A long-time adoption advocate who was the first — and for many years the only — provider who would work with LGBTQ couples or individuals is a recipient of the 2022 Kristen Ries Community Service Award. Suzanne Stott will be awarded at the Utah Pride Festival on Sunday morning, June 5.
Stott started the adoption agency Families for Children in Salt Lake City in 1985 and was a pioneer in guiding gay and lesbian individuals and couples through the process of adopting a child.
“Gay and lesbian couples in the 1990s and into the 2000s, prior to marriage equality in 2014, had to utilize second-parent adoptions to achieve equal legal status as parents,” wrote nominators Jackie Biskupski and Laura Milliken Gray. “This was necessary for inheritance, insurance, and to secure rights as an unmarried, non-biological parent. Suzanne was the first, and for a long time the only, agency willing to do these evaluations for gay and lesbian couples.”
As an attorney, Gray worked with Stott on numerous same-sex adoption cases and credits Suzanne for protecting dozens of her clients’ children.
Biskupski received a home study from Stott while in the process of adopting her son, Archie, in 2009. She called her caring, courteous, and very helpful.
Stott stood solid with her efforts even when those around her disagreed.
“Why would I turn someone down because of a label regarding their sexual orientation?” Stott asked. “My first successful couple I helped were two men. They had a very positive parenting experience, and their children are now adults and have their own successful lives.”
Stott was a Stake Relief Society President for six years while assisting these couples. She used this position to try to open hearts and minds. It came to her naturally to be an ambassador and ally for the gay community, Biskupski and Gray said.
It is estimated Stott facilitated close to 100 adoptions on behalf of the LGBTQ community in Utah.