By Alex Davidson
Originally published on Advocate.com October 09 2013 2:16 PM ET
There are a lot of questions to answer when deciding to become a parent. One of the main ones, if you choose adoption, is which agency should you use? If you’re LGBT, you definitely have to be aware of an agency’s values and its track record, if it has one, with LGBT families.
A quick way to vet agencies you’re choosing is to see if they’re listed on the Human Rights Campaign’s All Children-All Families list.
According to HRC’s website, the All Children-All Families initiative “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.”
Does this matter? Yes, it definitely does. My husband and I chose our agency because of its gay-friendly attitude. Although it had not yet been certified by HRC — it has been since — we felt it was important to work with an agency that had a long record of providing competent and equal service to LGBT families. Little did we know that our agency was an outlier. According to HRC’s Promising Practices Guide, which helps agencies get certified in LGBT-friendly policies, most adoption providers don’t reach out to LGBT people:
“Research shows, however, that less than one-fifth of adoption agencies attempt to recruit adoptive parents from the lesbian and gay community. Even in states where it is legal for LGBT people to adopt children and youth from the foster care system, many LGBT people believe agencies will not welcome them, or they fear that they will be treated as second-class applicants when seeking to adopt.
“This is especially true for transgender people, about whom there is widespread confusion and misinformation. Transgender people face high levels of discrimination, especially regarding their ability to be effective parents.”
To get certified by HRC as LGBT-friendly, agencies work with the HRC Family Project and All Children-All Families Advisory Council members to evaluate and update their policies as needed, working toward 10 benchmarks of LGBT competence outlined in the Promising Practices Guide. When an agency achieves each of the 10 benchmarks, it is awarded the All Children-All Families Agency Seal of Recognition. Here are the 10 benchmarks:
1. The agency’s client nondiscrimination statement includes “sexual orientation.”
2. The agency’s client nondiscrimination statement includes “gender identity” and “gender expression.”
3. The agency’s employment nondiscrimination statement includes “sexual orientation.”
4. The agency’s employment nondiscrimination statement includes “gender identity.”
5. All agency employees receive the training required to work effectively and competently with LGBT clients.
6. The agency proactively educates and advocates for LGBT-inclusive and affirming practices among its organizational partners, collaborators, and contractors.
7. All agency-controlled forms and internal documents use inclusive language (e.g., “partner” instead of “spouse” or “parent 1” and “parent 2” rather than “mother” and “father”).
8. All external communications (website, printed materials and recruitment activities) explicitly reflect the agency’s commitment to working with LGBT individuals and families.
9. The agency includes standardized LGBT-specific language, examples and exercises in all family training and education activities (MAPP, PRIDE, etc.).
10. The agency has had placements/finalized adoptions with several LGBT foster or adoptive parents and/or has provided foster/adoption services to LGBT families within the past year.
Contact reporter Alex Davidson on Twitter at Twitter.com/adwildcat.