Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What About The Children?

May is National Foster Care Month.

Children and youth are placed in foster care when their parents or guardians aren't able to take care of them (because of neglect, malice, illness, etc.). Currently, there are thousands of kids, from infant to age 18, in North Carolina's foster care system.

Now, this is a special issue for me. Me and Craig's kid, Isaiah - Best Kid In The World (TM) and heart of my heart - was adopted through the foster care system. We were his foster parents until Kid was officially adopted.

(Second-parent adoption in North Carolina is it's own separate, problematic kettle of fish.!)

Obviously this means that gay people can be foster parents in NC, which is not the case in some states. It's not completely the case in North Carolina, either: Basically it varies with the county, agency, and people you work it.

Our experiences were wholly positive and the people we encountered were totally supportive of us a gay male couple. We've heard of other people, though, that have had ... less positive experiences. Some of the people we worked with told us directly that certain social workers and administrators in the foster care system are homophobic.

If you think that's bad for prospective foster parents, imagine what it's like being a gay kid in foster care. Not only do you not have a stable home and loving family to begin with, but it's a total crapshoot as to whether or not the people who are supposed to help you find a home and care for you in the interim will think of your best interests or if they'll just make your already hard life that much more miserable because of ignorant bigotry.

For our fostering/adoption, we used the Children's Home Society of North Carolina, a private nonprofit agency which had the advantage of working with all 100 county DSSes in the state. (Some agencies are limited to specific regions. We chose this one because we were told it was gay-friendly, which we found to be true, and we figured it would increase our odds if we had the whole pool of the state to look for a kid in.)

Here's the link to the FAQ about Foster Care Month.

Here's the link to the NC Division of Social Services FAQ on foster care.

If you're interested in the second-oldest profession, you don't have to go the old-fashioned way. There are plenty of great kids out there who need a loving home that you can provide. And May is the perfect time to start thinking about it.

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