LGBTQ families in Arizona face many challenges. In particular many LGBTQ couples face discrimination when trying to plan for and build their families.
Qualified adults and same-sex couples with space in their home and their hearts should be allowed to adopt children and receive fair treatment throughout the adoption process. Increasing numbers of LGBTQ individuals and couples adopt children who need, deserve, and benefit from growing up in stable, loving families. Often, for same-sex couples, only one parent is allowed legal status of a child, either because he or she is the biological mother or father, or because an adoption agency will allow an LGBTQ individual to adopt, but not a same-sex couple.
Over 500,000 children currently live in foster care in the U.S., having been placed with families outside their own home because of neglect or child abuse. Over 14,000 of these children currently live with LGBTQ foster parents. According to the latest DES statistics, approximately 18,000 Arizona children need out-of-home placement due to abuse and neglect. Sadly, there remains a vast shortage of foster homes for youth and adolescents in the child welfare system.
The goal of any foster parenting program is to provide a safe, stable, nurturing environment for children who have been displaced from their family of origin. Moreover, children in the child welfare system come from all different types of families and have all different types of backgrounds. We need to ensure our foster care families reflect the diversity of the children in need.
Because many LGBTQ individuals have experienced unfortunate disruption to their own family life as a by-product of their LGBTQ identity, they may be better able to understand and be sensitive to the foster care experience of abused and neglected children who have been separated from their families. Therefore, qualified LGBTQ adults willing to provide homes for children in foster care should be treated fairly and supported for the courage, generosity, and commitment it takes to care for these children.
LGBTQ Foster Friendly Care Programs
With foster care programs in Maricopa and Pima Counties, Devereux Arizona has been recognized since 2012 as the first and only Arizona organization to have earned the Human Rights Campaign’s All Children-All Families Seal of Recognition. This Seal is issued to organizations that have met extensive benchmarks to ensure the organization welcomes, affirms, and provides competent services to LGBTQ individuals and families. Devereux Arizona is always looking for qualified foster parents of any background, sexual orientation, or gender identity/expression.
Related Bills and Legislation
Arizona Senate Bill 1188 mandates that the Arizona Department of Economic Security and adoption agencies give primary consideration to placing a child with a married couple. The bill was signed into Arizona law on April 18, 2011 by Governor Jan Brewer. EQAZ and child welfare advocates are working with our national partners to support the federal Every Child Deserves a Family Act (H.R. 2028). This proposed legislation intends to “prohibit discrimination in adoption or foster care placements based on the sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status of any prospective adoptive or foster parent, or the sexual orientation or gender identity of the child involved.”