Category Archives: LGBT

Second Parent Adoption: LGBTQ Edition

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What is Second Parent Adoption?

As defined by the Human Rights Campaign, “a second-parent adoption allows a second parent to adopt a child without the “first parent” losing any parental rights. In this way, the child comes to have two legal parents. It also typically grants adoptive parents the same rights as biological parents in custody and visitation matters.”

Very often people hear of second parent adoption when referring to step-parents adopting their spouse’s children from previous relationships. However, second parent adoption can occur for other parents as well.

What does Second Parent Adoption mean for LGBTQ couples?LGBT ISTOCK - LGBT FAMILY 2 (1) cropped

Second parent adoption gives the same parental rights to both parties in same-sex parenting. Take for example a lesbian couple. One is pregnant and gives birth to their child through a variety of avenues such as artificial insemination. The other does not have biological ties to the child in such a case, but through second parent adoption would have the rights of the biological parent.

The HRC explains… “for same-sex couples, it is often the case that there is only one legal parent even though two people may equally parent the child and think of themselves as co-parents. This is because the status as a legal parent is automatically conveyed to the parent who has a biological connection to a child, such as a biological mom or biological dad. Similarly, while some couples raise an adopted child together, only one of them may have officially become the adoptive parent because some agencies prohibit same-sex couples from adopting together but permit an LGBTQ individual to do so.”

According to FamilyEquality.org:

  • “Parents in legally recognized same-sex relationships can petition for stepparent adoption statewide; relies on access to marriage or relationship recognition in 50 states + D.C.”
  • “LGBT parents can petition for second-parent adoption statewide in 15 states + D.C.”

aa-male-gay-coupleWhile many second parent adoptions with same-sex parents involve a biological tie to the child, it is not always the case. Some states allow one parent to adopt a child they are not biologically related to. Then, the other parent can pursue second parent adoption. Other states allow same-sex couples to go through the process together from start to finish.

See more on standards for each state on this interactive map.

Second parent adoption allows both individuals the same rights as parents.

What is the Process for Second Parent Adoption?

Different states have different laws and procedures regarding second parent adoption. You can find out more about the process of your state here.

Is Second Parent Adoption Necessary or Fair for LGBTQ families?

Many people feel that their marriage/partnership and dedication to the child and home is what makes them a parent, not an official adoption. While many adoption agencies and professionals would agree this to be true, a second parent adoption can ensure the safety and well-being of the child.

In emergency cases that would leave the person who is the legal parent unable to care for the child, their partner would be able to continue caring for the child and retain legal rights as their parent. Second parent adoption also protects the rights of both partners in instances of separation or divorce. Or even the extreme case of death.

Adoptions From The Heart, a non-profit adoption agency headquartered in PA, saw this need first hand. Two same-sex couples hoping to adopt petitioned for the state to allow second parent adoption so that they could pursue a secure adoption through what was already an LGBTQ friendly agency. Of these families, one did end up losing a parent in a horrible plane crash. Thankfully, there were standards in place to keep the children safe with their other parent. You can read more about the couple and their journey here.

Although the label may feel unnecessary and even degrading, it can ensure the stability of your family and home. Second parent adoption is hopefully only the beginning for progressive parental rights for LGBTQ couples.

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Caring for LGBTQ Children and Youth

Adoptions From The Heart is proud to be a supporter of HRC, the Human Rights Campaign, and their All Children All Families initiative that aims to achieve safety, permanency and well-being by improving practices with LGBT youth and families. AFTH is also proud to be a non-profit adoption agency that allows singles, married couples, and LGBT families or singles to adopt through their programs.
2016 HRC Seal
Bryan Samuels, the former commissioner of the U.S. Administration on Children, Youth, and Families said, “Every child and youth who is unable to live with his or her parents is entitled to a safe, loving and affirming foster care placement, irrespective of the young person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” This post will explore and offer advice for families who are caring for LGBTQ children whether those children are biological, adopted or fostered.

