Then, oh-boy it’s a GIRL.
That was just about one year ago that we brought this little girl home. In that year, the anxiety has faded as the love has grown and as our little girl has made herself the light in the length of our days.
Two Dads and the Baby Who Arrived in One Month
Just like any other prospective adoptive parents, Tom and Ken participated in an adoption agency orientation, completed the home study found an attorney and prepared for the wait. But they didn't wait long.
"Amazingly, 2 1/2 weeks after engaging our attorney at the beginning of November 1999, we were put in contact with Emma's mom," Tom said, "and 1 1/2 weeks later, Emma was born. We were not expecting things to happen so quickly since we had originally anticipated this process to take 1 to 2 years."
After their first visit to HRC FamilyNet, Tom and Ken wrote in two weeks ago to share their experiences and offer an addition to our growing list of lesbian- and gay-friendly adoption agencies: The Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services, located in Los Angeles.
Tom and Ken enjoy the benefits of a network of the "Pop Luck Club" - a growing group of single and coupled gay parents and prospective parents started two years ago by a Los Angeles-based psychologist. "We get together once a month for a picnic at a local park until the weather gets cold, and then we move it indoors," said Tom.
The Pop Luck Club offers peer support, which proves important for many parents. It provides a place for sharing resources: everything from swapping the names of attorneys and judges to insights on the best car seats. But, above all, Emma's dads see the club as a long-term commitment for the children involved. Emma will have many opportunities to get to know other kids in families like hers as she grows.
Tom and Ken consider themselves fortunate to live in a welcoming, albeit reserved, neighborhood. When they moved into their home several years ago, a neighbor stopped by to introduce himself and commented that the nice thing about the neighborhood was that "people keep to themselves." This description turned out to be accurate for a time. But, since Emma has entered their lives, that has all changed. "We feel a closeness to the community that we didn't have before," said Ken.
There have been political events that have touched their lives as well. Just weeks before Emma was born, Gov. Gray Davis lifted the ban on adoptions by unmarried couples; and when Emma's joint adoption was finalized in October 2000, the State of California issued a certificate that recognized the three of them as an official family.
On Dec. 6, Emma will celebrate her first birthday. Looking back, her dads describe the past year as "everything we could have ever hoped for, and more." As for the future, they have started the process all over again. Emma may soon be a big sister.