The Human Rights Campaign Foundation recently launched its latest initiative, “All Children – All Families,” aimed at finding permanent families for foster children by promoting fairness for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender families.  

The initiative released a new guide for adoption and foster care agencies titled “Promising Practices.” The release of the guide coincided with the 2007 Child Welfare League of America’s annual Adoption and Foster Care Conference that took place in New Orleans last month.

HRC Family Project Director Ellen Kahn and members of the “All Children – All Families” National Advisory Board were in New Orleans to present the guide to the hundreds of adoption and foster care professionals from across the nation. 

“We must break down the barriers that stand in the way of children being placed with qualified GLBT parents who want to open their hearts and homes to these children,” said Human Rights Campaign Family Project Director Ellen Kahn. “With this guidebook, adoption organizations nationwide can educate themselves and reach out to the nearly two million gay, lesbian and bisexual people who are interested in adoption.”

Today, there are more than half a million children in the U.S. foster care system, with at least 100,000 awaiting adoption by loving, permanent families. Agencies may purposefully or inadvertently close the door to qualified families through their practices.  

Few agencies recruit GLBT adoptive and foster parents, and many GLBT people feel unwelcome or discouraged. Similarly, members of the GLBT community may not be aware of the opportunities in domestic adoption and foster care, or they may not know of agencies that welcome their families. 

“All Children-All Families” will work to ensure that all qualified prospective parents who wish to open their homes and hearts to children and youth have the opportunity to do so, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The “Promising Practices”guide offers examples of effective practices for working with GLBT foster and adoptive parents. The guide features sample policies and materials, and also features tips from leaders of welcoming agencies, researchers in the field and GLBT adoptive and foster parents. The guide also includes an organizational self-assessment to allow agencies to gauge their current policies and practices and receive guidance for improvement. The Human Rights Campaign will create a searchable public database of agencies that welcome GLBT families.

Several adoption agency directors have pledged to implement the “Promising Practices” guidelines within their own agencies. Recent research from the Williams Institute shows GLBT families are already raising about 65,500 adopted children, and 14,000 foster children – about three percent nationwide – are being cared for by gay and lesbian parents.

“The ‘All Children – All Families’ initiative is an important tool for achieving the goal we all share:  finding permanent, loving families for children in the foster care system,” said Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and member of the AC-AF National Advisory Board. “We encourage agencies to engage in the process of becoming more competent in working with GLBT families, which the AC-AF Promising Practices Guide will help them to do, and the bottom line is that we believe more kids will get homes as a result.”

Additional information on the “All Children – All Families” initiative and the HRC Foundation Family Project can be found online at www.hrc.org/acaf.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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