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Steve Majors

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Every Child Deserves a Family

Posted: 11/09/11 02:44 PM ET

November is National Adoption Month, a time set aside each year by child welfare and family advocacy groups to raise awareness about the plight of the more than 404,000 children living in foster care.

This year, we have reason to believe that the message is getting out.

From the President to Congress to the media, the growing chorus is that every child deserves a family.

Last week, 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. The reality of today's America is that LGBT families are part of the fabric of this country, and the president's statement reaffirms his support of our community.

The proclamation follows another supportive statement issued by the White House last week regarding the Every Child Deserves a Family Act.

Family Equality Council has been working for some time on this important legislation, and we are now thrilled that ECDF has been introduced in the Senate by lead sponsor Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

If enacted, it would dramatically increase the access foster children have to permanent and stable homes by discouraging state laws, policies and practices that exclude potential adoptive and foster parents because of their marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.

A companion bill (H.R. 1681) was introduced in the House last May by Representative by Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) during National Foster Care Awareness Month. The House bill now has 80 bipartisan co-sponsors.

In addition to the president, Senator Gillibrand, Representative Stark and lawmakers in Congress elevating discussion of this issue, this month, we are hearing more about it in the media.

Family Equality Council, in cooperation with the Center for American Progress and the Movement Advancement Project, recently published "All Children Matter," a comprehensive report on the LGBT family.

The groundbreaking new report shows how 2 million children have become collateral damage of decades of ideology, laws and policies designed to hurt lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans.

The report findings include evidence that a patchwork of discriminatory state laws and policies are excluding qualified LGBT parents from the pool of foster and adoptive parents. Those policies are in effect denying homes to the 115,000 children who are eligible for adoption each year.

The report includes a recommendation that Congress pass the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, which would discourage states from keeping those laws and policies on the books.

The release of the report generated a great deal of media attention, with the articles printed in hundreds of print and online publications nationwide.

In spite of this growing national dialogue on adoption, there is reason for continued urgency.

Each year, 25,000 children age out of the foster care system without finding their forever family.

So this year, let's make November about more than National Adoption Month; let's make it a time for us all to remember the blessings of family and a time to remember that every child deserves a family.