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Are gays & lesbians good foster parents?

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This essay provides general information only. Do not rely on it to determine your legal rights or status. The legal situation in many political jurisdictions is in a state of rapid change. We recommend that you seek legal advice from a qualified attorney.

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Foster parenting in the gay-lesbian-bisexual community has many points of similarity to adoption. The following information is copied with a few modifications from our introduction to gay/lesbian/bisexual adoption.

Les-gay foster parenting is an important factor for the homosexual community. A growing number of homosexuals want to form a family with children; foster parenting can be one path towards this goal.

Foster parenting by gays and lesbians, either single individuals or committed couples is a controversial topic. Some arguments are:

bulletThose in favor of allowing gays and lesbians to become foster parents point out that
bulletThere are numerous children stuck in foster homes or institutions where they are currently awaiting adoption. In some areas of the country, foster homes are extremely unhealthy places for children to remain in. By allowing homosexuals to become foster parents, the pool of high quality foster homes will increase, and children will be benefited.
bulletA family led by two same-sex parents can be an excellent environment in which to raise a homosexual foster child. The child would not be subject to homophobia within the family, would have a greater chance of being accepted, and would have parents sensitive to their special needs.
bulletOpponents often believe that only a marriage consisting of one man and one woman provides the type of environment that children need to develop properly. Their main reasons appear to be that:
bulletThey feel that for proper social and sexual development, foser children need to be in a family headed by one man and one woman. They often point to studies conducted by social and religious conservatives which support this conclusion.
bulletThey feel that foster children raised in a family with two mothers or two fathers will be discriminated against in school, play and elsewhere because of the high level of homophobia in society. They will suffer the same type of rejections as minority-race children and mixed-race children face due to the bigotry and rejection of others.
bulletThey disagree with the findings of almost all professional associations concerning homosexuality. Rather, they regard homosexual orientation as a disordered, unnatural, abnormal, chosen, and/or sinful state; they feel that Gay or lesbian foster parenting is thus fundamentally flawed.

There are also two arguments that follow naturally from their disapproval of homosexual orientation and behavior:
bulletThey believe that children who grow up in a homosexual environment will choose to become homosexuals later in life. This appears to be a false belief.
bulletA child raised in a home led by heterosexual parents would have a greater chance of choosing to be heterosexual later in life.

Gay and lesbian foster parenting is in a state of rapid flux, as various states and countries consider changes to their laws and regulations. Many jurisdictions now allow single adults of all sexual orientations to adopt children. However, some do not extend this to les/gay co-parenting situations. This is a situation in which one lesbian or gay wants to adopt the child of their partner.

Just because a particular state has no legal impediments that automatically prevent a same-sex couple from becoming foster parents is no guarantee that they will actually be allowed to do so. Courts and case workers generally use the welfare of the child to be the prime factor in their decisions. Many judges and case workers are disinclined to approve of such arrangements because they:

bulletAccept the belief, promoted by many social and religious conservatives, that people act, think, behave, parent, think in different ways, depending upon their gender. Thus, any child raised in a family headed by either two men or two women are at an extreme disadvantage, both during childhood and as adults.
bulletAre concerned that there is so much homophobia in American society that a child being raised by two mothers or by two fathers will be ridiculed, rejected, harassed and physically assaulted.
bulletAre homophobic themselves.

So, just because a state will allow same-sex partners to become foster parents is no guarantee that a given couple will be approved.

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Legal status of foster parenting in the U.S.:

This section is being expanded as of 2006-FEB-21.

bullet2006-FEB-18: MO: Lesbian accepted as foster parent: Rominger Legal reports that:

"In the first such case in Missouri, a Jackson County judge ruled Friday that the state could not deny a lesbian a foster parent license. There was no dispute that Lisa Johnston was well qualified, but the state contended she lacked 'reputable character' because her sexual relationship with another woman broke state law. So the state denied the license." 1

The state law that criminalizes same-sex consensual behavior between adults is clearly unconstitutional because of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas. Lisa Johnson said: "I'm overwhelmed with joy. I feel like we were heard." She and her partner Dawn Rogniski issued a jpomt statement praising the judge for seeing that the ban in Missouri hurts children, It said: "This is a victory for all the children in the Missouri foster care system." The state plans to appeal and to ask that the court's decision be stayed until its appeal is heard. A Department of Social Services spokeswoman said that they were "disappointed by the decision ... and its implications for the state of Missouri." If this decision, and a similar one in Arkansas, are upheld on appeal, then there would be no states left which forbid gay and lesbian foster parents.

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Legal status of foster parenting in other countries:

Being written as of 2006-FEB-21.

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See also our essay on adoption by same-sex couples.

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Information on the Internet:

bulletThe GayLawNet web site has a section which records news items about lesgay  adoption. See: http://www.gaylawnet.com/news/
bulletThe Human Rights Campaign Foundation has a list of lesbian- and gay-friendly adoption agencies in all 50 states of the U.S., and the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. See: http://www.hrc.org/familynet/homelife/
bulletThe Human Rights Campaign Foundation also has a description of current parenting laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. They appear to update the data frequently. See: http://www.hrc.org/familynet/adoption

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  1. Joe Lambe And John Shultz, "Judge OKs gay foster parent," The Kansas City Star, MO, 2006-FEB-18. Online at: http://www.romingerlegal.com/

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Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > News > here

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Copyright © 2006 by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2006-FEB-08
Latest update: 2006-FEB-21
Compiler: B.A. Robinson

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