WASHINGTON — This National Adoption Month, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's All ChildrenAll Families (ACAF) initiative is joining RaiseAChild.US, a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization, in a campaign to encourage LGBT prospective parents to provide safe and loving homes to children in the foster care system. The campaign includes networking events to be held in four cities, featuring performances by actor Alec Mapa, who fostered and adopted a 5-year-old son with his husband in 2010. Foster care and adoption agencies that participate in the All ChildrenAll Families initiative are invited to be local sponsors, insuring that LGBT individuals and couples are connected to agencies and professionals who are fully committed to welcoming and supporting our community. Over sixty agencies participate in ACAF and many have already earned a seal of recognition for putting in place LGBT inclusive policies and practices.
"We want to be confident that when members of the LGBT community take that important first step of attending an adoption orientation event they are put in the hands of an agency that truly values them and will treat them with respect and care," said HRC Family Project Director and social worker Ellen Kahn. "This partnership with Raise A Child helps us make that immediate connection and will result in better outcomes for our families."
The networking events, which will connect prospective foster parents with agencies that are eager to work with them, will be held in the San Francisco Bay area on Nov. 29, in Orange County, Calif., on Dec. 3, Los Angeles on Dec. 4, and New York City on Dec. 6. Mapa, best known for his roles on ABC's Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives, will open each event with an excerpt from his stand-up show, Baby Daddy. For more information about the events, click here.
"As part of our outreach, this campaign aims to encourage members of the LGBT community and other prospective parents to consider building families through fostering and adoption," said RaiseAChild.US President Rich Valenza. "At the heart of our efforts, however, we offer a support network to connect prospective parents with social workers who know the specific needs in each community. Our Parent Advocates provide mentorship and guidance to help resolve roadblocks that may arise."
The "All Children — All Families" initiative, launched in 2007, promotes policies and practices that welcome LGBT foster and adoptive parents. The program 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. To date, ACAF has over 60 participating agencies across the country, and has awarded 18 seals of recognition.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Administration for Children & Families, over 107,000 children in the foster care system are available to be adopted. There are 300,000 additional children in need of immediate foster placement. Certified families are in short supply.
"As a society, we must address the epidemic of children who need families. We can and we will," said John Ireland, media director of RaiseChild.US. "Many LGBT people simply do not know that agencies are eager to work with us to build our families through fostering and adoption. This campaign will inform and engage those individuals so they may provide safe and loving homes to the children who are waiting for us to act."
RaiseAChild.US is a non-profit organization that encourages LGBT people to build their families through fostering and adoption. Through media campaigns, online resources and events, the organization supports LGBT parents and other prospective parents through the fostering and adoption process. Founded in 2011, the organization is partnered with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and local adoption agencies to engage prospective LGBT parents in the Los Angeles area. The organization is also partnered with various media sponsors, including Gay Parent Magazine, The Fight Magazine and Gay City News. For more information, visit www.raiseachild.us.