Every child deserves a family. It’s a notion that has always driven the very concept of adoption. Connecting children with permanent homes, deep parental love, and a lifelong sense of security — that’s why we do what we do.
Spence-Chapin has a proud history of building families with partnered same-sex couples and LGBT singles. We are fully committed to equality in adoption and are proud of the many children we have placed in loving, stable, same-sex households. Working with the Human Rights Campaign was a honor. HRC lead our team through a comprehensive framework to meet specific benchmarks that help further develop our welcoming, supportive and affirmative atmosphere for LGBT foster and adoptive parents. The end result was meeting the required criteria for fully inclusive policies and practices in working with the LGBT community and earning the HRC All Children – All Families” Seal of Recognition.
The “All Children – All Families” initiative, launched in 2007, promotes policies and practices that welcome LGBT foster and adoptive parents. The program seeks to enhance LGBT cultural competence among child welfare professionals and educate LGBT people about opportunities to become foster or adoptive parents to waiting children. To date, ACAF has over 60 participating agencies across the country, and has awarded 34 seals of recognition.
When it comes to the civil rights of the LGBT community, there has been progress in some places and none in others. For same-sex couples and gay singles who are hoping to become parents through adoption, one of the most frustrating areas of “no progress” has been in the realm of international adoption.
Many of the countries that have a need for international adoption don’t recognize the rights of gay individuals in their own society, and this is clearly reflected in their adoption policies. Despite overwhelming numbers of children living in orphanages, birth countries have not opened their eligibility to gay couples and singles. Some countries even go to extreme lengths to prevent gay individuals from adopting; one popular program requires every unmarried applicant to sign a notarized affidavit stating that they are not gay. TV shows like Modern Family that features Cam & Mitchell’s adoption from Vietnam is a lovely idea, but actually has no basis in reality and distorts the possibilities that gay families have in current international adoption practice.
As an agency that supports the rights of gay families to adopt, we struggle with the requirements imposed upon us, and are often challenged by prospective families to explain how we can support programs that discriminate against applicants in this way. While we continuously explore potential programs that would be open to a more diverse pool of families, our mission is to find adoptive homes for children who need families, and we must respect each country’s right to set their own criteria, while clearly communicating those criteria to our community so they can make the best decisions for their family. We credit our long lasting relationships with many placing countries on our dedicated adherence to their eligibility requirements, even those we don’t agree with and in this way we have successfully found loving homes for more than 20,000 children.
We hope and work towards the goal that international adoption may one day be an option for same-sex couples and gay singles. We have spent years and will continue to research program development opportunities where gay families may be able to adopt the children who need families. In the meantime, we have always placed and continue to place children through domestic adoption with a broad range of families, including same-sex couples and gay singles.
We welcome the opportunity to discuss our domestic programs with gay families, which range from a traditional full-service agency program, to independent private adoptions, to foster care/adoption counseling and LGBT support groups. We are here to support families in their quest to become parents as we seek loving, stable homes for all children who need families.