01/03/2014 09:28 am ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Your Most Important New Year's Resolution From The Let Love Define Family Series

Let Love Define Family Series

This week’s Huffington Post Gay Voices RaiseAChild.US Let Love Define Family installment features a special New Year’s challenge from RaiseAChild.US co-founder and CEO Rich Valenza.

What could be the most important New Year’s resolution of your entire life?

I’m talking big. The most important New Year’s resolution of your life has everything to do with self-improvement. However, it’s not about weight loss and it’s not about exercise. It’s about love.

2014 has just started so there is plenty of time to consider changing or adding one resolution to your list that will absolutely change your life. It is the same resolution I myself made eight years ago and I am so glad I did it.

We at RaiseAChild.US ask you to consider building a family of your own through fostering and adoption. Make parenting a foster child your #1 resolution for 2014, and we will be right here with you to help you throughout the process.

Need to think about it? Of course, it is a very big commitment. While you are doing that, let me provide some simple encouragement and motivation.

Please take a look at the faces of the children in the accompanying photos. Take a look at their expressions. Take a look at how tightly they are holding on to their siblings. Through no fault of their own, these kids have been dealt a bad hand in life. You can change that.

These kids are waiting for a good home. Maybe a home like yours.

These children are hoping for a parent who will love them, care for them, and provide for them. Maybe a parent like you.

All children deserve a safe, loving, and permanent home. At RaiseAChild.US, we believe in the good of all children and the potential of all loving families. We educate and encourage the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (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.

At this very moment, there are 538 children who are immediately available for adoption through the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. That number includes every child in these photographs. Family reunification services have been terminated for these children and there is a shortage of good homes and willing parents in Los Angeles to care for these kids. It is my New Year’s resolution to address this crisis and I hope you will help. Whether you live in Southern California or most anywhere in the United States, RaiseAChild.US can help you take the steps to have these children or children like them placed in your home.

Some weeks ago, in our “Let Love Define Family” series, we featured a 17-year-old foster youth who has spent 10 years waiting for a family to call his own. The reader response to Ruben’s story was incredibly heartwarming as LGBT people from Minnesota, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, and California contacted RaiseAChild.US offering to open their homes to Ruben. In all, fourteen LGBT homes offered to make Ruben a part of their family. Today, Ruben has some tremendous options and choices open to him.

We know that LGBT individuals and couples can make great parents for children in foster care. Many of us have experienced some sort of rejection or hurt in our own lives. That collective experience makes us a compassionate community with a great capacity to understand foster children.

The County of Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services, like most agencies serving foster children, charges no fees to adopt or foster. In fact, health insurance and a small monthly amount to assist with the child’s living expenses are often provided until the child turns 18 years of age. If you are single, you don’t need to wait until you have a partner. All RaiseAChild.US partner agencies work with serve both singles and couples.

Let’s get started and make 2014 a great year for children waiting in foster care. Learn more about building a family of your own through fostering and adoption. RaiseAChild.US is here to help by providing free services to all prospective foster and adoptive parents. As adoptive parents themselves, our Parent Advocates are available to answer questions and help you with information and resources. Please visit our website at www.RaiseAChild.US and take the “Next Step.”

RaiseAChild.US is a national organization headquartered in Hollywood, California that 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. RaiseAChild.US wishes to thank the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and the Children’s Action Network for their cooperation with this week’s article.



Your Most Important New Year’s Resolution