Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-11-25
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Center hosts panel on LGBT adoption and fostering
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Gretchen Rachel Blickensderfer

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

      More Photos

According to the U.S. Department of Social Services, as of September 2011 there were 400,540 children in foster care. The Children's Defense Fund estimated 17,080 children in Illinois. With Illinois now part of 16 states with marriage equality, organizations such as Raise a Child hope that LGBTQ couples will welcome one of those children into their family.

On Nov. 18, Raise a Child—a nonprofit based in Hollywood, Calif.—came to the Center on Halsted to present a panel discussion and resource fair for prospective LGBT parents. The discussion was part of National Adoption Month. Richard Valenza, the Founder and Executive Director of Raise a Child said he hoped people would consider building families through fostering and adoption."I think that LGBTQ people are geared to be the perfect parents for these kids," he said."Because of what we have gone through ourselves, like rejection from some of our family members."

The panel discussion opened with comedian Alec Mapa ( Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives ) talking frankly to the audience about the experience he and his husband, Jamison Hebert, had regarding the fostering and adoption of 5-year-old Zion in 2009."My husband and I said that if we don't go out there and try to find him, as soon as we can, it will be the biggest regret of our lives."Mapa remembered.

Zion had been in foster care in Compton for three and a half years. When Mapa and Hebert first met him, the young baby was sitting between two garbage bags—one containing his toys and the other his clothes. They adopted him nine months later. "After three years of living with two gay men, my son now sounds like he's been living with two gay men."Mapa said. "On flights, he asks for a Pellegrino."

Off-stage, Mapa said that he didn't find anything dramatically different about adopting a child as an LGBT couple. "I'm just raising a kid like everyone else," he said. "I'd had 45 years of being self-centered. I was sick of me." He recalled the first day they met as a terrifying experience. "He looked like a little old man. He just broke my heart," he said. "The first three weeks was like a non-stop freak out. There was a big adjustment thing that was scary for everybody. As soon as he knew he was safe and respected and that he wasn't going to be moved, he was a completely different kid. Now there's a light in his eyes."

Mapa said that, today, he cannot imagine his life without his son. "I understand adoption is not for everybody," he told the audience."But everybody should explore the option."

The panel included Glen Barker, his husband Tony Zumpano and their 9-year-old girl, Kayla, whom they adopted as a three-and-a-half-month old baby. Off stage, Kayla explained that having two dads was no different to her than having a mom and a dad. "I like it a lot," she said with a shy smile, "and kids at school think it's really cool." Zumpano and Barker both started their journey as foster parents. "I was really comfortable with having children in our home of all ages and backgrounds and knowing that I was doing my part." Barker said.

"It completely changes your life." Zumpano added after the discussion. Barker also offered encouragement to anyone considering adoption. "Follow your heart and go for it," he said. "Don't let circumstances stand in your way."

Twenty-two-year-old James McIntyre moved the audience with his own story. McIntyre said he spent 17 years as an abused and neglected child in the Department of Children and Family Services. A failed adoption put him back in the system at 13. He had little chance of being permanently adopted at that age and he went from placement to placement, never spending the holidays twice with the same family. Today, he is a motivational speaker and youth advocate who hopes to encourage people to adopt older children. "A lot of those kids are not going to be in the same placement this Thanksgiving," he said. "It's just another day."

Rosemary Mulryan, an attorney and frequent lecturer on adoption and legal issues facing LGBTQ families, mentioned some of the state support available for adoptive parents. Costs of adopting through the child welfare system are absorbed by the DCFS. Medical cards are available as well as continued support of the child's basic needs like food and clothing through monthly adoption subsidies. "Courts are amenable and family friendly," Mulryan said. "Once the child is ready, adoptions can be completed in five weeks."

Family law attorney Betsy Wirth advised LGBTQ couples to keep themselves updated with current laws and not to get discouraged. "Don't be afraid to foster and adopt," she said. "The law is quickly changing and there are lots of opportunities for folks to create families."

Speaking off-stage, McIntyre is determined to make that a reality nationwide. "The doors are open now," he said. "The first thing I would like to accomplish, at the minimum, is getting adoption with same-sex couples legal in all the states."

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Legacy Wall Traveling LGBT History Exhibit part of Youth Summit 2015-11-25
Chicago sex ed gets makeover; youth launch 'Chicago Wears Condoms' campaign 2015-11-25
A'ville shopping; Hilarity Davenport's; Oy to the World; youth talk; Transfluent 2015-11-25
The Chicago Youth Worker Collective hosts 'Friendsgiving' 2015-11-23
Hundreds attend Sleep Out for youth homelessness visibility, fundraising 2015-11-22
Tiny Home Competition to launch in Chicago 2015-11-17
Safe Schools Alliance holds youth conference 2015-11-17
Speakers, performers announced for Sleep Out Nov. 20 2015-11-17
Tiny Homes Competition launches in Chicago 2015-11-17
ViiV Healthcare awards grants for HIV programs focused on MSM youth 2015-11-12
Report: Utah judge orders child removed from home of same-sex parents 2015-11-11
Sleep Out kick-off attracts top musical talent 2015-11-11
Task Force lauds Missouri students' courage, racial justice campaign 2015-11-10
Chicago homeless, advocates confront Ald. Cappleman 2015-11-10
Ka'Riel Gaiter talks new role at YEPP, social-justice activism 2015-11-10
Project Fierce celebrates new home at annual brunch 2015-11-09
Producer creates Exposure for Chicago's youth experiencing homelessness 2015-11-08
GUEST COLUMN: Sleeping out for youth 2015-11-04
Experts address homelessness among LGBT youth 2015-11-03
Upcoming: Trans Day of Remembrance; Alliance youth summit; Midwest Equality summit 2015-11-03
Youth, faith leaders, county commissioners call for funding for violence prevention 2015-11-03
HRC Foundation, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids join against LGBTQ teen substance abuse 2015-10-28
Northalsted Business Alliance's Ruby Red Relay to benefit AIDS Fdn, Out in Open Sleep Out 2015-10-28
Leadership of Black Youth Project 100 arrested at protest of police convention 2015-10-24
Black Youth Project Chicago to announce call for end to police violence 2015-10-21
Upcoming: Uyvari memorial; HBHC's Halloween; youth homelessness talk 2015-10-20
Launch party held for LGBT history book for kids 2015-10-19
Palatine school board segregates transgender student 2015-10-16
SAMHSA: Conversion therapy not appropriate for minors 2015-10-15
Millions confront bullying by to "going purple" on social media Oct. 15 2015-10-08
LGBT Student Safety Program piloted in LA school district 2015-10-07
Lambda Legal expands LGBT youth advocacy 2015-10-07
Talk on youth homelessness Oct. 27 at All Chicago 2015-10-07
Safe-schools group honors allies, advocates at homecoming 2015-10-07
Chicagoans 'Sleep Out' to fight youth homelessness 2015-10-07
Chicagoans to 'Sleep Out' to fight youth homelessness 2015-10-07
Report offers solutions in fighting school-to-prison pipeline 2015-10-06
All Chicago's Learning Center to discuss LGBTQ homelessness 2015-10-06
Lambda expands work for LGBT youth: Ingelhart joins Midwest Regional Office 2015-10-04
New online publication ProudYouth: For, by, and about youth 2015-10-01

Copyright © 2015 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.