Adoption Agency Pioneers for Gay Couples

Image When the words “Gay and Adoption” are brought into one sentence, what comes to your mind? Do you find yourself burdened with the memories and battles of gay activism? Or do you picture yourself battling a panel of social workers before a court defending your right to have children? Well it’s not as difficult as you might think; one local agency (Families First) aims to be the local pioneer encouraging the LGBTQ community in adopting children. The agency’s local office handles cases in the central valley’s tri-county area.

 In a quest to find answers for local the LGBTQ community, I spoke with several private adoption agencies as well as Fresno County. I was fortunate enough to interview with a few LGBTQ parents who have taken in orphaned children.  While researching this piece I ran across a website (California Kids Connection) featuring children seeking family placement. Seeing the video footage of the children solicited something that provoked a menagerie of emotions within me. At this site I found the children to all be unique and yet they all shared one huge common factor, and there was a urgent desire to find someone to love them. Some with disabilities, others with brothers and sisters, babies, teens, and todlers, all of which are completely healthy and smiling. The effect left me in tears either way.

   I spoke with a representative of Families First Inc. and found them to be helpful and optimistic in regards to the placement of children with the LGBTQ community. It was stated that Fresno County is very helpful in placing children with foster and permanent adoptive homes. The goal here is to provide a loving healthy home for the kid, not to debate on the parent’s sexual orientation. Here are some of the questions that were asked with the responses and references that were given. 

Interview with Families First

Does using a private agency verses going through the county have an impact on whether or not a child placement is made for the LGBTQ community?

Ideally no, but there are cases where you might find yourself with a county social worker who would not share the same views of those of someone at a private agency such as ours. We go to great lengths when meeting with the potential parents. There are standard regulations and requirements that both the County and Private agencies follow in regards to a family placement. When it comes to personal opinions you chance it with the county and if you’re assigned to a social worker who is pro or against gay adoption.  Many private adoption agencies go beyond the regulated standard to ensure a great placement for our children.  

Does the agency have any conditions with one or both partners/applicants that are HIV positive?   

No there isn’t an issue in regards to HIV positive parents unless they are unable to perform the necessary duties physically. There are laws out there from the ADA that regulate Adoption Agencies from banning potential parents that are HIV +. (See ADA act appendix A) 

 Do you have an estimate of the amount of LGBTQ youth that are waiting for an appropriate home?   

No, many of the children are not at an age where they identify with being gay or not. Most agencies pool from the tri-county area. There is a Wrap Around Program for older teens in Families First Organization. Interviews are set up at later time to discuss the LGBTQ youth Issues. (See Part 2) released later next week

 Do you have an estimate of LGBT families/people who are currently foster parents or adopted children in Fresno County?   

Fresno has a large amount of LGBT Families that are providing Foster and Adoptions. Fresno has been really good with the LGBT community in regards to adoption, and is very supportive of the LGBT community. Statistics are provided on a larger scale, national and statewide and readily available at http://www.law.ucla.edu/williamsinstitute/publications/FinalAdoptionReport.pdf  

 What is your agency currently doing to attract LGBT individuals and families?  

We set up a booth at the Rainbow Pride festival 2007, and joined the CCA.   Families first is a pioneer in putting out the green flag for the LGBT community here in Fresno Madera, and Tulare Counties.   

What difficulties do LGBTQ youth face in traditional homes?  

The same difficulties that any LGBT would have in any home, except for the fact that in their new homes they are surrounded by loving people who want them to be there, to share their time and lives with these children.  There is damage from the child’s past certainly, it is uncertain where the blame lies, though difficult times do come when fostering or adopting children, the joy shared is reward enough of a payoff.  

What do you find is the major reason LGBTQ youth are placed in the foster/adoption system?  

There was no specific answer to this question, but it was written in several articles nationwide that most parents would not kick their children to the streets because they are gay. Sometimes it’s the destructive lifestyle that elicits behavior that wind some LGBT youth in a homeless state. There are deeper rooted issues than just being gay. Their sexuality may just be the superficial obvious characteristic that lands the blame.  

  In Interviewing the families that have been placed I have found that the experience was not nearly as difficult as you might think. There were no huge debates or court trials, no huge activism that resulted in chaotic discord, just simple happy smiling families.  

 

Are there problems? Yes. Is it difficult in dealing with abandoned children? Absolutely. The fact still stands; these are issues that all families deal with. These children are given something that many children worldwide are not….A second chance.  

 

Joshua Cary 

 Journalist – GayFresno.com  

Be sure to Read part 2 of the Gay Adoption Article which will be posted next week. I would like to interview teens that are in foster care or part of the LGBTQ community and are looking for family placement.

 If you are a parent and would like to share your experience in adopting your child please contact me or make a comment below, we would love to hear your voice.

 If you or a friend would like to find out information about adopting a child please visit or talk to a member of the Families First Inc. organization. Contact information is listed below:

 (559) 248-8550
Families First Inc.  
www.familiesfirstinc.com
7080 N Marks Ave # 104, Fresno – CA


LINKS TO SITES REFERENCED

City of Fresno
Local adoption agency listing

Fresno County Fresno Human Services division for Families and Children

California Kids Connection – A Searchable database listing children who are available for adoption 


CNN – recent article posted on gay adoption

California StateChildren and Family Services for Adoption 

 

UCLA LAW State and Nationwide statistics reports


APPENDIX A

ADA legislation states: 

The ADA explicitly prohibits discrimination based on HIV infection, and, as a result, adoption agencies may not categorically reject individuals as prospective adoptive parents based on HIV. The law protects individuals with HIV disease, both symptomatic and asymptomatic; persons who are regarded as having HIV, whether they have the disease or not; and persons who have a known association or relationship with an individual who is HIV-positive. The question often arises as to whether an agency may exclude a person with HIV because that person allegedly poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others. The U.S. Department of Justice has taken the position that "in almost every instance, the answer to this question is no." Interpretations of the ADA require that "direct threat" be shown in relation to the risk of HIV transmission in the course of providing the service. Considerations related to quality of life or anticipated life span have not been viewed as constituting a "direct threat" to health or safety. As a result, agencies may not reject individuals on the basis of HIV simply because they believe that these individuals will be unable to provide for children in a "permanent" way.

 

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