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RaiseAChild helps build loving LGBTQ families

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Despite the dramatic promises proffered by reality TV star Donald J. Trump during his presidential campaign and the Republican convention, “LGBTQ progress is being reversed in plain sight” for more than 11 million LGBTQ American citizens during his administration, ProPublica pointed out in a Nov. 22 report.

Among the rights being rolled back is federal support for same-sex couples and LGBTQ individuals building a family through foster care and adoption.

“Child welfare providers will never be forced to choose between their faith and serving those in need — not on our watch,” evangelical-centered Vice President Mike Pence said in a speech at the Department of Health and Human Services on Nov. 1, the first day of National Adoption Month.

HHS announced “a new proposed rule that would allow adoption and foster care agencies funded by the department to turn away would-be care providers who are LGBTQ,” ProPublica noted, dropping enforcement of and rolling back regulations that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity by any HHS grant recipients. Specifically, “the rule seemed to target child welfare programs — and same-sex couples are more likely to adopt or foster children.” Additionally, HHS halted a plan to collect LGBTQ information about foster children, as well as foster and adoptive parents or guardians.

As of 2017, about 442,995 children were in foster care, disproportionally children of color.

That the Trump/Pence administration reversed the Obama administration’s child-friendly rules based more on anti-LGBTQ hatred than sincere Christian belief may be extrapolated from a Nov. 19 nationwide Hill-HarrisX poll showing that 66% of Republican voters say child welfare providers should not be able to discriminate against LGBTQ parents by turning them away from fostering or adopting a child in need. Indeed, the poll indicated that 72% of voters overall say federally funded adoption and foster care agencies should not be permitted to deny service to LGBTQ prospective parents.

One consequence of the Trump/Pence action has been self-censure, with one prospective gay dad telling the Los Angeles Blade that he and his husband fear the humiliation of being turned away by an agency or having the heartbreak of a child taken away by the government.

That wouldn’t happen in California, says Rich Valenza, founder and CEO of RaiseAChild, the Los Angeles-based national LGBTQ-oriented non-profit organization that grew out of the West Hollywood-based Pop Luck Club support group for gay dads.

“This is RaiseAChild’s ninth year in business and every one of the nine years we get asked by LGBTQ people: Am I allowed to foster and adopt?” Valenza, father of two adopted children, tells the Los Angeles Blade, adding that California has a longstanding law prohibiting discrimination in LGBTQ adoptions.

“In this political climate, folks understandably are nervous,” Valenza says. “But I don’t believe there is a reason to be nervous, as far as LGBT people going through the process to foster and adopt and build families. Public opinion has been in our favor for many, many, many years.”

Under President Obama, “if you’re receiving federal funding as an agency, then you don’t have the right to discriminate against taxpayers who are helping pay your bill,” Valenza says. “But under this administration, they are allowing for what they call ‘religious freedoms’ — what I see as a very dangerous policy because it’s not good for the kids. Each year we’re adding more and more children to the foster system because of the opioid epidemic, because of families falling apart. And what we need is more good people to step up and to foster and adopt. We don’t need to allow discrimination.”

Indeed, governmental agencies responsible for child welfare, such as San Bernardino County and LA County’s Department of Children and Family Services say, “some of their best families are LGBTQ-headed. They call them ‘resource families.’ It’s a name that someone in Sacramento made up, meaning both foster and adoptive parents.”

Not only do LGBTQ people create good families, they often foster and adopt more than one or two children.

“Many of our families are taking on more and more kids. And it’s really a wonderful thing because I know that these kids are getting a very loving home and a nurturing home within our community,” says Valenza.

“We, as a community, most of us, have experienced the disappointment or the rejection of our families in coming out,” he says. “And when you talk about foster kids, there’s a deep profound sense of rejection that they feel by their birth parents. I think that our community has a special empathy for that, a special understanding of that. And so, I think that’s a reason why we make such great foster and adoptive parents.”