Getting Acquainted with the Terminology: A New Acronym

There are a lot of LGBT terms that people may not be familiar with and the HRC has added a new acronym into the mix.
“SOGIE” stands for Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression.
They explained, it is important to ensure the healthy development of SOGIE. A shift of focus from LGBTQ children and youth to a focus on SOGIE of all children is useful for several reasons. Every child and youth has sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, the development of SOGIE is universal, normative and essential to their well-being.

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How to Support and Serve LGBTQ Youth

  • Acknowledge that foster children and youth in your care may be LGBTQ.
  • Examine your beliefs and attitudes that might impact your ability to support LGBTQ children and youth in your care.
  • Understand that being LGBTQ isn’t a “choice” or something you can change.
  • Educate yourself on LGBTQ issues.
  • Know that your acceptance or rejection affects the health and well-being of the LGBTQ youth in your care.
  • Respect the privacy and confidentiality of LGBTQ youth.
  • Apply the same standards to LGBTQ youth that you apply to others for age-appropriate adolescent romantic behavior.
  • Know the dangers and risks for LGBTQ youth.
  • Be an advocate for LGBTQ children and youth.
  • Acknowledge that there’s more to an individual than sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
  • Take advantage of community resources for you and your LGBTQ foster child or youth.
  • Know what it means to be “transgender” and use the term appropriately.
  • Educate yourself on gender dysphoria.
  • Allow transgender youth to express their gender identity.
  • Make room assignments and housing decisions based on the well-being of individual youth.
  • Use young people’s preferred names and pronouns.
  • Avoid assumptions about transgender young people’s sexual orientation.

LGBTQ children and teens have the same needs for acceptance and support from their family, peers and other important adults in their lives as all young people do. LGBTQ children and youth also have to cope with the challenges of social stigma and discrimination. All children and youth need and deserve families to nurture them and help them as they transition into adulthood.

For more insight into these points, visit HRC.

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Child Welfare by the Numbers

Safety

  • Many LGBTQ youth face neglect or abuse from their families of origin because of their sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression. One study found that more than 30% of LGBTQ youth reported suffering physical violence at the hands of a family member after coming out.
  • As a result of lack of acceptance and abuse in the home and at school, a disproportionate number of youth living on the streets are LGBTQ. The National Network of Runaway and Youth Services estimates that between 20 and 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ.

Permanency

  • Many LGBTQ youth (26%) are forced to leave their families of origin as a result of conflictions with their parents regarding their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • 78% of LGBTQ youth were removed or ran away from their foster placements as a result of hostility toward their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Well-Being

  • LGB young adults who reported higher levels of family rejection during adolescence were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, and 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs.
  • 33.2% of transgender youth have attempted suicide.
  • Research suggests that LGBTQ youth in foster care need a range of physical and mental health services as well as educational supports and services, but that they confront barriers in accessing these services because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Adapted for Human Rights Campaign from LGBTQ Youth in Care: Information & Resources.

LGBTQ Organizations and Resources

  • Family Acceptance Project
  • Advocates for Youth
  • CenterLink – The Community of LGBT Centers
  • Gay, Lesbian and Straight Network
  • Gender Spectrum
  • Human Rights Campaign
  • Lambda Legal
  • National Black Justice Coalition
  • National Center for Lesbian Rights
  • National Day and Lesbian Task Force
  • PGLAG: Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
  • Transgender Law Center
  • The Trevor Project
  • Youth Resource

Similar Blogs

http://afth.org/debunking-myths-about-lgbt-parents/

October Book Reviews 2014

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All books purchased by clicking the link in our review will give AFTH a small donation from Amazon.com.  If you are interested in purchasing one of the books in our review please consider buying it through our link to amazon.com.

