Expert Advice

Your Foster Questions Answered by a Foster Expert and Foster-Adopt Dad

We asked our Instagram community to send us their questions about becoming a foster dad — and Amara's Foster Care Services Supervisor Trey Rabun responded.

Dad Trey Rabun (read his story here) recently shared his experience as a foster Expert and a foster dad with our Instagram community via a question and answer session.

Read Trey's responses below.

How much does it cost to become a foster dad?

Some agencies may charge a fee (typically a few thousand or less), but all states and most agencies don't charge for the foster parent licensing process. There will be some legal and attorney fees should you adopt a foster child. These range from $800-$1200 in the Seattle area.

How long will we have to wait till a child is placed with us?

This depends. There are typically more foster parents licensed for younger children (birth to 5) so your wait will be slightly longer for these children compared to an older or teen child. Given that, most states have a shortage of foster homes so at my agency most families get placed within 4-6 months regardless of their age parameters; with a significant number getting placed a lot quicker! Keep in mind, it takes anywhere from 3 months to a year+ to get licensed and approved before placement can occur.

Will we face discrimination as gay men?

I think a lot of this depends on local city and state laws and the general climate around LGBTQ acceptance where you live. Granted, homophobia sadly occurs everywhere but more and more localities have passed anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBTQ families in this process; including most "blue" states and cities.

How hard is it to adopt through the foster care system?

There are children in the foster care system who currently need an adoptive home after a judge has decided returning home is not a safe, viable option. These children tend to be school age or older and may have complex needs. Otherwise, the primary goal of foster care is to reunify children with their family so if you want a younger child and/or a child with lower needs you will need to be able to support reunification and the idea of having multiple placements before adopting a child/ren.

What can I do to ensure that we're agreeable candidates to be foster parents by an agency?

Do your research and check out websites to learn more information about the process and requirements. The requirements are there to ensure you will be a safe and stable home to a child in need. It will be an intrusive process, but the requirements aren't too burdensome. You can be single, a renter/live in apartment, and make a modest income. Also, HRC has a list of agencies that they work to ensure they are LGBTQ welcoming and affirming.

What do we have to do to get started?

After you've completed the things in the previous question, you need to choose what private or state agency you' like to work with for this process. Attend a few information sessions to learn more about that agency and their applicant and licensing process. I would also talk to current foster parents to get the "inside scoop" about the various agencies. Typically, all you need is the application to get things started. They will work with you to get your home ready and take you through the steps.

What does it take to become a foster dad?

After applying, you will begin the home study process. This will include writing a personal questionnaire detailing aspects of your life, both past and present. You will also be interviewed by a social worker who will also do a home inspection of your home to ensure its up to safety standards. You'll get a medical report from your doctor, have friends and family provide references, submit a financial statement, and get a background check completed. This process will culminate in the home study document which dictates the parameter of the child/ren you are approved to parent (age, sibling set, level of special needs, etc.)

How likely are we to be considered?

In theory, if you were able to get licensed you should be getting the same opportunities for placement consideration once approved. However, worker bias is a real thing but it's very hard to know when it has occurred since it's often subtle, and not blatant homophobia. Given that, in my eight years of doing this work there are two cases that come to mind where this occurred, so it happens, but not at a high rate. (Disclaimer: I live and work in socially liberal area so my experience may not be reflective of other communities in my state or other states).

Is it harder to become a foster dad if you're single rather than having a partner?

Yes and No. At my agency, our single parents go through the same process as partnered families, but we do ask more questions about a support network and who will play that role when a child is placed. There may also be times when the state is only seeking a two-parent home for some children like large sibling sets or children with high special needs.

As a foster dad yourself, what's the most important advice you have for fellow dads-to-be?

Be patient and to focus on being there for children in need. There will be times when things get frustrating and challenging and you may doubt yourself, that's normal! Between the paperwork and home study process to managing the needs and all the appointments of your foster children, it can be taunting at times. However, for every down moment there are a million ups and those are what keeps you going! There is nothing like experiencing the first time a child sleeps through the night because they finally feel safe in your home or a child who was two grade levels behind when they move in, but now are reading at grade level.

Who are the professionals involved in a foster journey? Who will I be dealing with daily?

You will work with a social worker to get licensed and approved. The children in your home will have a state assigned social worker that you'll interact with frequently. If you work with a private agency, you may also have a caseworker assigned to work with your family and provide extra support. Contact with the social worker and caseworker could range from daily, weekly, or monthly depending on the current level of support you need. At minimum, your social worker is legally required to come see you and the child monthly. The child could also have a Child Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)/Guardian At Litem (GAL) and/or a lawyer. There most likely will also be at least one service provider like a therapist, tutor, school counselor, etc. for your child that you will deal with as needed.

Show Comments ()
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Finding My Kids

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of excerpts from Joseph Sadusky's new book, Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad. The book contains many stories about my life as a dad, as well as lessons learned, and we're excited to share several excerpts from the the book over the course of the next few months. Read the entire series here.

I decided pretty early in my process that I wanted siblings, preferably boys. Siblings, because I figured that being adopted by a single gay guy might bring up plenty of stuff, so at least the kids would have each other to share the experience with. Also, a sibling set gave each kid a built-in playmate who—to the relief of both of us—would not always need to be me. Boys, because I was thinking ahead to puberty. I know my limits, and the idea of dealing with a teenage girl—or, worse, girls—made my hair stand on end and skin break out in a cold sweat. At least with boys, I could rely on the fact that I had once been a teenage boy. Which was basically a five-year nightmare—so if nothing else, it gave me a baseline for how to help my kids have an opposite-of-dad experience.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

Why Limit Yourself to One Path to Parenthood? These Dads Pursed Two!

