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.

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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.

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A Gay Dad Speaks Out Against Trump's Attempts to Discriminate Against LGBTQ Adoptive Parents

Any business that accepts federal funding must NOT DISCRIMINATE says adoptive dad Erik Alexander.

Four years ago we received the phone call that changed our lives forever. We were told that in our own city of New Orleans, there was a newborn baby that needed a forever home. What we were told by the agency would likely take five or more years took mere weeks. We frantically started putting together her nursery and planning for her arrival. She was born 10 weeks early and needed to stay in the NICU to grow and gain her strength and weight before she was released. She was so tiny and delicate. We were almost afraid to hold her in the beginning because of how fragile she was.

Finally, the day arrived that we were able to bring her home and we were thrust into overdrive. We prepared by reading all the baby books and watching the videos, but all that goes out the window when you have a baby in your arms. Our little baby had trouble digesting her formula due to her prematurity. The look in her eyes due to the pain she felt broke our hearts. We felt helpless! All we could do was just try to make sure to do everything on our end to help alleviate any pain she may encounter while feeding her. It was terrible. We would hold her for hours trying to console our hurting baby girl. I remember thinking to myself while she was crying that I would do anything to make her feel better.

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News

New York Will Fight 'Repugnant' Trump Rule on Adoption, Says Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York promises legal action of the Trump administration moves ahead with plans to allow discrimination against LGBTQ adoptive and foster parents

Last week, the Trump administration announced plans to allow adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents — but he may face a legal fight from (former) hometown. In a tweet, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said the proposed move "isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values,— it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home." If the proposal moves forward, he continued. "we'll take legal action to stop it.

Governor Cuomo's office followed up the tweet with a lengthier statement posted to their website:

Once again the Trump administration is attacking the hard-earned rights and protections of the LGBTQ community, this time proposing a new measure that would give foster care and adoption agencies license to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Trump's proposal isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values — it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home. If he moves forward with this rule, we'll take legal action to stop it.

No matter what happens in Washington, New York State is and will continue to be a beacon of equality in this country. Our Human Rights Law and adoption regulations expressly prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community, including when it comes to adoption. I encourage any LGBTQ New Yorker who feels they are a victim of this discrimination to contact the State Division of Human Rights for assistance.

Our message to the Trump administration is simple: there is no place for hate in New York or in our nation, and we will not allow this noxious proposal to stop LGBTQ New Yorkers from becoming parents or providing care to children in need.

Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Gay Chiropractor Explains Why He Came Out to His Patients

After Cameron Call, a chiropractor, came out to his family this past year, he knew he had one more step to take — he had to come out to his patients

Fear is an interesting thing. It motivates when it shouldn't, shows at inconvenient times, and is the author of stories that do nothing but hold us back. I would argue though, too, that fear has some good qualities. I believe it helps us to feel. And I think it can be a great teacher as we learn to recognize and face it.

For years fear prevented me from embracing my truth and accepting a large part of who I am. I know I am not alone in that regard. But for so long my fear convinced me that I was. Fear is what kept me from ever telling my parents or anyone growing up that I am gay. Fear mingled with strong religious teachings, embraced at a young age, which led me to believe that I could cure myself of my attractions to the same gender. And fear is a part of what kept me in my marriage to a woman for over ten years.

Only so much growth and learning can occur when we limit ourselves to our fears. If people never did anything they were afraid to do, life would be incredibly boring and far too predictable. At some point we must face the things we fear and just go for it not knowing what will happen next.

After finally coming out to my ex-wife after ten years of marriage (see previous articles for that story), and eventually telling my family I knew there was one more step I needed to make.

I am a business owner. I am a structural chiropractor and am highly specialized in my field. Nearly four years ago I opened my own clinic, Horizon Chiropractic Center, in Phoenix, Arizona. I poured my whole heart, body, and soul into the creation of my practice and its growth. Opening a business fresh out of school is no simple task and I worked hard to build my practice with close relationships and word of mouth referrals. I established myself as an expert and built a strong reputation as a family man, and my ex-wife and kids were the face of my practice.

