The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community has for many years exercised great creativity in building families. Some build families of friends, and some create families that include children.
Adoption, artificial insemination and surrogacy are three doorways to the process of having children, but for some LGBT families, the costs involved in these processes are prohibitive, the disappointments almost tragic, and individuals or couples who would make great parents languidly await an opportunity that never arrives.
In addition, some couples fear coming out to adoption agencies, having experienced rejection in the past or believing they might face discrimination because of their sexual orientation.
What a waste when there are more than 6,000 youth in foster care in the Bay Area alone who need loving parents, and thousands of potential parents who are well-suited to parenting children -- particularly children who might be gay or lesbian themselves.
LGBT youth in foster care have often faced not only the pain and loss of having been neglected or abused by their birth parents, but have also sometimes endured rejection by foster parents whose values are not compatible with parenting LGBT children.
These multiple rejections increase trauma for children, and can be avoided by placing children in homes where their sexual orientation is accepted.
November is National Adoption Month and, hopefully, will inspire LGBT individuals and couples who wish to parent or adopt children to partner with local agencies to offer permanency and belonging to children in need of foster care and adoption.
Providing foster care and/or adopting foster youth is a creative, purposeful, and also cost-effective means of building a family for LGBT individuals and couples.
It also provides layers of belonging and benefit to children who long for stability, guidance and acceptance from caring adults who understand some of their struggles.
As witness to the power of healing and transformational relationships between foster parents and foster children, I hope to inspire LGBT individuals and couples in the Bay Area to step forward to offer safe, stable, caring homes to youth who desperately need a sense of family and belonging.
Perhaps the person who can offer a child this sense of love and belonging is you. And perhaps the time for beginning your unique and special family is now.
If not you, who? If not now, when?
Danielle Dekker is director of foster care at Oakland-based Seneca Family of Agencies.