Pursuing foster care and surrogacy at the same time wasn't easy — but Travis and Jay learned important lessons about both along the way.

Travis, 36, and Jay, 29, met nine years ago in a gay bar in Riverside, California. Both work in the medical device industry and in June 2018, they were married in front of friends and family, and their 19-day-old son through foster care.

To say June 2018 was a big month for Travis and Jay would be an understatement. They became first-time dads to four-day-old Kathan, and solidified their union with marriage. When the wedding part was over, the new dads were able to focus all their attention on their new family. It had been almost 18 months since they began the process of becoming foster parents till they were matched, and while they were waiting, they began to get anxious.

Keep reading... Show less

Your Foster Adopt Questions Answered by a Foster Adopt Dad

We asked our Instagram community to send us their questions about being a foster dad — and an experienced foster dad responded.

Dad Joseph Bostick (read his story here) recently shared his experience as a foster and adoptive dad with our Instagram community via a question and answer session - did you feel nervous at the beginning? How did you start the process? Did you always know that you wanted to foster older kids?

Read Joseph's responses below.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Family Stories

These Dads Had 'Twins' — Just Four Months Apart

Angel and Dan's wanted twins, without the complications of a twin pregnancy — so they worked with two separate surrogates at once.

If you have ever been out late on a Saturday night, you may have high hopes of meeting a handsome stranger, but you probably wouldn't expect to meet your future husband. Angel Mario Martinez Garcia, 45, surely didn't when, five years ago on a very early Saturday morning in Barcelona, he casually approached Dan's Mouquet, 40, and asked him, over many gin and tonics, what he wanted out of life. The nightlife setting notwithstanding, Dan's told Angel he ultimately wanted a quiet life, with a partner and children.

Keep reading... Show less

Gestational Surrogacy Legalized in New York State

The Child-Parent Security Act, which legalizes commercial surrogacy in New York State, was included in the 2020 New York State Budget signed by Governor Cuomo

Yesterday, a years-long battle about the state of compensated gestational surrogacy came to an end in New York when the Governor signed into a law the Child-Parent Security Act in the 2020 as part of the state budget.

The effort stalled last year after opponents, including several Democrats, successfully argued that the bill didn't go far enough to protect women who serve as surrogates — even though it included a surrogate "bill of rights," the first of its kind in the country, aimed at ensuring protections.

"Millions of New Yorkers need assistance building their families — people struggling with infertility, cancer survivors impacted by treatment, and members of the LGBTQ+ community," the Family Equality Council said in a statement about the victory. "For many, surrogacy is a critically important option. For others, it is the only option. Passage of the Child-Parent Security Act is a massive step forward in providing paths to parenthood for New Yorkers who use reproductive technology, and creates a 'surrogate's bill of rights' that will set a new standard for protecting surrogates nationwide."

Opponents, led by Senator Liz Krueger, had once again attempted to torpedo legalization efforts this year by introducing a second bill that would legalize surrogacy in New York, but also make it the most restrictive state in the country to do so. "A bill that complicates the legal proceedings for the parents and potentially allows them to lose their genetic child is truly unfortunate," said Sam Hyde, President of Circle Surrogacy, referencing to the bill's 8-day waiting period. He also took issue with the bills underlying assumptions about why women decide to serve as a surrogate. The added restrictions imply that "they're entering into these arrangements without full forethought and consideration of the intended parents that they're partnering with," he said.

The bill was sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman, an out gay man who became a father via surrogacy, and Assemblymember Amy Paulin, who has been public with her experiences with infertility.

"My husband and I had our two daughters through surrogacy," Holyman told Gay City News. "But we had to travel 3,000 miles away to California in order to do it. As a gay dad, I'm thrilled parents like us and people struggling with infertility will finally have the chance to create their own families through surrogacy here in New York."

"This law will [give intended parents] the opportunity to have a family in New York and not travel around the country, incurring exorbitant costs simply because they want to be parents," Paulin said for her part. It will "bring New York law in line with the needs of modern families."

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Just Like Dad: Ways My Kids and I Are Alike

Joseph Sadusky recounts the ways he and his adopted sons are cut from the same cloth.

Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of excerpts from Joseph Sadusky's new book, Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad. The book contains many stories about my life as a dad, as well as lessons learned, and we're excited to share several excerpts from the the book over the course of the next few months. Read previous installments here!

Keep reading... Show less
Expert Advice

4 Tips for Single Gay Dads Raising Daughters

Here are some ways to create a safe space for your daughter to discover who she is, with you by her side.

There's nothing quite like father-daughter relationships, and when it comes to single dads, your little girl likely holds a very special place in your heart. From the moment she's born, it's as if you can see every moment of her life in front of you, from her first steps to walking her down the aisle at her wedding. You'll be the first man she'll know and talk to, and you'll be her biggest example of what a loving man looks like. She'll come to you for advice on how to navigate challenges, be independent, treat others and grow into herself.

Your relationship with your daughter may be shaped by your personal history, whether you've been through a difficult divorce or breakup, you've transitioned out of a straight relationship, or you made the courageous decision to pursue surrogacy on your own. Whatever your situation is, studies have shown that children with involved fathers excel more in school and have fewer behavioral issues in adolescence.

Keep reading... Show less

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse