Foster/Foster-Adopt

12 Questions Gay Men Should Ask When Considering Foster Care

We asked Family Outreach Specialist Trey Rabun 12 questions prospective gay foster dads will want to know the answers to.

Do you want to become a foster dad? Are you considering creating your forever family through foster-adopt? We spoke with Amara's Family Outreach Specialist, Trey Rabun, and asked him 12 questions that so many prospective gay foster dads want to know. Check out his insightful and invaluable responses below.

#1 What is the first step you encourage prospective foster parents to take?

The first step would be to research private and state agencies to see what avenue is the best fit for becoming a licensed foster home. State agencies tend to have no fees but don't offer the support of a case manager, while private agencies provide a case manager and may include nominal fees. I would also recommend talking to current foster parents to get an accurate sense of the day to day realities of being a foster parent. This will help to ensure you know what you are about to embark on and that it's a good fit for your family. Want to read about other gay men who have become successful foster care dads? Read our feature article here.

#2 What does the foster care training involve? What's the timeline?

It varies by state, but in Washington all foster parents must take a 24-hour training before getting licensed. This training gives an overview of the foster care system and covers topics like trauma/neglect/abuse, cultural needs of foster children, child development, attachment, grief and loss, behavior management, and how foster care might impact your family. Foster parents also need to have a valid First Aid and CPR certification. Most private agencies, including Amara, also have a required training for families who decide to work with them. Amara's training is 6 hours.

In terms of timelines, in Washington it takes about 3-4 months from the time of application to become a licensed foster parent if you work with the state. At Amara, the typical timeline to becoming licensed is 6-9 months. Our process is longer because we spend more time getting to know our families during the home study process so that we have a good understanding of what's needed to support a specific family once foster children are placed in the home.

#3 What kind of paperwork and personal information do potential gay foster dads need to provide the agency?

Prospective foster parents will need to submit an application that consists of basic demographic information. Once they turn in their application, parents will complete a personal narrative/family history document that describes their childhood, relationships with family members, work/educational background, relationship/marital history, experience with children, parenting/discipline style, and desired age/gender/special needs of children they are hoping to foster in their home.

Each applicant will need to get a medical report completed by their primary care physician, and complete one financial document per household detailing the family's general financial health. References from friends and family will also be completed by individuals chosen by the prospective foster dads.

Last, all foster parents will have a background clearance completed on them to ensure they don't have past criminal issues that could prohibit them in becoming a foster family.

#4 How many professionals are assigned to a family, and what role do they each play?

At Amara, each family is assigned a social worker that will write their home study, foster license their home, and provide case management support once foster children are placed in the home. When a family is awaiting placement, they will also work with our child placement coordinator who receives all placement requests and forwards them along to the foster family, as appropriate, based on the type of child the foster parents are seeking to parent.

#5 Who will be your first port of call at the agency if you need anything or have any questions?

Most agencies have someone like me in their recruitment, outreach, or intake department that handles inquiries and questions from prospective foster parents. Once a family submits an application, their first point of contact will be their assigned social worker.

#6 What are the key personal traits that agencies look for in potential foster dads?

During the home study process, agencies will assess prospective foster families to ensure they can provide a secure, safe home for foster children. Some qualities that make foster parents successful are flexibility, openness to learning, good communication skills, stability, organization/structure, and most important the desire to make a difference in a child's life.

#7 What does the home study entail, and should gay dads worry about it?

The home study is an assessment of a family to pre-approve them for foster care and adoption. A family will be assessed to ensure they can provide a safe and secure home for children. Some issues that will be explored include stability in their overall life and relationship with partner (if applicable), emotional health, childhood experiences and relationship with family members, and thoughts about parenting and discipline practices.