137759-287559-396x448-MySisterAbbyCoverMy Sister Abby by Allison Barberi – Simple story of a young girl whose family adopts another child of a different race and culture. It briefly touches on how siblings don’t always look alike and that people of different cultures celebrate holidays or birthdays in different ways. It didn’t touch on race, which given the age range this book is intended for is okay but I did feel was a missing piece. The focus of the story seemed to focus on being happy to have a sister to share things with. amazon.com price $8.97 kindle price $5.99

blogger-image--1813170225Yes, I’m Adopted! by Sharlie Zinniger –  I really enjoyed this book right up to the end until the Authors threw in God. I feel this was just an unnecessary addition but probably won’t bother most people.  This is a sweet story with an en empowering message to help adopted children who may feel that different is bad to realize different is just different and different can in fact be very good. I loved the subtle nod to Superman and his being different and adopted – I think that this book would really speak to boys but girls would certainly enjoy it as well. amazon.com price $8.99 Kindle price $1.99

ThisisaBookFor-Parents-01a-thumb-307x448-86229This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids: A Question & Answer Guide to Everyday Life by Danielle Owens-Reid & Kristin Russo– This is a great book to help parents of lgbt kids and also for lgbt kids or adults to read.  While the questions are directed to parents the answers may help lgbt youth feel better about the reactions they may receive or questions that people ask.  This is all new to many people and while it may have taken a long time to come to the conclusion that you needed to come out as lgbt you need to give others the space to ask questions and come to terms with it as well.  Sometimes what sounds like a negative question is just that a question with no malice attached to it more of a information gathering to help the other person process the information.  Each chapter focuses on different aspect of coming out and at the end of each chapter there is a short summary of what was talked about. There are real life stories and scenarios scattered throughout the book that also help make this book more accessible and not just feel like a textbook. amazon  price $15.99 Kindle edition $9.99 

51w1TO5YHYL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Family Medical History: Unknown/Adopted: How a Routine Inquiry Led to Unexpected Answers for an Adopted Woman by Nancy Kacirek Feldman & Rebecca Crofoot –  Many adult adoptees know the pain of not knowing their family medical history and the awkward conversations that can be had at doctors offices when trying to explain that they were adopted.  In fact medical history is a big reason why many adoptees search for their birth parents.

While this is not a particularly well written book it does describe the process and the roller coaster of emotions that are involved with searching for your roots. Nancy tells most of the story from her perspective through narrative, letters, and emails.  Becky, the social worker for the agency that Nancy was adopted through helps fill in some of the legal gaps and letting readers know what is normal and expected along the way.  I thought this book was very well balanced and honest.  amazon price $13.41 Kindle price 3.95

August Book Reviews 2014

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All books purchased by clicking the link in our review will give AFTH a small donation from Amazon.com.  If you are interested in purchasing one of the books in our review please consider buying it through our link to amazon.com.

61rKOPiTrYL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Zero Degree Zombie Zone (Bakari Katari Johnson) by Patrik Henry Bass – Still on my quest to find books with main characters of color that don’t center around sports or aren’t set in the “hood”, I stumbled upon the Zombie Zone.  The illustrations in this book remind me of Captain Underpants, and it will probably appeal to the same audience of Elementary school kids. The difference is that all the characters in this book are African-American. Bakari and his classmates are forced to work together to help save their world from the frozen Zombies that are threatening to invade their planet if they can’t find a special ring.  While some of the books intents (bullying) may be over most kids heads it is still entertaining and fun.  amazon.com price $8.99 kindle price $7.99

9780545399333_p0_v2_s260x420The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Letters to their Younger Selves edited by Sarah Moon –   Uplifting letters from authors to their younger selves.  These letters cover everything from self-acceptance, keep pursuing your dream because it will happen, to stop being a bully and hanging out in parks at night.  For every kid who thought they were weird, different or didn’t know where they fit in this shows that it does indeed get better. I also like the idea of writing to yourself, one of the authors actually wrote a letter to his older self when he was 13 then stumbled upon it later and used it when writing his piece in this book.  What an amazing find and what a great idea.  To see where you are in 10-20-30 years and look back on what you thought was important to ask at that time.   amazon.com price $9.81 Kindle price $9.32 

593176Are We There Yet?: Adopting and Raising 22 Kids! by Hector & Sue Badeau – Sue and Hector Badeau didn’t begin their journey thinking they were going to adopt as many children as they did but somewhere along the way it happened.  In addition to the two biological children they had, Sue & Hector ended up adopting 20 children of all different backgrounds, several of who are severely disabled. Does this make them crazy? Many would think so and reading the book may leave you shaking your head thinking there is no way I could do that! But they did, through love, strength and faith.

