There are currently about 3,000 kids in Michigan available for adoption.
Michigan can't afford to turn away any qualified parent interested in adoption. The recently passed faith-based adoption law, however, gives agencies (including those that receive state funding) the freedom to close their doors to otherwise qualified parents who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ).
Governor Snyder says agencies who refuse to work with same-sex couples based on religious objection need to refer them to an agency that will work with them. But so far, there isn't a central list of these agencies; the state doesn't offer one. This brings us to another question: how are "LGBTQ-friendly" agencies identified?
Infowire is working on putting together a list of adoption agencies that offer services for LGBTQ youth and families. For now, there are tips at the bottom of this post for families looking for an agency to work with.
Here's where things stand right now:
The Department of Health and Human Services refers everyone - gay or straight- interested in adoption to the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange. In a listing of over 80 adoption agencies from their website, only one is self-described as LGBTQ affirming. This still doesn't tell us what services they offer or how they support LGTBQ families and youth.
There are organizations who are working to streamline this identification process for same-sex families, including Equality Michigan. Leah Taraskiewicz says they did a preliminary survey of adoption agencies across the state to ask if they would discriminate against same-sex couples or LGTBQ individuals looking to adopt. They developed this map based off their findings. It doesn't reflect what specific services each agency offers or if they're open to working with LGBTQ youth in care.
Two Michigan agencies have received the Human Rights Campaign Seal of Approval for working with LGBTQ families: Hands Across the Water in Ann Arbor and Fostering Futures in Ypsilanti. To get the seal, these agencies had to prove they meet 10 benchmarks - things like having a client non-discrimination policy and using inclusive language ("Parent 1" and "Parent 2" instead of "Mother" and "Father").
Until more Michigan agencies are awarded the HRC Seal of Approval, or the state comes up with a way to identify LGBTQ-friendly agencies, same-sex couples are left to navigate this process on their own.
We came up with a list of questions to help LGBTQ couples find an agency they can work with:
- Does the agency have a policy about working with LGTBQ people?
- What about with LGBTQ young people?
- Has the agency worked with LGBTQ families (or LGBTQ young people) in the past?
- Does it have any resources specifically for LGBTQ families? What about LGBTQ young people?
- Does the adoption agency’s client non-discrimination statement include the terms “sexual orientation” or “gender identity”?
- Does the agency use LGBTQ inclusive paperwork?
- Did the agency make any kind of statement regarding the new faith-based adoption law?
- Does the agency have an established process for dealing with discrimination?
- Can the agency provide inclusive referrals for outside services?
If you'd like to share your experience with same-sex adoption in Michigan, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.