Every May we take time to lift up and celebrate the wonderful gay, bi and trans foster dads within the LGBTQ community as part of National Foster Care Awareness Month. These parents open up their homes and hearts to one or more of the over 400,000 children in our foster care system each and every year. Without their support, many of these children could find themselves living in group youth shelters, or worse — on the streets.
All across the country, child welfare systems lack enough qualified, competent foster parents to care for all the children that need either permanent or temporary homes, a problem that has only been made worse throughout the pandemic. This is why it is truly shocking that some anti-LGBTQ advocates are so determined to make it harder for queer people to open up their homes to kids in need. In fact, 11 states across the country have passed laws that explicitly allow taxpayer-funded child welfare agencies to discriminate against prospective foster and adoptive parents in our community. A case to be decided this June by the Supreme Court very may well hold up the constitutionality of these discriminatory laws, and allow other states to follow their lead.
To be clear — it remains legal in every state in the country for LGBTQ people to become a foster or adoptive parent. In every state, moreover, there is at least one agency who will work with our community. That said, knowing that this type of discrimination continues unabated in this country — particularly against people who are only trying to add to the rosters of loving households to care for children who have faced neglect and abuse — is hard to stomach. And it makes it all the more impressive that so many queer people become foster parents anyway, refusing to be discouraged by these ridiculous and outdated barriers.
All month long, we'll be bringing you inspiring stories of just a few of these wonderful dads within our community. You'll read about Carlos and Eduardo who, practically overnight, grew to be a family of six after deciding to keep a sibling group of four together. And you'll meet Rick & Julio who became foster dads back in 1994 — but only after fighting for years for their right to do so, making them among the first same-sex parents to foster-adopt in the state of Massachusetts.
And if these dads just so happen to leave you inspired to look into creating or expanding your own family through the foster care system — we've got you covered. We're excited to announce a four-part webinar series debuting this month, that will cover the exciting process of becoming a foster dad as a gay, bi or trans man. Registration for the first, Become a Foster Dad: Overview for Queer Men, taking place Wednesday May 5th, is already live — be on the look out for the others in the coming days on our website and social channels.
We're also working with resourceful foster care experts from around the country — including the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Extraordinary Families and AMARA — to roll out new resources to help guide you on your path to becoming a foster dad. In our "Ask the Expert" video series, for instance, you can find tips for determining if foster care is right for you and here advice on how best to parent a child with a trauma history. Of course, foster parents deserve to be celebrated every month, not just in May. So continue to look for stories, resources, videos and more that showcase the experiences of queer foster parents — and provide all the resources needed for the next generation of future gay, bi and trans foster dads.