LGBT+ people must be allowed to adopt children

by Ellen Kahn | Human Rights Campaign Foundation
Thursday, 29 November 2018 16:56 GMT

Joseph Vitale (L) and his husband Robert Talmas (R) walk with their adopted son Cooper near their New York City apartment March 9, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar

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* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

As a lesbian mother, I know that my ability to be a loving, supportive parent is not at all compromised by my identity

Ellen Kahn is director of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's Children, Youth & Families Programme

There are currently more than 100,000 children across the United States waiting to be adopted. What makes this fact all the more heartbreaking is that there are prospective parents who would love nothing more than to adopt them, but continue to face barriers because they are LGBT+.

 It’s 2018 – yet the fight for qualified LGBT+ parents to be able to adopt children desperately in need of loving, safe, supportive homes is still being waged. And as extreme right-wing groups fight to block LGBT+ prospective parents from adopting, thousands of young people are paying the price and being denied the “forever homes” they deserve.

These are vulnerable young people who deserve every chance to thrive and to find families who will give them the love, attention and care they need. Yet rather than do everything possible to find homes for these children, there are politicians and institutions that are putting their own prejudice above the best interests of these children by turning away qualified parents.

 In the last year, Oklahoma and Kansas have enshrined anti-LGBT+ adoption measures into law, allowing child welfare organisations to turn away qualified parents, including same-sex and transgender couples, interfaith couples, and single parents. And politicians in the U.S. Congress last session unconscionably tried to pass a similar amendment that would allow this kind of “licence to discriminate” nationwide.

Meanwhile, experts across the country resoundingly agree – children in care need a larger pool of qualified prospective parents – not a smaller one.

We know that 2 million LGBT+ people are interested in becoming parents. We also know that children need families – and also succeed in families. It is ridiculous and inhumane to put up blatantly discriminatory hurdles for qualified adopters and to put prejudice over the wellbeing of the children we are all trying so hard to serve.

As a lesbian mother, I know that my ability to be a loving, supportive parent is not at all compromised by my identity. And as a social worker, who has counselled so many LGBT+ families through this process, I’ve seen the amazing, transformational results for both the children and parents. We bring wisdom, commitment, and compassion to our role as parents – we are good at this.

Being a parent has immeasurably changed my life for the better. This National Adoption Month, I want every qualified person to have the same opportunity – for themselves, and for the child out there who needs them.

It is far past time to move beyond these harmful and discriminatory policies. It’s time to put our support behind the agencies and institutions who are committed to being fully inclusive.

It’s 2018, and it’s time to put love – and our children – first.