I'm Voting For My Family

Friday, November 16, 2012

After years of wanting, months of planning and even more months of waiting, the dream of creating a family has become a reality for my partner and me. As I look back on our journey, the path to parenthood looks very different now than it did when we took our first steps.
Starting out, we immediately found ourselves at a crossroads and had to make some very important decisions on what direction to take. We recognized and appreciated that there are so many children in the foster care system that need a forever home. So, we agreed that adopting through foster care was the best fit for us.
The first milestone to cross was finding an agency to work with us. I’ll admit I was leery about how a gay couple (even in Massachusetts) would be received by the system. Would they hold us in the same regard as our straight counterparts? Or would we wait longer than a heterosexual couple because of bias?
From the very beginning, the agencies we contacted embraced us and assured us that we would be matched with children based on our ability to care for the child and provide a loving home and not by our identity. Each step along the way, we saw small reflections of ourselves that made a big difference. The mandatory training course that we took was taught by a lesbian mom who had also adopted through foster care years before. In ourclass was another gay couple. The panelist of adoptive parents who came into class to share their adoption stories also included a gay couple. The resource materials we were given included information for LGBT families. It was so impressive how inclusive the Massachusetts system is of the LGBT community. When we finished the pre-work and began ramping up the matching process, our positive experiences continued and we soon accepted that our identity as a gay couple would not influence access or decisions on the part of those charged with finding permanent and loving homes for awaiting children.
One of the first things we learned about the boys who would ultimately join our family was that they were brothers who had been living in separate foster homes for years. At the time when we were ready to adopt, serious consideration was being given to adopting them out separately, since it is so difficult to find adoptive parents who want more than one child at a time. It was unlikely that these boys would ever find a home together. We all found each other just in time.
I wonder about those states where the LGBT community is restricted from adopting through foster care. How many siblinggroups are permanently ripped apart simply because there is no one to adopt them? What if my boys had lived in one of those states? Chances are, they would either spend their entire childhood in the foster care system or be adopted out to separate families. Luckily, we’ll never know.
As we move forward to finalizing our adoption, my boys now finally have their forever home and will grow up together as it should be. They will never know the pain of separation again. My partner and I will finally realize our dream of becoming parents. I can’t help feeling incredibly lucky – lucky to live in a state that recognizes that my ability to parent a child is not determined by my gender or sexual identity. But many LGBT people are not solucky. They are still barred from adopting through foster care. But, who’s more unlucky? Is it the LGBT couple who want to adopt but can’t or those thousands of single and sibling groups of children in the system who are needlessly waiting to find their forever home? For our boys, what matters isn’t that they now have two dads, but that they have a loving and permanent place to call home…together.

Bill Lorenz is the Director of Finance and Administration for Family Equality Council. In 2011, Bill and his partner adopted two children from foster care and live in Nahant, Massachusetts along with their two dogs.