Adoption Cafe Panellists: Mark Woodland, Becky Birtha, Sarah Barnwell and Susan Shachter
“I don’t know what the best thing is, but I am glad I am not the type of person who thinks that gays are from a different world. I am glad that I accept the fact that I have gay dads. I am glad that I'm more accepting of different types of families.”
Quote from an adopted youth involved in a research study looking at the perspectives of youth who were adopted by LGBT parents, conducted by AdoptUSKids.
With two million LGBT adults considering adoption, foster care and adoption agencies are realizing they need to pay attention to this constituent group. The National Adoption Center and the Obama administration believe that the LGBT community is one of the largest untapped and underutilized resources of potential parents. There are close to 105,000 children living in foster care throughout the country who wait for families, more than 1600 in the Delaware Valley alone.
NAC’s LGBT Initiative aims to educate and support the LGBT community around adoption issues. The program helps the community identify a gay-friendly adoption agency or how to differentiate what might be an issue of homophobia or just the barriers and weaknesses of the “system”, for example. We host events which provide the opportunity for prospective adoptive parents to talk to gay and lesbian adoptive parents in a safe and welcoming environment.
Last month we held one such event at the William way Community Center in Center City Philadelphia. Thirty five individuals attended our LGBT Adoption Café and listened to Mark, a gay man who has two adopted children, and Susan and Becky, lesbians who have adopted children, and Sarah, an attorney with expertise including estate planning and family law, in a lively and honest panel discussion.
“This event is for anybody who has ever considered adoption,” says Ken Mullner, the Center’s executive director. “We believe that every child deserves to live in a loving, nurturing and permanent family and that people from a variety of life experiences offer strengths for these children.”
The Center has always welcomed members of the LGBT community. In fact, in the late 70s, one of the first children for whom the Center created a family was placed with a lesbian in West Virginia. Fifteen years later, the child, then almost 20, told those who attended an anniversary dinner for the Center, “Thank you for finding me a family. Without the National Adoption Center, I wouldn't have one.”
There was not a dry eye in the house.