Saturday, February 03, 2007

Getting the word out on us

Dcholer writes:

Does the agency have any language in their materials for the kids that
indicates that there are families [note the optimistic plural, here] who
specifically take LGBT youth? I am thinking about the scared and/or closeted
kids who might take a step towards you if they didn't think that they were
stepping off a ledge without a net. You are a net - do they know that you are
there?I seem to be floundering in a sea of cliche, so I shall stop.

There is nothing so specific, and there would be problems for there to be such a comment.

There are posters that announce that GLBT kids have the right to be safe. Many social workers have some sort of "safe zone" poster in their offices. It is mentioned more than once in brochures and literature.

The emphasis however is, rightly, on the assertion that kids have the right to be safe in all families. Diversity education is required of all the families and issues of sexuality are discussed, even emphasized. They work hard to make families understand that they can no more condemn a gay kid for being gay than a black kid for being black. If they refuse to keep a child based upon the kid's sexual orientation, they risk losing their license.

The solution for GLBT kids should not be to move them, yet again, to another home. If the system works they way it should, we should have to wait for a very long time before we get another kid. We should have to wait until one of the kids who need to be moved for other reasons just happens also to be gay.

So let's take the boy on the photo listings. It says that he has become close to his foster mother and she describes him as having a sensitive heart. If he is admitted to the permanency program his current foster parents will be invited to get licensed in the program so that they can keep him. There are many families who prefer not to work with this program. People who work with the private agency that takes kids with more severe behavioral problems sometimes find it very difficult to work with both at the same time. Some state families don't want the extra required training.

But if they don't have a specific reason to object to coming into the program, they will. And whatever his sexual orientation, he will not be told of us, or I of him.

And that is as it should be. The emphasis of the agency is and should be on making all families safe for all kids.

So I wonder whether and when a family with a commitment like ours will be unnecessary or even inconvenient. At what point would it be so much better if we would just accept whatever kid fit into our family, regardless of sexual orientation?


  1. Thanks for the very thoughtful response.

  2. "If they refuse to keep a child based upon the kid's sexual orientation, they risk loosing their license."

    That's interesting, Yondalla. Does that apply even if it's done thoughtfully, rather than just throwing the kid out? What happens if a parent says to the social worker, "I care about this child and I want the best for him, but I am struggling with this. My extended family/friends/church are likely to have a negative reaction. I was brought up to believe that this behavior is wrong. Especially coming on top of this child's other challenges, I am worried about being able to provide a supportive environment for him. I'm wondering if it might be best to find another place for him. I am happy to continuing caring for him until a safe place is found."

  3. Well, I said they risked loosing their license, not that they would loose it. :-)

    The most important thing of course is that whatever happens it is happening in a way that is genuinely driven by a concern for what is best for the child.

  4. "Well, I said they risked loosing their license, not that they would loose it. :-)"

    :) True. For the record, I am thrilled that the agency is educating foster parents and encouraging them to be supportive. But (as is true for interracial adoption using your example of a black kid) I'm not sure that everyone is in a position to effectively parent an LGBT kid and it seems like it could do more harm than good to force someone to try. As traumatic as moving is, it seems like it could end up being better for the kid to be placed in a home like yours or mine that is better prepared to handle those issues. Although like you, I certainly hope that this is a non-issue and all kids who need supportive homes are already in them.


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