Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults: we need you!! Although you may sometimes wonder if you can be a foster parent, the answer in Massachusetts is a resounding YES!
Not only that, but kids here in Massachusetts are in vital need of parents of all sorts. If you have love, patience, perseverance, flexibility and the ability to advocate on behalf of yourself and your foster child, you will be a great foster parent!
As an LGBT adult who wishes to become a foster parent, you may find you have questions that are specific to LGBT families. Luckily, there are many resources available. The first step is to reach out to the agency you work with, such as the Department of Children and Families or a private agency like Plummer Foster Care. Other resources include The Child Welfare Information Gateway, which provides a clearinghouse for LGBT parents. They have a helpful FAQs page that will point you to a number of resources.
Thankfully, the cultural conversation has shifted away from suspicion of LGBT couples or individuals as parents towards acceptance of the idea that all children deserve loving, stable homes, and LGBT families are more than capable of providing them. This cultural shift has been helped along by research suggesting that children raised by gay or lesbian parents fare as well as those raised by heterosexual parents.
A study released this year, conducted by Boston’s Tufts University and an affiliated medical center, for example, suggests that gay fathers participate in parenting activities as often as their straight counterparts, and that their children experience approximately the same levels of happiness and anxiety as those raised by straight men. The Tufts study followed one released by the UCLA School of Law, the University of Amsterdam, and Columbia University, also in 2016. This study took an in-depth look at same-sex female couples, and found that children raised by lesbian couples enjoy the same physical and emotional health that kids from opposite-sex couples do.
Reports indicate nearly six million children and adults in the United States have at least one gay or lesbian parent. Ultimately, being an LGBT parent is the same as being any kind of parent—there is lots of joy involved, but sometimes it can be very hard. That’s why it’s important to ensure that you have a robust support system around you, which includes friends, neighbors, family if possible, and even mental health and child welfare professionals. Families gain resilience based on the relationships they build with caring individuals and communities, and LGBT families are no different.
There are so many children in Massachusetts in need of loving homes. In the Commonwealth, LGBT parents are welcome and encouraged to become involved in the foster care system, and to become partners in the quest to provide an ever brighter future for these children. We are grateful to have you!