Gay Adoption: Bill Could Guarantee LGBT Families Full Adoption, Foster Care Rights

A new bill aiming to legalize gay adoption and foster parenting is expected to be introduced on Tuesday in Washington. The Every Child Deserves a Family Act (ECDF), sponsored by Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), is attempting to expand the positive momentum around marriage equality to the rights for LGBT couples to adopt.

There have been growing signs of support in recent months when Republican Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) publicly expressed his support for gay adoption. At a town hall meeting in Janesville, Wis., Ryan switched his position on gay couples’ rights to adopt children and expressed his regret for voting against a same-sex couple to adopt in the District of Columbia back in 1999.

“Adoption, I’d vote differently these days,” said Ryan in an interview with WKOW. “I do believe that if there are children who are orphans who do not have a loving person or couple, I think if a person wants to love and raise a child they ought to be able to do that. Period. I would vote that way.”

But what exactly is the new bill about? ECDF is aiming to open up more homes for foster youth and restricting states to employ discriminatory practices in adoption and foster care placements based on sexual orientation, gender identity and marital status. The bill’s ultimate goal is to serve the best interest of children in the foster care system by increasing access to more stable and supportive homes. The main target of this new ground is more than 2,000,000 LGBT families, many of whom have been waiting for the rights of adoption and foster care for years. The bill is expected to strike down barriers established by state laws, regulations and policies that have been prohibiting LGBT families from their rights to adopt for years.

In addition to support from Republican politicians, there are also growing signs of support from the academia. The American Academy of Pediatrics expressed their full support for same-sex marriage and LGBT couples’ full rights to adoption and foster care in late March.

“The APP believes there should be equal opportunity for every couple to access the economic stability and federal supports provided to married couples to raise children,” said Benjamin Siegel, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, and a co-author of the policy statement.

According to the Family Equality Council, ECDF can help to solve the problems of at-risk youth and children of color in the current foster care system. Research shows that over 26,000 youth aged out of the foster care system in 2011 and they are usually at a high risk for poverty, homelessness and other social problems. In addition, Family Equality Council also shows that public opinion regarding same-sex family with children has grown 10% from 2003. All the signs seem to be suggesting that the legalization of ECDF is inevitable.

Just like the battle for freedom to marry, granting LGBT couples full adoption and foster care rights will just be a matter of time. However, the continuous effort from all sides will play a crucial role in keeping the ball rolling.