The goal of the home study is to gain a better understanding of the applicants and to gain an understanding of what type of child the family is prepared to parent in terms of age, level of special needs, gender, and number of children (i.e., are they appropriate for a sibling set). The home study process can be intimate and explore personal issues, but this is done to ensure we are approving homes that will not add further trauma to foster children. In addition, having past adversities or challenges in life often will not lead to a foster family not being approved. Instead, the social worker will explore how the applicant addressed any significant past issue(s) and talk about how the prospective gay dad handled this adversity and the strengths gained in overcoming the issue(s).

#8 How much guidance do the agency professionals give potential foster dads?

Foster families choose to work with Amara for the extra support throughout their foster care and adoption journey. In addition to the support from your social worker, we have monthly support groups, in-house trainings, and are well connected to community resources that support foster families.

#9 What information will an agency give intended foster parents about the children that are to be placed with them?

Amara provides all the information we get from the state about foster children, with the exception that we can't share some limited birth parent information due to confidentiality. A typical referral of a foster child will have their name, age, gender, racial and ethnic background, whether they are part of a sibling set, and an overview of their overall functioning.

#10 How long should dads expect a placement to take?

The wait time to get placed depends on several factors and can range from a few weeks up until about a year. Typically, families who are seeking to parent young children wait longer than families who want to parent older children. Families who are open to talking in siblings also tend to have a shorter wait.

#11 What can a potential foster parent say "no" to? And will this hurt any future chance of placement?

Foster parents can say no to any child they don't feel they are equipped to parent. This will not hurt the prospect of future placements, because we prefer that a family wait for a more appropriate placement than to say yes to a placement they don't feel fully confident in foster parenting. Families who feel less confident in a placement are more likely to have a disruption, meaning the child moves out of the foster home before anticipated, which is something we to hope avoid given the instability a foster child has already experienced in their life.

#12 How can future gay foster dads-to-be ensure that their agency is gay friendly and affirmative?

Do research online to see how they portray LGBTQ families in pictures and how they talk about working with LGBTQ families on their website. Human Rights Campaign has a program called All Children, All Families and they certify agencies across the country as being culturally competent to work with LGBTQ families (Amara has this certification):

http://www.hrc.org/resources/all-children-all-families-list-of-participating-agencies

The last thing I would recommend is to talk to other gay families to hear about their personal experiences with various agencies.

Trey Rabun graduated with his Master's in Social Work from the University of Washington in 2011 and soon after begun his career at Amara. He also holds a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Hampton University and a Master's Degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Illinois. Trey spent 4 ½ years as a case manager at Amara assessing, licensing, and supporting foster parents and their foster children. In April 2016, he took on a new role leading Amara's efforts in outreach and recruitment of foster parents. Personally, Trey and his partner have been foster parents for about 1 ½ years and currently have a two-year-old foster child. In his free time, Trey enjoys cooking, traveling, and playing with his Pug.

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Dennis McDonough and John Kihm have been together for over eight years and married since May 2015. Becoming dads was always part of their plan. In 2016, they became foster dads and during the following six months after becoming licensed, they cared for nine foster kids.

"We knew that we would be able to help children who were in need, children who were scared and had no where to go and no one to love them," shared Dennis. "We knew that somewhere along the process we would eventually have children who would need our love forever." Currently, the dads have four children, two of which they've adopted.

As this family has welcomed more children, helped reunite others with their biological families, and finalized two of their sons' adoptions, neither dad received any paid paternity leave.

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Popular

"Under Their Spell": Congrats to all the Gay Dads Whose Families Grew in June!

Wishing all of these gay dads whose families expanded in May and June a lifetime of happiness! Congrats to everyone in our community on their recent births and adoptions!


Congratulations to dads Ben and Chris on the birth of their daughter Elizabeth!

Seattle husbands Ben and Chris welcomed daughter Elizabeth, May 18, 2019.

"We started our adoption plans last August an after getting all signed up with our agency, we were so lucky to match after only about a month and with a mom pretty close to us geographically!" shared Ben. "We've loved getting to know the birth mom and to go through this journey together, including being with her for her C-section and recovery."

