Adoption & Foster Care Stories
Read first person accounts from those impacted by discrimination in the child welfare system, and who would benefit from passage of the Every Child Deserves a Family Act.
“As a person of faith, I cannot agree with those who oppose this legislation based on freedom of religion. Faith calls us to love, to put the needs of another before our own. Allowing loving LGBTQ families to open their homes to foster children is a blessing to all involved… and should never be illegal.”
From trying to get fertility treatments to finding housing, [Charise and Erica] have been literally turned away at the door. The recent passage of Oklahoma Senate Bill 1140 promotes this type of discrimination, with dangerous anti-LGBTQ statues that allow publicly-funded adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ prospective parents, single mothers and interfaith couples, among others.
"Family is made in so many different ways. I really thought that my family would be biologically mine and it would be some how 'less than' if it happened any other way. That hasn’t been the case at all. We have found abundant love.... I really feel like Izzy and Isaac were waiting for us all along."
He realizes that any time, their children could have been forced to back to their parents, or they could have faced a homophobic judge. But their family was lucky — their road to adoption was stressful, but legally straightforward.
He recounts not only being shamed for his sexuality, but also forced into following his foster parents’ religious practices and beliefs. During his six years in foster care, Terry was placed with over 20 different families — an experience not unique amongst LGBTQ youth.
“I would just say for any parents looking to adopt, the process at times can seem extremely tedious and it could be hard — the waiting and the process they put you through. But if you want it in your heart it would be beyond anything you can imagine.”
The process of adoption brought Christopher Harris through three different agencies, having faced discrimination at the first two. Although he superseded all requirements — having five recommendation letters and taking additional parenting courses on top of extensive paperwork — Harris often found himself waiting for months to years with no word from the agencies where he had placed all his resources.
"Grandma told us that before she gave the kids up to foster care, she asked her church for help finding these kids a home. No one came forward. When she went back to church and told the pastor that the kids were with two gay men, all of the sudden the church was full of options. But it was too late, Grandma realized that these kids are the kids that Wes and I have been dreaming of..."
Brittany and Jessica are still interested in adopting a child from foster care. But despite helping overturn the state’s ban on same-sex adoption, Mississippi lawmakers doubled-down on discrimination in 2016, passing HB1523, a sweeping “license to discriminate” law that authorizes Mississippi child welfare providers to refuse to work with LGBTQ prospective parents.
“As long as I can remember, I have been in DCF care….My mother was amazing. I remember always wanting to tell her that I was gay but just couldn’t muster the courage to. We had one problem though. Money. Every month, on the last week, we would go out to every church we could to get food to last us until the next food stamp payment. To this day I can't stop feeling like I'm not allowed inside a church because of who I am.”
“I grew up around openly LGBTQ Black foster children and I saw first hand how people treated them. I was fearful of becoming one of those foster children that were forced into treatment facilities due to being open about who they are. For years I told my social workers that I was Christian to protect myself from Islamophobic foster parents…”
The Nabozny family's adoption success story is a perfect example of the kind of loving family we stand to lose if states are allow to grant a #LicenseToDiscriminate against LGBTQ people in the foster care and adoption system.
“In foster care we try so hard to please everyone as best as we can on top of dealing with any past demons. I always feared I would be kicked out of a household for being who I was or not be able to get adopted. Unfortunately, I never did get adopted, but the independence and confidence I gained from that was definitely helpful for me. I began to come out to my friends and other foster youth and was able to embrace and accept who I was.”
“To this day I can still not figure out why the department thought that it was a good idea to put an LGBTQ youth in a Christian organization that is openly against LGBTQ. While with this organization I felt like I was a prisoner and could not openly be who I was.”
“Even worse was having to join [my foster parents] when they would go on anti-LGBT rants just so I could feel secure in that I wouldn’t be kicked out of their home. My story isn’t all bad. Eventually, I became comfortable in who I was – I made friends in high school who identified on the spectrum. They made me feel safe and helped me to understand that I wasn’t an abomination – I’m just human. “
“Even though my foster mom, who came to be my adopted mom didn’t accept who I loved; I was stronger than everything I went through. I overcame so much to be who I am. I went through a lot of court dates, trial, losing people and gaining people; it wasn’t easy, but it was my life. I wasn’t going to let one more adult ruin it for me.”
“I finally found a home where I can live my authentic self and began loving who I am as a person, not hiding a part of myself that society has deemed wrong. I was placed with my two dads and 6 siblings. My dads showed me what it was like to witness a true marriage and live a normal life, expressing the meaning of what a family was about.”
“A common question in child welfare is “what does normalcy look like?” …. As it pertains to LGBTQ youth, there may not even be a stable household open enough for youth to have these conversations to help themselves figure their life out; or being forced to participate in a religion that admonishes individuals who identify as LGBTQ.”
“Being in foster care is hard enough without tacking on the extra weight of being LGBTQ….there is no curriculum in the state of Nevada’s foster parent training that focuses on how to care for LGBTQ foster youth. For example, my caseworker’s supervisor saw no problems with my caseworker's behavior toward me, openly admitted to not understanding trans issues and refused attempts to have conversations about it. “
“My foster parents did not know how to be supportive, caring, and understanding. When they found out I was gay, they were angry. My foster dad said that I couldn’t be gay in his house. They did not speak to me….It took a while for them to learn, but now they are accepting and loving, and admitted to their faults in the past. I was their first exposure to LGBTQ people.”
“I want the general public to know that LGBTQ youth that are in the child welfare system are just like every other youth that are in the system. We all go through hardships and downfalls, but we are all human. At the end of the day, we just want someone to be by our side, support us, and let us know that we’re worth it; that we’re destined to succeed.”
“Aside from refusing to believe that I was genuinely attracted to the same sex, [my foster mother] also punished me by… Ironically, I would later find out that her actions were not fueled by hate at all and that she herself was also gay. Fearing that the state would remove her foster parent license for influencing my sexuality, she adamantly discouraged me from being vocal or honest about whom I was attracted to.”
“At only two short months of age he’d already had a whole life before we ever entered the picture — beginning with nine months in his first mother’s womb and continuing with social workers, cuddlers, doting nurses and doctors, lawyers and judges who made regular visits to this very courtroom… ”
“No one can prepare you for the rollercoaster ride of parenting but our success is based on always considering our son’s needs first. We partner not only with each other but with teachers and other LGBTQ parents and our ‘Village’ to find solutions that work.”
“The road to adoption is far from easy but definitely worth the trip. We couldn’t imagine our family without our boys.”
“In 1992 Janet Simons and Mary Hynes, two white women, were looking to adopt, and visited me at the orphanage my mom had given me to. Two months later I went home to live with them.”
“After all, we thought, we’re both teachers. We’re organized. We’re patient. If anyone can do this for these kids, it’s us. So, we quickly became a family of seven with an 8, 6, 4, 3, and 1-year-old.”
“When we adopted, Ginger was listed on the home-study as my ‘roommate’ and legally, I was the parent that was adopting. It wasn’t until same-sex marriage became the law of the land, some 8 years later, that Ginger was able to also legally adopt our daughter.”