Since U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan struck down a Mississippi law banning same-sex parents from adoption this past February, no state currently has restrictions on the books that specifically prohibit same-sex couples from adopting or becoming foster parents. For anyone who cares about finding permanent homes for the thousands of children who need them, this should come as welcome news.
Those opposed to LGBTQ parenting, however, have yet to put away their pitchforks.
Despite the law, same-sex couples are facing discrimination by adoption agencies in states across the country. Just this month, for example, a couple in Bozeman, Montana alleged their application to become foster parents was deliberately slowed by state employees on account of the couple’s sexuality. The couple was also reportedly subjected to homophobic slurs.
Our elected leaders in some states aren’t making the process any smoother for same-sex parents, either. Last year, a bill in Michigan was signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder that allows adoption agencies to refuse working with same-sex couples. A similar measure failed in Alabama earlier this year, but nonetheless enjoyed widespread support from the state’s political elite. Efforts in other states to legalize discrimination against LGBTQ families are sure to come.
Moments like these weigh on the conscience; yes, we have marriage equality and the right to adopt in all fifty states. What does legal equality matter, though, if adoption agencies and state elected leaders are still doing everything in their power to stand in our way?
Tyler Davis’s article in the Chicago Tribune this week, however, was a healthy reminder that there are many more people working to break down barriers to LGBTQ parenting than create them. The article highlights the work of a local nonprofit called Let It Be Us, which seeks to help children find homes within the Illinois foster care system. The group doesn’t work exclusively with LGBTQ parents, but has recognized the opportunity within our community to help children in need find housing placements:
“Across the country and especially in Illinois, we just don't have enough people who have stepped forward, and we think that in the [LGBT] community there are people who would be good parents," said the group’s founder, Susan McConnell, according to Davis’s reporting.
This is particularly true since LGBTQ youth are so overrepresented in our country’s homeless population and foster care system, and often have a more difficult time finding placement in a family accepting of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Let It Be Us has begun working with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to provide workshops to LGBTQ people in the state who are interested in foster care. Over 100 LGBTQ people attended the first workshop held in July, which matched these potential parents with adoption agencies. Another has been scheduled for October.
Here’s hoping more states follow Illinois’s lead. It should be all of us, not just Let It Be Us, working to place children in need in loving LGBTQ homes.