The first person I ever really understood was adopted was my friend Anne. She lived just three doors away, and we’ve been friends literally our entire lives. As a matter of fact, our families have been friends going back to our grandparents’ time.
Back when we were kids, it was pretty commonplace not to tell kids that they were adopted. Apparently, people believed the child and parents would never bond if they didn’t share DNA, or that there was something wrong with couples that couldn’t reproduce. But Anne’s parents were always open, honest, and proud parents. Maybe that’s why I always looked to them as role models for Kelly and me as we embarked on our own journey to becoming parents.
For the first time ever, in 2019 the American Community Survey asked respondents if “they are same-sex or opposite-sex spouses or partners.” That seemingly simple question opened the floodgates for the U.S. Census Bureau to gain heretofore unknown insights into the country’s families. They learned that whereas just under 7 percent of gay male couples are fathers, a whopping 22.5 percent of lesbian couples have children. And more than one in five of those kids with gay parents is adopted. The survey also showed that LGBTQ+ people are three times more likely to adopt than straight couples, and twice as likely to foster kids.
As a gay dad whose sons are adopted, reading those stats makes me immensely proud of our community.
And we’re slowly gaining the recognition and respect our families deserve. According to a study commissioned by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (yes, the founder of Wendy’s, who was himself adopted), over the past 15 years, we’ve seen some modest progress in the acceptance of gay parenthood.
Back in 2007, just 33 percent of the study’s respondents believed that same-sex parents could provide a healthy and loving environment for children. By 2021 that number had jumped to 46 percent. At first glance, that’s still a rather disappointing number; more than half of those that answered the question either do not believe or were unsure that gay parents can offer that type of environment.
“While we still have much to do, the Foundation’s 2022 U.S. Adoption and Foster Care Attitudes Survey shows that more Americans are supporting same-sex adoptions and believing that a same-sex couple can provide a safe and loving adoptive family. We are excited that more U.S. families are open to adoption in general and considering foster care adoption at higher rates than we’ve ever seen,” said Rita Soronen, president & CEO of the Foundation.
Actually, none of the categories – single parents, single adoptive parents, those raising adopted kids with a different religion, adoptive parents over 55, and adoptive parents over 65 – hit the 50 percent mark. That’s why the Foundation is actively working to dispel a multitude of myths that often surround adoption.
“We believe that every child waiting in foster care deserves a safe, loving, and permanent home, no matter their age, the circumstances surrounding their journey through foster care, or how they identify themselves,” Soronen added. “We are dedicated to dispelling the myths and misperceptions that too often surround why youth are in foster care and who can adopt these children, which simply creates barriers to permanency. At the heart of our work is an unrelenting commitment to every child’s right to a stable and loving environment in which to thrive.”
That’s exactly what my friend Anne’s parents did — provided a stable and loving environment for their kids to thrive. And not just their kids but every kid that walked through their door.