Additionally, “people are looking to build families because they feel there’s not much that they can do against what seems to be happening in this administration,” Valenza. says. “But they do feel that they can control what’s going on within their home and they want to make a difference. So we’re finding a lot of people saying, ‘This is something that I can do that’s good to reverse the effects of all of the negatives.’ And we’re here to support those people because it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing.”

RaiseAChild is holding a Fostering & Adoption information event on Dec 4 from 6:30-8 p.m. at La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, 501 N. Main St. DTLA.

PHOTO: Oscar and Adam Kaiz-Vera with their five adopted children; with a foster child coming. (Photo courtesy RaiseAChild)

 

 

 

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RaiseAChild- Fierce, fabulous, & oh yeah, “honey don’t forget the kids”

“What happens to being like a fierce, fabulous, gay? All of a sudden, I’m living the life my parents lived.”

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Courtesy of Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews

LOS ANGELES – RaiseAChild over the past decade has become the national leader in the recruitment and support of LGBTQ+ and all prospective parents interested in building families through fostering and fostering-to-adopt, to meet the needs of the approximately 440,000 children caught up in the U.S. foster care system.

This year in celebration of its tenth anniversary, the LA-based organization is holding its RaiseAChild HONORS.

One of the organization’s success stories is a theatre arts couple, Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews, a husband-and-husband team of writers and composer-lyricists whose contributions to musicals and the world of Broadway have been acclaimed.

In 2019, the venerable theatre industry trade publication Playbill, profiled this dynamic couple noting, “The two come from opposite backgrounds: Matthews is an African-American Christian man from Pittsburgh, Gould is a white Jewish-American man from New York City. As they grappled with the gulf between their respective roots, they found common ground during a trip to Germany when they took Matthews’ grandfather, who had liberated Dachau, to visit the hallowed ground for his 80th birthday. Gould had lost ancestors to the Holocaust. Suddenly it hit them: blacks, Jews, gays, all would have been killed on that land 70 years ago. The branches of their family histories are intertwined. And so they began what would become The Family Project, a musical told in vignettes as a song cycle.

Courtesy of Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews

But when the theatres are dark this theatrical power-couple are engaged in what Gould told the Blade in a recent interview, “What happens to being like a fierce, fabulous, gay? Who just travels, and has dogs and a fierce life? All of a sudden, I’m living the life my parents lived. I thought we were supposed to be special.”

The life as a family and as parents has somewhat altered things around the their home. Asked about the impact being foster parents has had on their home life? Matthews fired back; “Loud.”

Gould chimed in saying, “The Black Christian and the white Jew have been joined by a quarter-Armenian, quarter-Ukrainian, half-Russian foster son, Galileo, and a  half-Cambodian, half-remains to be seen, little boy, Apollo. Those are our two foster sons.”

I mean, obviously, we are married, we have two kids now. But I also think that we realized we didn’t have to make all the same choices that our parents made. That we could still live a fierce, fabulous life while having all of the fierce fabulousness of being a parent, and being married. That has been a really important discovery – that that life is not about either-or,” he added.

His husband offered the background adding how how their family was melded together through RaiseAChild;

There was a big campaign all over LA for LGBTQ+ family members to become foster parents – again, 45,000 kids need people to be parents. The party – it was a party, go figure – was at Fred Segal on Melrose. [ A famed LA retailer ] Could it be any gayer? Hosted by Alec Mapa and his husband. And we went to Fred Segal, we’re all dressed up and they’re passing champagne, Alec Mapa is doing a set; that was how they got us to be foster parents,” Matthews said.

“Alec Mapa was so funny that night – he and his husband already had a foster son who they had adopted. He was making light of something that feels so heavy. I think it was really good for us to see Alec do that thing. That was the start of us getting involved with Raise a Child,” he added.

Talking about their musical, ‘The Family Project’, Gould noted;

That is a documentary musical we wrote about our families. It’s set up to answer the question of “how does a Black Christian gay man and a white Jewish gay man – that come from these legacies of Holocaust and slavery – how do we learn how to, at the most basic level, get along?”  Because we really are two different cultures that don’t necessarily speak the same language. How do we now form a new language that we can speak to one another in?”