 

While this book could have used some editing as it is sometimes clumsy and disjointed its ultimately about the children and the family. There is no sugar coated we all get along and life is just sunshine and roses despite having 22 kids, no there go through ups and way downs, but they make it through.  If nothing else you walk away from this book with hope and inspiration that whatever life dishes out you can make it through, because if they can do it, you can do it too. amazon  price $13.40 Kindle edition $9.99

Tips for Same-Sex Couples Looking into Adoption

LGBT ISTOCK - LGBT men with babyIn February of last year, The Williams Institute released research estimating that 16,000 same-sex couples are raising more than 22,000 adopted children in the United States. Adoption has its difficulties as is, but gay and lesbian couples or singles face some unique challenges. Private and government organizations are making strides to ensure that adoption policies are fair, no matter what your sexual orientation is. If you decide to adopt, the following are some helpful tips to keep in mind.

  1. Find the best fit for your adoption. There are many options with adoption to consider before deciding which to pursue. First you should decide whether you want to go through private or public adoption. Next, are you thinking about adopting an infant or older child? This could determine which form of adoption, private or public, you would like to pursue. Third, you must ask yourself and your partner if you feel willing and able to adopt transracially or if you prefer to adopt a child that is of the same race? Finally, you must decide if you would like an open or closed adoption. If you choose open, how open would you prefer your contact with the birth family to be?
  2. Learn the laws. First you must find out if it is legal in your state for same-sex couples to adopt. Each state differs in their policies for same-sex adoption; The laws can also vary by county. There are laws which allow ‘second-parent adoption,’ a way for a second parent to adopt a child without the ‘first parent’ losing any parental rights. The laws for second-parent adoption vary by state. States which do not allow joint or second-parent adoption could leave couples in a tricky spot because the parent without legal rights could suffer harsh consequences if the partners were to separate. You can research your state’s laws at Lambdalegal.org.
  3. Consider your relationships & community. Adopting a child requires support and in the case of same-sex adoptions when adversity is unfortunately still present, it is crucial that your community and relationships are accepting of you as a couple before you bring another human into your world. Make sure that your relationships and the level of acceptance at work, with co-workers and employers, as well as neighbors, family and friends are comfortable. Look at your town and school districts as well – if you are not comfortable in your environment, it might be a good time to look into moving to an area which is accepting of your partnership & family.
  4. Find ‘Gay-Friendly’ adoption agencies. A good place to start when looking for a Gay-Friendly adoption agency is the Human Rights Campaign’s website. (http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/all-children-all-families-list-of-participating-agencies) The HRC has a list of agencies that have achieved their ‘All Children – All Families’ benchmarks of LGBT Cultural Competency. Another way to check if an agency is ‘gay-friendly’ is to read their mission statement for an explicit antidiscrimination clause about placing children with same-sex couples. The best way to find out about a local agency is to ask for recommendations within the LGBT community.
  5. Get together with a support community. Getting support from a group of like-minded individuals can be very beneficial for same-sex couples looking to adopt. The adoption process and post-adoption placement can be overwhelming. Having a support system made up of individuals who have been through the process before can be very helpful. You can check for support groups run by local adoption agencies, LGBT advocacy groups, and fertility clinics. Support groups and events for your children when they get older can also be very beneficial. You should also consider joining a support group that includes same-sex couples with children so that your child knows that he or she is not the only one who has two moms or two dads and has other families to identify with.

As you can see, there are many things to consider when you decide to adopt as an LGBT couple. We hope that these tips are helpful for you and your partner in the beginning steps of starting your family. We wish you the best of luck on your journey!

January Book Reviews 2014

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All books purchased by clicking the link in our review will give AFTH a small donation from Amazon.com.  If you are interested in purchasing one of the books in our review please consider buying it through our link to amazon.com.