Although the time in the hospital was exhausting emotionally and physically, the new dads couldn't have asked for better care or more accepting and accommodating medical staff. "When we finally met her and got to hold her, we were both in awe of how perfect she was. We're over the moon and under her spell 👨👨👧❤️"

Congratulations to dads Lance and Trevor on finalizing the adoption of their daughter Ava!

Lance and Trevan met in college in 2004 and knew right away that they were soul mates. "We always knew we wanted to be dads and started our adoption process in 2015." The Santa Monica dads welcomed little Ava into their lives in 2018.

"In our minds and hearts, she was ours from the moment we laid eyes on her," said Trevan. "Signing the final adoption papers was very emotional as it was the last step in a very long process. Seeing the smile on her face and her sweet baby giggles is the best thing about being her dad. She makes it easy and we are so lucky to be her dads."

"Our sweet Ava was worth the wait!"

Congratulations to dads Melton and Thomas on finalizing the adoption of their sons Gabriel and Braiden!

On May 17, Florida dads Melton and Thomas celebrated the adoption of their sons Gabriel and Braiden, who join sisters Summer, Kendra and Ashanti. This loving family was created through foster to adopt.

"They are siblings and have been with us since August 2017," said Thomas. "It's been a long journey we have been on with all the kids. But a sense of relief from all of the court hearings, case manger visits, guardian ad litem visits, but all worth it in the end to be able to serve as advocates for the kids."

"Most of all, adoptions provide permanency which every child deserves."

Congratulations to dads Paul and Ken on the birth of their daughter Charlotte!

A new family of four! Paul and his husband Ken welcomed daughter Charlotte in May and their dog Gigi is already a big fan.

"All we can say is that our journey to fatherhood was a true adventure which ended in the best possible way," said Philadelphia dad Paul. "We feel so blessed to be Charlotte's dads, and are inspired by all the other gay dads who paved the way before us."

"It felt so amazing to hold Charlotte for the first time - truly an awe-inspiring experience. The feelings of love are indescribable. She is a true "rockstar" and we are so proud of her."

Congratulations to dads Ned and James on finalizing the adoption of their son Aiden! 

DC dads Ned and James have been together 8 years and always knew they wanted to be fathers. Although the adoption process talk longer than they expected - about two years - Aiden arrived very suddenly, with less than a week's notice. "We were so excited to expand our family, all the short night and everything are so worth it."

The finalization was an exciting day for the family. "It was surreal, after all the waiting, to know he was official our son," said Ned. The celebrated with a nice lunch, and they're planning for a party with close friends and family soon.

Congrats to this forever family!

Congratulations to dads Ryan and Marcin on the birth of their daughter Lexi!

Baby Lexi joins older brother Liam and their dads couldn't be more thrilled! "Lexi joined our family through open adoption, but it was a pretty unique journey," shared Ryan. "We'd only been waiting three weeks when we got a call at 5pm Saturday that a little girl had been born at the hospital closest to our home and her birthmother had chosen us."

The dads weren't expecting to be matched so quickly and literally had nothing for a newborn. "Our village of friends rallied and bought us everything we needed to welcome her home." Twenty three hours after the initial call they brought her home. "The feeling of wholeness and total love was so intense the first time we held her. We knew she was meant to complete our family."

Congrats to this Houston family!

Congratulations to dads Mike and Sean on the birth of their daughter Emilia!

Mike and Sean always knew they wanted to be dads so they started their adoption journey last September. "It has been an emotional roller coaster until the time we were selected by our birth mom," said Mike. "We are so grateful to our birth mom because of her selfless love of this child made our dream come true, especially during the pride month of June."

"The first time we held our little one, it was love at first sight and we knew that it was all worth it and it was the best feeling in the world."

Congrats to this family of three from Orlando, Florida!

Congratulations to dads Adam and Taylor on the birth of their son Sawyer!

Adam and Taylor live in Lehi, Utah, and they began their fatherhood journey through the foster care system. After four years, they decided they were ready to adopt. Their adoption journey moved very quickly, and within a week they were matched. Baby Sawyer was born six weeks later!