Reflecting for a moment Matthews offered, “It’s also about our generation. We’re the first generation of ‘free’ gay men, right? Like the generation ahead of us, they couldn’t get married, so they weren’t getting married, or they were getting married in secret. We were the first generation that was like, yep, you can get married, and you can have kids!

The musical is about trying to tackle the heteronormative expectations that we place on ourselves. It goes into all different places of not just culture – racial culture, religious culture – but also American culture.”

His husband said that their theatrical careers and also parenting is something that they have found is a very workable part of their daily lives. A commitment that Gould noted on becoming parents, “… took us another five years to actually go through with the full training, and actually become a parent.”

Courtesy of Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews

Of immediate concern though to this fierce and fabulous parental unit is the approaching all-time important holiday of Halloween. “You cannot imagine how much Halloween we’ve been talking about in this house. Galileo insisted on being a spider. Nana and Tata sent him a spider costume, he’s freaking out – he’s so excited. He asks everyday, “is it Halloween?” Matthews said.

Asked what their plans were- beyond trick-or-treating? Gould wryly remarked; “We’re going to survive.”

Editor’s note: If you are interested in becoming a foster parent or wish to adopt, RaiseAChild has developed a system to find – and then support – people who are interested in becoming foster and foster-to-adopt parents. As a result, RaiseAChild out-performs the national standard by advancing 23% of prospective foster and adoptive parents from inquiry to certification.

RaiseAChild produces foster and adoption informational programs to support, educate, and motivate prospective parents. These events feature a diverse panel of parents who share their foster and adoption experiences and advice with new prospective parents.

The RaiseAChild Parent Advocate Program is a unique and complimentary service designed to advance prospective foster and adoptive parents with their family-building goals. Our program includes personal mentor services, a nationwide referral network, and proprietary software case management program that enables RaiseAChild to follow and support parents throughout the process. From orientation to training and throughout the child matching process, our Parent Advocates are there to assist with your concerns and questions.

To learn more visit RaiseAChild at https://raiseachild.org/we-build-families/ or email
[email protected]. If you are in the greater Los Angeles area the number to call is (323) 417-1440.

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Writing and editing by Brody Levesque with research by Alejandro Cervantes

 

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The stork delivered- Chasten & Pete are parents welcoming two kids

The happy couple delivered the news Saturday via their social media accounts

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U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and his husband Chasten with their children (Photo Credit: Pete Buttigieg)

WASHINGTON – In a happy tweet and on Instagram Saturday morning, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and his husband Chasten announced the arrival of their children Penelope Rose and Joseph August Buttigieg into their home and lives.

The couple first announced in an August tweet that they had become parents and were awaiting the necessary completion of the process.

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PFLAG congrats Transportation Secretary on ‘cigar moment’

Buttigieg announced that he and his husband Chasten commenced growing their family. “We’re overjoyed to share that we’ve become parents!”

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U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg with husband Chasten (Photo Credit: Pete Buttigieg Twitter Account)

WASHINGTON – In a statement Tuesday on his personal Twitter account, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg announced that he and his husband Chasten have commenced growing their family. “We’re overjoyed to share that we’ve become parents!” Buttigieg wrote.

This happy announcement was immediately greeted with congratulations from PFLAG, the first and largest organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people, their parents and families, and allies, in an Instagram post:

Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute also weighed in congratulating the couple;

“On the campaign trail, Pete and Chasten upended stereotypes and transformed perceptions for millions of Americans less familiar with LGBTQ people and their lives. As parents, they will now shine a national spotlight on LGBTQ families, who often face daunting challenges because of outdated policies that narrowly define what families are. Their adoption is an opportunity to have a national dialogue about creating a legal and legislative framework that supports all parents and children. Yet this is primarily about love and family, and we are absolutely thrilled for Pete and Chasten and know they will be fantastic fathers.”

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