Are you an LGBT person who is ready to start a family or add to your existing family? If so, you might be interested in a Nov. 21 event in the Crossroads Arts District that is designed to give LGBT households the boost they need to enter the world of foster/adoptive parenting. Single and partnered LGBT adults are the main targets for the event at Studio B, but all are welcome.

By presidential declaration, November is National Adoption Month, and the Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association (MFCAA) is making a special push this year for LGBT-headed families to consider fostering and adoption. MFCAA is partnering with RaiseAChild to bring awareness to the foster/adoption process locally. On the Missouri side of the metro, these options are open to LGBT-headed households.
RaiseAChild
RaiseAChild promotes LGBT parenting via foster care and adoption through its campaigns in various localities and in a wide variety of media. It is now running a public service announcement on the ABC Family network. The PSA features cast members from its new show The Fosters. You can view the video at goo.gl/btrUcS.

A couple of years ago, after meeting at a Los Angeles group for gay fathers, Rich Valenza and John Ireland founded RaiseAChild. They had both been through the fostering and adoption process and saw an opportunity to appeal directly to prospective LGBT parents through media and events. They were familiar with the specific challenges facing LGBT parents and wanted to work to overcome the system’s biases. To them, it seemed that foster kids and LGBT adults had something in common: rejection. This shared experience motivated them to work to make the way toward forever families easier in the future.

There are roughly 400,000 children in the United States who are in state foster-care systems. In 2007, researchers at the Williams Institute and the Urban Institute estimated that two million LGB Americans were interested in fostering/adoption. Opening up LGBT households to kids could go a long way toward resolving the nation’s parent deficit.
All Children – All Families
The Human Rights Campaign’s All Children – All Families (ACAF) initiative “seeks to enhance LGBT cultural competence among child welfare professionals and educate LGBT people about opportunities to become foster or adoptive parents to waiting children.” Both public and private organizations can work to earn the ACAF seal. The certification requires groups to be welcoming to parents of all orientations and genders, to train workers to practice this affirming ethic in their daily work and to bring all documentation into line with the inclusive policies. Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association has borne HRC’s All Children – All Families seal since 2011.
Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association
MFCAA believes that all children have the right to a loving family and the joy of childhood hopes and dreams that family brings. It seeks to provide foster/adopted children the chance for stable and nurturing families. In addition to its recruitment, training and support, MFCAA maintains a food pantry and clothes closet and it holds training, awareness, giving and fundraising events throughout the year.

Eric Charles-Gallo, MFCAA’s director of training, reports that more than 16,000 children are now in the custody of Missouri’s Department of Social Services, Children’s Division. Cornerstones of Care, the Missouri contractor responsible for recruiting, training and support of resource families for children who have experienced abuse or neglect, recently awarded MFCAA the subcontract for foster-care training in the counties of northwest Missouri. This means that those who are given training under MFCAA direction will receive LGBT-inclusive instruction, according to Charles-Gallo.

MFCAA formed in 1998 to help support a group of foster parents in training who met regularly for potluck dinners and discussion. From this, MFCAA has evolved to become a comprehensive training, advocacy and support system for foster and adoptive families. Many members of MFCAA’s staff are foster and/or adoptive parents, including its founding and current president and CEO, Lori Ross.
RaiseAChild Awareness Event
Ross came up with the idea to bring RaiseAChild to town for a meet-and-greet with LGBT families. The local parent recruitment event is set for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, at Studio B, 2016 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. Actor and comedian Alec Mapa, known to many as Suzuki St. Pierre on ABC’s Ugly Betty, will speak about his and his husband’s experience as foster/adoptive parents. During the casual evening, attendees may ask questions and familiarize themselves with the foster/adoption process. Adult drinks, hors d’oeuvres and information will be available. Admission is free. Go to raiseachild.nationbuilder.com/kansascity_2013 or email info@raiseachild.us to RSVP.
Contacts
Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association
18600 E. 37th Terr. South
Independence, Mo.
mfcaa.org or 816-350-0215
RaiseAChild
raiseachild.us
Human Rights Campaign’s All Children – All Families
hrc.org/acaf"

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