"Having Sawyer has been the best," shared Adam. "She is so perfect and we could not be happier! Knowing that she is ours is something that is overwhelming and so exciting! The emotions that come with the journey are a roller coaster...but when she came there has been piece of mind!"

Congratulations to dads Billy and Joe on finalizing the adoption of their son Caleb!

Billy, Joe and Caleb with mothers / grandmothers and great-grandmothers.

Billy and his husband Joe live in Union Beach, New Jersey, and they recently finalized the adoption of their son Billy. "A friend of mine from high school found out she was pregnant and did not want more children and could not care for him so wanted us to adopt," said Billy.

The dads had let folks know that they were looking to adopt so it was, as they said, a "match made in heaven."

"It was a long journey but we were in close contact; we got to go to all the doctors appointments and I was the first one to hold him, skin to skin, in the hospital when he was born and haven't left his side since."

When the adoption was finalized, it felt like a weight had been lifted off their shoulders and a lot of anxiety melted away. "

When we finally got to the finalization date it was just a weight lifted off her shoulders and a whole lot of anxiety taken. "We were just so happy to know that this beautiful baby boy will be ours forever and always"

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Do We Have a Biological Right to Fatherhood? Absolutely, Says This Gay Dad

Jay Bostick, a gay foster dad, responds to Kevin Saunders' controversial essay "Why This Adopted Gay Man Will Never Have Children"

Editor's Note: Below is an essay by Jay Bostick who eloquently lays out many of the reasons why he and many other readers were upset by a post we ran yesterday by Kevin Saunders titled, "Why This Adopted Gay Man Will Never Have Children." This post clearly touched a nerve! (Check out the ongoing discussion on our Facebook page.) While some of our readers appreciated Saunders' viewpoint, many others felt slighted by his reasoning for not having children, calling him everything from "self-involved," "selfish," and an "insufferable narcissist." Many other readers rightly questioned why Gays With Kids would even run an essay from a man who does not want children on (of all place) a parenting website.

The former point is a matter of opinion, but I'll offer some clarification on the latter. We agreed to run this post for two reasons. First, Saunders' perspective is unique among many adopted gay men. We have run countless essays on this site featuring adopted gay men who, inspired by their own upbringing, decided to give back by opening up their homes to children who need them. Saunders' experience, however, led him to conscience decision not to have children, a perspective worthy of discussion particularly by anyone who has been touched by adoption in some way. Secondly, as a 52-year-old gay man, Saunders is starting to find himself alienated from many in his LGBTQ peer group for his decision not to have kids. Again, we are so much more familiar with the opposite perspective on our page: when they become parents, many gay men find themselves ostracized from the broader, childless LGBTQ community. That the inverse is also starting to become true is a testament to the increase in LGBTQ parents in the United States, and an interesting dichotomy we believed warranted further exploration.

All that said, Saunders' essay is a matter of opinion, and one our readers (nor we) certainly don't have to agree with. This is why we were thrilled to receive this "counterpoint" to Saunders's essay from Bostick. We, at least, are enjoying the respectful exchange of ideas, and hope you are as well. Give Bostick's essay a read, as well as the original, and then let us know what you think in the comments or at dads@gayswithkids.com.

--David Dodge, Managing Editor

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Fun

Gay Dad Penguins Strike Again! This Time in Berlin Zoo

The latest male penguins to care for an egg together are Skipper and Ping in the Berlin Zoo.

First, there was Roy and Silo — the two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo that served as inspiration for the famous children's book And Tango Makes Three. Then Magin Sphen got together in Sydney, where aquarium keepers gave the cocks (Calm down, that's what a male penguin is called!) a foster egg to care for.

And now, please welcome Skipper and Ping in Berlin to the latest list of gay dad penguins! As soon as the two emperor penguins arrived at the city's zoo, they set about trying to start a family, said Berlin Zoo spokesman Maximilian Jaege to DPA news.

