Opinion: Many would-be adoptive parents face discrimination

By: Kaalie Cohen

Every child deserves a forever home. Today, more than 100,000 children still in foster care who are available for adoption in the U.S. are waiting to find their forever homes. These children deserve a family who will love them for who they are. They deserve a family who will care enough to check on them and hold them close enough to make them feel safe.

Fortunately for my daughter, that isn’t her concern. Her biggest problem is having parents who care about her so much that we invade her privacy by checking text messages, attend parent-teacher conferences and create an environment that makes her feel safe — safe enough to discuss the “Do you like me?” text messages she gets and other things that take place in and around school.

My daughter is one of the fortunate ones. She has a loving home and has grown up in a forever family with her biological mother all her life. She resides with her two moms and spends weekends with her dad, but this isn’t the story for so many others.

While the total number of children in foster care has decreased in the last decades due to a greater emphasis on kinship care, 25,000 children are shuttled through multiple placements until they age out of care without ever finding a permanent home. Adoptive families, like all families, come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, including two moms, two dads and everything in between. But in many states, not all potential parents are allowed to step forward to open their homes to our nation’s foster children. Some states prohibit unmarried couples from adopting altogether. Other states prevent same-sex partners from adopting as a couple, only allowing one person to establish a legal relationship with their adopted children.

The Every Child Deserves a Family Act (ECDF) is a federal bill that would prevent states from discriminating in adoption and foster care on the basis of potential parents’ sexual orientation, gender identity and marital status. ECDF would open up more homes to children now in foster care. So, in November, as we celebrate National Adoption Month, let’s take a moment to celebrate all the families across the country who have opened their hearts and homes and become loving forever families to millions of children.

Kaali Cohen works with organizations that advocate for special populations in the child welfare system and homeless youth.