Statistics say that the U.S. has about 405,000 kids in foster care. Each year, about 125,000 of those children are in need of an adoptive resource.
Olivia used to be one of those statistics.
And every time I find myself getting complacent about the fight for equality for our families, I remind myself of Olivia’s adoption day. Dawn and I were both licensed as foster mothers for Olivia. We both had equal standings and rights (or lack thereof, in some situations) for everyday decision-making and signing of papers. Two and a half years after she was placed into our home–into our family–I adopted her. Even though we were allowed to foster her together, when the case moved to adoptions only one of us could apply. While we were able to be open and out in the homestudy, only I was listed as the petitioner for adoption. Applying with both of us as petitioners wasn’t exactly against the law, but a joint petition had never been approved either. By attempting it, we would likely be denied. We would risk losing our daughter. I’m all for a good fight, but not with a potential result like that.
As we sat in the courtroom on January 20, 2006, I glanced over and saw the tears in Dawn’s eyes. I knew that most of those tears were ones of happiness at finally knowing we would never receive a phone call saying Olivia was being moved. Some of those tears, though, were of sadness. With the adoption finalized, Dawn had even fewer rights to our daughter than she did as her foster mother. She could no longer sign off on medical paperwork, enroll her in school, or have an official title in terms of legality.
It doesn’t have to be like this, though. The “Every Child Deserves A Family Act” has just been introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. The House version of the bill already has 80+ bi-partisan (hard to imagine in this day and age, I know!!) co-sponsors showing support. The “Every Child Deserves A Family Act” would work to increase the number of stable, loving homes available to those 125,00 kids in need by discouraging state laws and practices that prevent otherwise qualified and eager LGBT persons from fostering or adopting.
I wonder if it might have been different for us had this been around in 2006. I’d like to think so. Please consider contacting your Representatives and Senators to show your support of the ECDF Act. One way to do so is by heading to the Family Equality Council‘s website, where there is a link to a simple form that will be forwarded to the proper legislators.
Let’s work to break down the barriers for building loving families!