By Liz Massey, June 2017 Issue.

In the annals of great combinations, there’s peanut butter and jelly, milk and cookies, and dinner and a show. Local adoption agency Child Crisis Arizona (CCAZ) is hoping to add “comedy and adoption education” to that list, with its Night of Comedy gathering, an event that will blend the talent of openly gay Valley comedians with information about how LGBTQ individuals and couples can begin the adoption process in Arizona.

The Night of Comedy will take place June 3 at the Webster Center at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. It’s a free event designed to aid recruitment of new LGBTQ adoptive families to the agency’s roster.

According to Ken Hoffman, event organizer and adoption/training supervisor for CCAZ's foster care and adoption program, attendees will get their giggles on with the help of Gene Moore and Ernesto Ortiz, who have performed at Phoenix Pride and other queer venues, including The Rock and Cruisin’ 7th.

“This comedy event will be very family friendly,” he said. “It is a no-pressure event. We want people to have information about foster care and adoptions and to let them know we’re there to support them when they’re ready to begin their journey.”

Ernesto Ortiz (left) and Gene Moore

Hoffman added that he will emcee the event, and that current LGBTQ adoptive parents associated with CCAZ will discuss their experiences as parents and answer questions at intermission and during breaks between acts.

Ortiz, who partnered with Moore to create the Workin’ It Out comedy podcast and show to provide a showcase for performers who want to deliver openly LGBTQ comedy material, said he’s participating in the event to help his community, as well as CCAZ.

“There are many kids who need a safe home with a loving family,” Ortiz said. “Many LGBTQ people can provide a home and love … Performing in this event is a way to help create happy and healthy homes.”

Moore added, “We want and deserve the same rights as everyone else. We are also as capable of loving and caring for children as our straight counterparts.”

Arizona’s Department of Child Safety is underwriting the cost of the venue and CCAZ staff time for the Night of Comedy, Hoffman said. While CCAZ hosts recruitment events for other adoptive parent populations, including Native Americans and members of the Mormon church, Hoffman said DCS had singled out the Night of Comedy as an “innovative” approach to recruiting prospective parents.

“(DCS) said this type of event hadn’t been done before,” he noted. “They were actually asking if they could come, too. They are interested in funding this event because LGBTQ couples and individuals often have fewer children in their home before they make inquiries to adoption agencies, and DCS would like for us to be able to place siblings together [in a home].”

According to Hoffman, LGBTQ Arizonans interested in foster care or adoption often believe there will be difficulties in the process related to their sexual orientation or gender identity. The informational interludes at the Night of Comedy are designed to dispel this notion, especially where CCAZ is concerned.

“We will work with any LGBTQ person who wants to expand their family,” he stated. “CCAZ wants to plant our flag and make sure community members know that, especially since the marriage laws have changed, there are no barriers in terms of the adoption process for same-sex couples.”

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