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Working With Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Families in Adoption
Series: Bulletins for Professionals|
Child Welfare Information Gateway |
|Year Published: 2011|
Tips for Representing LGBT Families as Potential Adoptive Parents
Private agencies may struggle with representing potential parent(s) who are LGBT to birth families who are considering placement options. It is important to be aware of how to talk to other adults and to children at various ages and stages about different kinds of families, including LGBT families. Some suggestions for conducting these conversations include8:
- When meeting families/clients for the first time, inform them that you work with diverse resource/adoptive families and include examples such as two-dad or two-mom families. Do not make assumptions about what families they will consider. This applies to birth parents who choose adoptive parents for their infants.
- Be prepared to share some key talking points or handouts about the positive findings from research on children raised by LGBT parents and to allay fears or concerns by offering factual information about LGBT parents.
- Provide opportunities within your agency or community for LGBT adoptive parents to participate in orientations, parent panels, and training/licensing classes. When people get to know LGBT parents, many of their initial fears/concerns are alleviated.
- When representing family home studies to expectant families, include LGBT families. Do not highlight or point out the sexual orientation or marital status from the very beginning of the introduction, but focus on those things that will be relevant to what the birth family has expressed an interest in—for example, that the couple lives in the city, has pets, or that they are teachers or athletes, etc.
- When talking to children or youth, explain that there are many kinds of families who are interested in adopting, using photos and stories about the families rather than using terms such as "gay, lesbian, transgender" in first introducing the families.
- With younger children, point out the family structure ("this family has two dads," or "this family has one mom, a dog, and a cat") rather than discussing sexual orientation. Younger children do not have a formulated concept of sexuality or sexual orientation; rather they are interested in who will be in their family.
- With older children who have a more evolved understanding of sexuality and romantic/physical relationships, be very direct and honest when presenting a same-sex couple or a single applicant who has self-identified as LGBT. It is better to know up front if there are negative feelings toward or biases about gay or lesbian people.
- In most cases, children and youth do not have rigid ideas or beliefs about sexual orientation and are open to different families. However, if and when an older youth is resistant to the idea of being placed with an LGBT individual or same-sex couple, be prepared to engage the youth in a discussion of his or her concerns, keeping in mind that the youth may hold views based on myths, stereotypes, and misinformation about LGBT people. It is important, however, to respect the youth's position, even if you disagree, which may ultimately necessitate the need to proceed to identify other families for the best individualized placement choice for that particular child or youth.
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