I’m a foster parent, and I think it should be harder to adopt a child from foster care. I don’t think just anyone should be allowed to adopt children, especially children who have suffered through the trauma that comes with being separated from their parents. Parenting is hard, and foster parenting is extra hard because you have to throw yourself into loving a child, and helping a child heal, even though they may go back to their parents one day.
So yes, I think it should be harder, not easier, to adopt from the child welfare system.
But you know what doesn’t have any impact on whether you’re able to parent a child from foster care? Whether or not you’re LGBTQ. A hungry baby at 4 a.m. does not care if you’re a man who has sex with men. She just wants a bottle and to be rocked back to sleep. A 5-year-old with strep needs penicillin, not two parents whose sex life is strictly penis-in-vagina. And a trans 14-year-old whose parents have kicked her out of the house for being her authentic self really does need loving trans role models to help her heal from her trauma, and ultimately thrive. For most kids, the sexual orientation of their adoptive parents is totally irrelevant. But for some kids, it’s really important that they see that people like them can grow up into happy, healthy, loved adults.
But Republicans in Congress don’t agree with me. They want to make it easier for states to keep LGBTQ parents from adopting from the child welfare system. On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee passed an amendment that would cut adoption funding for states that penalize adoption agencies who don’t work with families that conflict with the agency’s “sincerely held religious beliefs or convictions.” In other words, if your state doesn’t allow Catholic and Evangelical agencies to reject potential foster and adoptive parents just because they’re LGBTQ, your state will get less money to help kids in the foster system next year.
And all this, even though we know that LGBTQ kids are over-represented in foster care. They are there because they’ve experienced abuse or neglect, and often they’ve also experienced an added layer of homophobia or transphobia from their parents or communities. They are more likely than their peers to have attempted suicide and to have experienced violence. But sure, let’s just move those kids into the home of someone who thinks homosexuality is wrong. That is definitely a great idea that will never ever go wrong.
I know a lot of really great LGBT foster and adoptive parents. These are parents who love their kids like crazy, and bend over backward to be supportive and loving of kids and parents, who drive their kids dozens of hours a week to and from treatments and therapies and breakdancing lessons and fencing camp. They kiss boo-boos and read stories, get IEPs and go shopping for prom dresses. It is INFURIATING to me that my government would incentivize discriminating against these parents who are working so hard to do right by kids who have suffered so much, through no fault of their own.
If anyone is interested in ways we might find better foster and adoptive parents, I have lots of ideas. I am all about thinking longer and harder about just what kind of home is a safe place for a child who has been taken away from their parent. But this amendment isn’t about child welfare. It’s about punishing LGBTQ people.