This week’s Huffington Post Gay Voices RaiseAChild.US Let Love Define Family installment features a call to action by RaiseAChild.US co-founder and CEO Rich Valenza
As we are about to close out an amazing year of historic advancements toward equality, this is a great time for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community to do a little reflection and self-assessment.
For so many years, LGBT people have had our heads down fighting battles on so many fronts. Over time, our common battles have made us strong and often unified us. Maybe you are of the early generation who took to the streets to protest police brutality. Maybe you were one of the brave individuals to act up at a time when our country was afraid to mention AIDS. Maybe you volunteered for phone banks to ask people in other states to vote for marriage equality. Or maybe you have fought your own personal battle with family members who refuse or don’t yet know how to respect the person that you are. In the face of all of this, we have become accustomed to being on the defensive as we have learned how to fight for our rights, our self-respect, and our dignity.
Think about all that we’ve learned and accomplished with our collective strength. So try to imagine, for a moment, the new life that awaits us beyond our equality fight. Together, let’s consider a new direction. Let’s dare to dream about a new role for the LGBT community in American society. In this New Year, let’s begin to imagine all the good we can do.
For 2014, I have a bold New Year’s resolution. It is pretty lofty. To be honest, I’ve had this same dream for a few years now. I’ve kept it stored away in my own closet. But only now, in light of all of the recent equality accomplishments, do I feel that I can openly share it with you.
My New Year resolution, through the work of RaiseAChild.US, a national nonprofit I co-founded in 2011, is to help chart a new course for the LGBT movement. I dream that our community will begin to clear a brand new path in society in which we LGBT people openly demonstrate our compassion, our strength, our abilities, and our good.
After our fight for equality, there are many other issues for us to consider. Whether it is the environment, social issues, or public policy, numerous causes are worthy of our attention. But, among them all, there is one issue that we LGBT people can actually solve. This solution will ultimately benefit both the LGBT community and society as a whole. I ask that our community seriously consider the good we could do by building families of our own through the foster care system.
For too many years, the numbers have remained steady: 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system with over 100,000 of those children available immediately for adoption. In recent decades, there are more state laws to support fostering and adoption by LGBT parents. Today, there are fewer groups and organizations working to prevent LGBT people from becoming foster and adoptive parents, likely because longitudinal research is stacking up to prove them wrong. We LGBT people have a long history of making great parents, building healthy families, and raising well-balanced children.
Let love define family.
Studies at the Williams Institute, a national think tank at UCLA School of Law, demonstrate that our LGBT community could be the solution to our nation’s foster care crisis. They have reported that two million GLB people are interested in adopting. More than half of all gay men and nearly half of all lesbians have considered building families through adoption. So compare the numbers. Two million people interested in taking the next step to building families who could provide safe, loving, and permanent homes for the 400,000 children in the foster system. The numbers work. We can do this!
So I ask you, in this New Year, in this time of reflection and resolution, to please join me in imagining what is ahead and a new purpose for our LGBT community. Let’s finish this equality battle so that we can move on to do other good work.
I wish us all a very happy, healthy, and truly inspired New Year.
RaiseAChild.US educates and encourages the LGBT community to build families through fostering and adoption to answer the needs of the 400,000 children in our nation's foster care system. RaiseAChild.US works with foster and adoption agencies that have received training in LGBT cultural competence through the Human Right’s Campaign Foundation’s “All Children – All Families” initiative. Since 2011, RaiseAChild.US has run media campaigns to educate prospective parents and the public, and has engaged more than 2,000 prospective parents. For more information, visit www.raiseachild.us.