The Every Child Deserves a Family Act (S. 1770) was the topic of a Congressional briefing today organized by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) office. Advocates from LGBT and Adoption organizations engaged in a panel discussion about the bill and its promise of expanding the number of eligible families for children awaiting adoption.
Emily Hecht of the Family Equality Council explained precedence for and the logistics of nondiscrimination policies. She described the ease of implementing S. 1770 by pointing to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) existing support and technical assistance regarding LGBT nondiscrimination in adoptions. Rhodes Perry of Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) agreed that Every Child Deserves a Family is good policy and described how it will produce savings by shifting children in care to permanent families. Ellen Kahn with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) talked about her organization’s direct work with public child welfare agencies and how passing the bill would lift barriers to accessing certain training funds in addition to preventing case-halting discrimination by individuals working in adoptions. Nicole Dobbins of Voice for Adoption (VFA) described the youth waiting for adoption: that they tend to be older, have special needs, have been in several foster care placements, and are often in sibling groups. She attested to their strong desire for a permanent family without concern of the family’s make up.
Voice for Adoption holds an annual Adoptive Family Portrait Project engaging Congressional members in celebrating November as National Adoption Month. This year over 60 Senators and Representatives participated by posting a picture of an adoptive family from their constituency. The portraits depict a diverse group of adoptive families, including those headed by LGBT parents. The last panelist of the briefing was Mathew Reynell whose family portrait is posted in Senator Gillibrand’s office. Mr. Reynell and his partner adopted their son James from foster care just a couple of years ago. Mr. Reynell described the adoption process and how much positive socio-emotional and educational progress James has made since joining their family. He credits the love of a forever family as the best medicine for struggling children.