"They kept trying to hatch fish and stones," Jaeger said.

So the zookeepers loaned the penguins an egg from a female penguin, who is apparently uninterested in hatching eggs on her own, according to the BBC.

Unsurprisingly, the gay penguins are killing it as parents. "The two male penguins are acting like exemplary parents, taking turns to warm the egg," Jaeger said,

Read the whole article on DPA here.

Change the World

Hungarian Company Raising Money for LGBTQ+ Organization with a LEGO® Heart

Startup WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD is helping combat misinformation and prejudice in Central and Eastern Europe

Guest Post from WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD

WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD is an innovative startup venture that sells LEGO® parts and unique creations. The core values of our company include social equality regardless of gender identity or origin. As LEGO® is a variety of colors and shapes, so are the people.

We all know that LEGO® is a brand that nearly everyone knows and likes between the age of 3 and 99 so this gives a great opportunity to connect unique LEGO® creations and Pride. We started a fundraising campaign for a Hungarian LGBTQ+ organization who's aim is to bring people closer to the LGBTQ+ community, they help to combat misinformation and prejudice regarding LGBTQ+ issues in Central- Eastern Europe since 2000.

You might know that gender equality and the circumstances of LGBTQ+ people is not the easiest in the former communist Eastern European countries like Hungary so this program is in a real need for help. For example a couple of month ago a member of the government said that homosexual people are not equal part of our society.

The essence of the campaign is when one buys a Pride Heart, a custom creation made of brand new and genuine LEGO® bricks the organization gets $10.00 donation so they can continue their important work. This Pride Heart is a nice necklace, a decoration in your home, and a cool gift to the one you love.

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Entertainment

Single Gay Dad Featured on Season Three of GLOW

Actor Kevin Cahoon joins the Gorgeous Ladies of Wresting in Vegas as a single gay dad — and drag queen — on Season Three of the hit Netflix show

For a couple of years now, Hollywood has been obsessed with gay dad characters (and who can blame them?) But the latest show to get hip to a story line featuring gay man raising kids is Netflix's GLOW, which explores a female wresting troop in the late 1980s.

But GLOW is helping represent a gay character that rarely gets time in the limelight:the single gay dad. In Season three of the hit comedy — which stars Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, and Marc Maron — actor Kevin Cahoon joins the case as Bobby Barnes, a single gay father who plays a female impersonator. (80s divas only, of course — Joan Collins and Babs among them)


"I've never done female impersonation," the openly gay actor told OutSmart Magazine, "so I tried to learn really quick. You will know them all; I was very familiar with all of them. There were plenty of talk shows and performances on YouTube to study. I learned that their breathing was very informative."

A single gay dad AND drag queen on television? It's about damn time if you ask us.

Read the full interview with Cahoon here.

Politics

Utah Court Rules Gay Couples Can't Be Excluded From Surrogacy Contracts

The Utah Supreme Court found in favor of a gay couple attempting to enter into a surrogacy contract.

DRAKE BUSATH/ UTCOURTS.GOV

Earlier this month, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that a same-sex couples can't be excluded from entering into enforceable surrogacy contracts, and sent a case concerning a gay male couple back to trial court to approve their petition for a surrogacy arrangement.

As reported in Gay City News, the case concerns Utah's 2005 law on surrogacy, which was enacted prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state. As a result, the content of the law is gendered, saying that surrogacy contracts should only be enforceable if the "intended mother" is unable to bear a child. When a gay couple approached District Judge Jeffrey C. Wilcox to enter into a surrogacy arrangement, he denied them, arguing that the state's law only concerned opposite sex couples.

"This opinion is an important contribution to the growing body of cases adopting a broad construction of the precedent created by Obergefell v. Hodges and the Supreme Court's subsequent decision in Pavan v. Smith," according to GCN. "It's also worth noting that same-sex couples in Utah now enjoy a right denied them here in New York, where compensated gestational surrogacy contracts remain illegal for all couples."

Read the full article here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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