I loved and do love every person who has ever come into my office and treat them like family. We laugh together during visits, celebrate wins, cry together, often hug, and cheer each other on regarding various things in our life. That's also a large part of who I am: a people person. I enjoy spending quality time with those I am privileged to help. No one comes in my office and only sees me for 2-5 minutes.

Even though there was so much good that I had built into my brand and reputation fear eventually found its way into my business too. I was afraid of what would happen if people found out the truth. Would they be okay with having a gay chiropractor? Would they still trust me to be able to help them? Of course, the story in my head I was telling myself was much bigger and badder than it needed to be.

When we decided to get a divorce, I felt strongly that I needed to face these fears and begin telling a number of patients the truth of what was happening in my life. I know in reality it is no one's business but my own. However, I felt like I needed to let my patients who had become like family to me truly see me for who I am, and who I always was. And so slowly, case by case, I began to tell a select number of people.

I'll never forget the first patient I told. She had been coming in for years and was bringing her son in to see me who is on the autism spectrum. It was the day after my ex-wife and I decided to get a divorce and she could tell something heavy was on my mind. I eventually came out to her. The first words out of her mouth were "I am so proud of you!" We cried and hugged and it was the complete opposite of what I ever expected. And it was perfect. I felt loved. I felt accepted. I felt seen.

As time went on it got easier. And overall the responses were all completely positive and supportive. Out of all the patients I told and those who found out from other circles, only three stopped coming in to see me. Since coming out, my office has grown tremendously. My reputation hasn't changed. If anything, it's solidified. I can't help but think that part of that is due to finally embracing all of me and allowing others the same opportunity.

I read somewhere once that you never really stop coming out of the closet. And I've noticed that too. Sure, not everyone needs to know; it isn't everyone's business. And I hope that one day we live in a time period where fear doesn't prevent anyone from being seen. I want to contribute to the upward trajectory I think our society is headed of understanding, acceptance, support, and equality.

I would love to be able to say that after coming out publicly I no longer feel fear; but I do. And I think in some ways I always will no matter what. But that's part of life, right? Recognizing fear when we have it but then choosing to move forward out of love – love for others, but maybe more importantly love for ourselves.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Gains Clarity After a Health Scare

A recent health scare helped give Erik Alexander clarity.

Sometimes fear can cripple the mind and hinder ones judgement. Having children of my own, I have come to grips with accepting the things I cannot change and learned to take action when there is no other choice. When it comes to my own personal health, the future and well being of my family gives me all the clarity I need to make the right decision about any kind of health scare.

This episode is dedicated to all the parents out there that are going through or have gone through similar situations.

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Janno Talu, an accountant, and Matthias Nijs, an art gallery director, were born in different parts of Europe. Janno, 39, is from Estonia, and Matthias, 28, is from Belgium. Their paths crossed when the two moved to London, each from their different corners of the European Union.

Janno relocated to London earlier than Matthias, when he was 24, and his main reason for the move was his sexuality. "Although Estonia is considered one of the more progressive countries in Eastern Europe, when it comes to gay rights, it is still decades behind Western society in terms of tolerance," said Janno. "And things are not moving in the right direction." In 2016, same-sex civil union became legal, but the junior party in the current coalition government is seeking to repeal the same-sex partnership bill. "In addition," Janno continued, "they wish to include the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman in the country's constitution. Even today, there are people in Estonia who liken homosexuality to pedophilia, which is why I decided to start a new life in the UK, where I could finally be myself."

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Interested in Surrogacy? Check Out These Bay Area Events This Weekend

If you're in the Bay Area this weekend, two major events are happening that will be of interest for dads-to-be and surrogacy advocates: the Men Having Babies San Francisco Conference, and the SF Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF)

If you're in San Francisco or the surrounding area, clear your calendar this weekend. Two events are happening simultaneously that are significant for dads-to-be AND surrogacy advocates: the Men Having Babies San Francisco Conference, and the SF Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF). For an outlines of both events, check out below.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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