Michigan Adoption Agency Earns Human Rights Campaign Foundation's &quotAll Children _ All Families&q

by HRC Staff

Hands Across the Water Becomes State's First Adoption Agency to Earn Seal for Implementing Fully Inclusive Policies in Working with LGBT Families

Washington - The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, announced today that Hands Across The Water became the first adoption agency in Michigan to earn the All Children-All Families seal of recognition. The Ann Arbor adoption agency earned the honor by meeting the required criteria for fully inclusive policies and practices in working with the LGBT community. The Human Rights Campaign's All Children-All Families initiative provides a comprehensive framework for agencies to establish policies and practices that welcome, support and affirm LGBT foster and adoptive parents. The seal was presented to Kathleen Nelson, LMSW, the Executive Director of Hands Across the Water, for her leadership in establishing a truly welcoming, supportive agency for all families.

"By earning this seal I am more confident than ever that we are prepared to assist LGBT clients build their families and meet their needs as parents, as well as expand the pool of parents for the children who need them. And that is our ultimate goal," shared Ms. Nelson.

"We are delighted to recognize Hands Across The Water for removing barriers to qualified LGBT adoptive parents and for placing a high value on our families. It is wonderful that LGBT individuals and couples in Michigan have a trusted resource to turn to when pursuing adoption," added Ellen Kahn, HRC's Family Project Director.

Across the country, the issue of adoption by same-sex couples is heating up. In Virginia, the State Board of Social Services recently voted to strip legal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation, religion, age, gender, disability, political beliefs and family status from final rules governing licensed adoption and foster care agencies. In April Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law SB 1188, which gives preference to married couples in the adoption process - essentially excluding same-sex couples and narrowing opportunities for single adults who wish to provide a loving home to children. In a bit of good news, the Arkansas Supreme Court in April upheld a lower court ruling that a law prohibiting adoption by unmarried couples who live together violates the Arkansas Constitution. In Washington, D.C., Representative Pete Stark (D-CA) reintroduced legislation, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, to address discrimination against qualified, licensed LGBT foster and adoptive families nationwide.

The "All Children - All Families" initiative, launched in 2007 by the HRC Family Project, aims to promote agencies and policies that welcome LGBT foster and adoptive parents. The program seeks to enhance LGBT competence among child welfare professionals and educate LGBT people about opportunities to become foster or adoptive parents to waiting children. ACAF has 50 participating agencies across the country, and has awarded 13 seals of recognition. More information about the initiative can be found at www.hrc.org/acaf.

Hands Across The Water will have a booth at Motor City Pride on Sunday June 5. Staff will share information about adoption and foster care options as well as their LGBT adoptive parent support group. The All Children - All Families Seal of Recognition will be presented to HATW on June 9 at 11:30 a.m. at the Arbor Brewing Company.

Hands Across The Water (HATW) is a non-profit, COA Hague Accredited, licensed child-placing agency in the State of Michigan. We are the only adoption agency in Washtenaw County that specializes in international and domestic adoptions services.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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