With hundreds of thousands of children mired in the foster care system — and more than 100,000 waiting for permanent homes — we’ve always found it peculiar that barriers are thrown up to prevent them from being adopted into loving families just because the prospective parents are the same gender.
Given the horrors that can occur in foster homes and the fact that children often are uprooted several times while in the system, it would seem logical to afford foster kids the opportunity to be placed in more stable environments where they can thrive. Instead they are left in a system fraught with abuse and neglect.
At last count, only 18 states have state laws and policy that explicitly allow same-sex adoptions in which both parents can petition for custody. Some couples have had limited success in two other states, where courts have granted adoptions in limited circumstances. While progress has been made in recent years, the pendulum seems to have made a recent, troubling turn in places like Virginia, which passed an anti-gay adoption rule in February.
In our book, Getting to Baby, we recount our two near-misses with adoption (as well as provide a number of tips for how to make adoption work). While neither instance involved a child being adopted from foster care or state-sanctioned discrimination, the adoption process can be quite daunting, costly and emotionally-draining. We got really close to adopting: In our second try, we were in the hospital room feeding and bonding with our baby when the rug was pulled out from under our feet at the last possible moment.
Given the challenges with adoption and the current national political backdrop, it is heartwarming to hear of people working to make it a smoother, more supportive process.
Recently, David Wing-Kovarik, a man who works with same-sex couples to cut through bureaucracy and preconceived notions, was named a CNN Hero. Wing-Kovarik and his partner were ready to adopt a foster child in Arizona, when they were asked which one of them would petition for custody because they couldn’t do it together.
The couple eventually relocated to Seattle, where they successfully adopted two sibling boys. Since then, Wing-Kovarik created Families Like Ours, a nonprofit that provides adoption training to 250 prospective couples a year and also has a case management system in place to support couples as they move through the process.
The good news is that there are folks like Wing-Kovarik who tirelessly advocate for foster children. Also, the number of gay adoptions has been rising. About 19 percent of all children being raised by gay parents in 2009 were adopted, up from just 8 percent in 2000, according to the New York Times.
Clearly, however, there is much more work to be done.