Giving Thanks for Family

posted on Mon, Nov 21 2011 3:00 pm by Jenn

As a mother, I am grateful every day for the blessing of my family and committed to ensuring that my children are happy, health, loved and cared for.  This week, as I prepare to celebrate this time of thanksgiving, my heart goes out to children who have a very different existence than that of my children. These are the more than 400, 000 children in foster care, who have no permanent family to call their own this Thanksgiving. Because of discriminatory state laws and outdated policies, those who want so much to be moms and dads and also happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender cannot open up their hearts and homes to these kids.

There is hope that could change in time.

This month, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act was introduced  by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and a companion bill in the House now has 82 bi-partisan co-sponsors thanks to the work of lead sponsor, Rep. Pete Stark (CA).

This bill would ensure that our country is doing everything possible to move children out of the foster care system and into permanent loving homes. It would eliminate discrimination in foster and adoption placement policies based on the marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity of the prospective parents.

Also this month, President Obama issued a proclamation in recognition of National Adoption Month that clearly expresses his belief that adoptive families come in all forms.

It also represents his belief and ours that adoption decisions should be based on the best interests of children and that all qualified caregivers should be allowed to serve as adoptive parents.

We are making incredible progress, and it’s because there are moms and dads all over the country who are incredible advocates in their daily lives. People who recognize that the only way for circumstances to change is to do something about it. People like:

  • John Armantrout of San Diego who was forced to hide his relationship with his spouse, Larry Moreno because of the now-repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law.  Armantrout ended his service to our country so the two could facilitate the adoption of both their sons, Mike and Tristion.

  • Rob Keeling, an adoptive dad in Virginia and a former board member of Family Equality Council, who spoke out eloquently this year demanding that his state prevent child welfare agencies from discriminating against qualified loving parents, simply because of their sexual orientation or family status.

Until Congress passes the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, we must all work to make a difference in whatever ways we can. The people above have answered the call and done what they could to improve the lives of youth in foster care. Just like them, there are simple and easy ways for you to incorporate this into your life and have a huge impact.

One simple way is to urge your senators and representatives to support this urgently-needed legislation.

Another way to is for you to recognize the loving parents who are working in their every day lives to change laws, change the hearts and minds of policymakers and actively change the lives of children in their own communities. If you know someone like this, take the time to thank them.

This Thanksgiving, as we sit around the table with our families, I ask that you remember all of the children who should be sitting around tables of their own in loving homes all across this country, but who have yet to find their forever families.

Give thanks for all of the people who are making a difference in the lives of these children, in ways both big and small.

I am thankful each and every day to be part of a community of people who care, and who are committed to creating a better world for all families. I am thankful for you, and all that you will do on behalf of the Family Equality community.