Guest Author: Kent Love-Ramirez
When my husband and I first broached the topic of having kids, we had little to no sense of how to go about it. We agreed, however, on one very important point—we imagined our future together as parents. And as we continued our conversation in the ensuing months, we ultimately felt called to adoption. Thus began our rollercoaster ride toward our two boys.
Even though many LGBTQ parents already had blazed the trail, we were surprised by how daunting it was to find resources and role models to help guide the way and find the path that was right for us. There unfortunately was—and still is—no standard roadmap for LGBTQ prospective adoptive parents pursuing adoption. So when asked to share about our adoption experience, I stress two things—1) I’m an adoptive advocate, not an adoption expert, and 2) every journey is unique.
Although a step-by-step guidebook would be ideal, in the absence of one, the key for us was research and outreach. It was important to understand our options. Every click of the mouse took us further down the proverbial rabbit hole, but every piece of information helped us better understand the complete picture of adoption for the LGBTQ community. It’s worth noting that there are some terrific books for parents in the Family Equality Council Book Nook. The more you know, the better prepared you are to make a plan.
We found the most helpful resource to be LGBTQ parents who came before us. We talked with a lot of people and engaged with other parents, mainly through social media groups. Most adoptive parents welcome opportunities to share their story and help others. Many cities and most states have LGBTQ parent groups on Facebook or Meetup. A good place to start is Family Equality Council’s directory of Parent Groups and Community Resources. We asked parents to help identify agencies and resources in our area. We made exploratory inquiries to as many agencies as possible to understand their process. And after we had done our research, we made a plan.
Our sons’ adoption stories are theirs to share, but we always are willing to connect one-on-one with prospective adoptive parents to recount our experience and help guide someone else’s journey. There certainly are more resources available today than 8+ years ago when we started the process, but the journey is no less legally or emotionally complex. Building a support system from day one is crucial to enduring the inevitable ups and downs of the adoption process—and parenting, in general!
Laws governing adoption vary by state so it’s important to be guided by someone who understands the system, whether that be a reputable agency or attorney specializing in adoption. Despite a concerted effort to establish laws that allow faith-based agencies to use religion as a license to discriminate, there are avenues to adoption for the LGBTQ community in every state. And there fortunately are organizations like Family Equality Council that advocate every day for our rights to form, and be, a family.
I never want to give false hope, and in my opinion, no agency should ever promise a placement. But if you make a plan and proceed patiently and persistently, you’ll be on your way, despite the inevitable twists and turns. It may never happen, but if it does, your life will change in wonderful, yet often challenging and unexpected, ways.
Kent Love-Ramirez is a professional communicator and consultant currently working for the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he lives with his husband and two sons. He is a devoted dad, community connector, and ardent advocate for all things #familyequality. Work hard. Have fun. Make a difference.