0857007645How to Create a Successful Adoption Portfolio: Easy Steps to Help You Produce the Best Adoption Profile and Prospective Birthparent Letter by Madeleine Melcher- This title is being released January 21, 2014 – For families who are feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of writing an adoption or family profile this book is a great place to start. Pulling information from many resources, particularly from birth mothers themselves, on what women are looking for when they look at these profiles when they are trying to create an adoption plan , this book has a wealth of information.  Very easy to read and follow it touches on all the bases, knowing your audience, remembering the guidelines set forth by your agency or attorney, the importance of photos etc.  This book is a great place to start and makes the task of writing an adoption profile much more manageable. amazon.com price $22.46 kindle price $9.99

81qcOjNt9ALSouls On Ice: True Miracle Stories of Embryo Adoption by Angela Welch Prusia, Joy Steiner Moore, Karen Koczwara, Arlene Showalter & Marty Minchin.– Maria Lancaster, Executive Director and co-founder of the first ever church based embryo adoption agency shares her personal journey, as well as the stories of many families that have been through the embryo adoption process. This book includes the personal journeys of families that have gone through the process,  discussing the pain of infertility and their venture into embryo adoption.

This book is very religious and pro-life, there is a forward written by Governor Mike Huckabee who states “Maria works relentlessly to protect the lives of the unborn. Her efforts to connect families who have remaining embryos after fertility treatments with those who are unable to conceive are incredible. God helps orchestrate every family match in her organization, and the power of his direction in the process is reflected in this new compilation of true stories.”

The stories are interesting and embryo adoption is always a great option for families where the woman is able to carry but not able to conceive. amazon.com $16.26 kindle edition $9.99

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How It Feels to Have a Gay or Lesbian Parent: A Book by Kids for Kids of All Ages by Judith E. Snow – The kids interviewed for this book range in age from seven to thirty-one.  It is interesting to see the differences and the similarities in all of their situations. It seems that most of them were okay with their parents being gay but when they were in elementary school or middle school they were scared their friends would make fun of them. Once the teens hit high school they didn’t care as much but many were selective about who they told. This book could be very valuable to kids whose parents are just coming out or kids who are having a hard time adjusting to their parents being gay. Its also helpful to gay parents to know what may be going on in your child’s head, whether you raised them since birth in a same sex relationship or if this is a new situation. All children go through periods of being embarrassed by their parents for one reason or another but it helps to know what other families went through and that these feelings are normal, and for the kids it helps show them that there are other kids who have walked in their shoes and they made it through and survived, it isn’t the end of the world and you aren’t alone.  amazon  price $30.55 Kindle edition $29.02 kindle rental $8.13

July Book Reviews 2013

ReadAll books purchased by clicking the link in our review will give AFTH a small donation from Amazon.com.  If you are interested in purchasing one of the books in our review please consider buying it through our link to amazon.com.

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You Were Always in My Heart: A Shaoey and Dot Adoption Story by Mary Beth & Steven Curtis Chapman   – This is the reworked story of Shaoey and Dot Bug Meets Bundle.  Same beautiful sweet story but with a new name.  Dot finds Shaoey abandoned and travels with her as she goes to the orphanage and then to her forever family.   amazon.com price $9.35

25339The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz – Sensory disorders are gaining attention and this book provides lists of the common symptoms, as well as it’s possible causes.  It also is a great resource for activities to help children regulate themselves within different situations. It helps parents learn some of the clues that children exhibit and how to respond to their needs.  A good resource for parents of children with sensory integration disorders and autism.    amazon.com price $12.71 kindle price $9.99

imagesGay Parents/Straight Schools: Building Communication and Trust by Virginia Casper and Steven B. Schultz– The authors openly address the specific education realities and needs of lesbian and gay headed families.  They explore why gayness is perceived as such a threat, especially to the education of young children, when it can enrich the world views of children and adults. The book features wise insights from children, teachers, administrators and parents as well as useful strategies to ensure the best education for children. Amazon.com price $ 20.85