There is a framework for Intercountry Adoption, which all practitioners know very well, and use very well: http://www.aai.gov.ie/index.php/intercountry-adoption/standard-framework-for-ica.html
But it does not provide specific guidance for every specific “adoptive community”. And the LGBT community is nothing but ordinary.
There is guidance to deal with single adoptive parents, married couples, people who cannot speak enough English, people who had to deal with grief or fertility issues. But not much for LGBT people.
This post is open to comments, and will be updated to provide guidance to the adoption professionals who are interested.
They can post questions, and anyone can post suggestions.
Here is, for a start, a list of obvious things
Feel free to comment on that list, to suggest more reading material, and to ask questions on specific issues (you can decide to not publish your comments and they will be answered confidentially, otherwise contact us by email).
- Enquire of the terminology they are more comfortable using.
Some people will never utter the word “gay”, others will use it in every sentence.
Do no assume anything. For instance a lot of LGBT people will not want to use, or hear, about “pink adoptions” or “pink families”.
- If you are aware of negative personal prejudices you may have towards LGBT people, remove yourself from the process: you will not be able to work around these prejudices;
- Some LGBT people will make good parents, others will not; assessing them is the same as for any other unmarried people/couples;
- LGBT parents are as valid parents as anyone else: they expect that the adoption professional do not query their ability to parent on the ground of their sexuality or “community”;
- LGBT parents are just like anybody else: they understand that their ability to parent will be queried, on the basis of their ability to parent;
- There is not one unified LGBT community… “our lot” covers as many different sub-cultures are there are in any other community in Ireland;
- LGBT people expect to be treated as individuals;
- LGBT people have a specific worry about being accused of being potential abusers, and to be amalgamated with pedophiles;
- LGBT people’s sexuality is like any body’s sexuality: it is a matter of intimacy between consenting adults;
- LGBT couples do not deprive a child from gender balance in role models: children are raised into a community, not a closed entity with only their parents;
- LGBT couples have a better understanding of how oppressive forces work in society, and how to deal with “being different”; some may have more difficulties with it though, so no assumptions can be made in that area;
- LGBT people are not activists who use the adoption process to make a political point;
- The LGBT community is divided on the issue of raising children, adoption and the institution of marriage;
- Prospective adoptive parents may have a specific “LGBT community reaction” to deal with, and a specific fear of rejection once they have adopted;
- It is why it is important to help them build a support network for their “pink household”;
- Do not be afraid to ask ay question in the back of your head, even if you think it is offensive or too sensitive. Just be sensitive in the way you ask.
After all you will be advocating for them so if you have a question in the back of your head… so will the people you will have to convince on their behalf.
- Do not assume that all the stereotypes are true (e.g., lesbians are herbal-tea drinking men haters and gay men are promiscuous).
- Do not be surprised when some seem to be true. Do not take it as a sign that they are anything but prejudices and stereotypes.
- When the applicants seem to conform to a stereotype, do not assume it is a consequence of being gay.
- Think twice before asking “who’s the wife” in the relationship. Would you ask such a question to a mix-gender couple? Rather ask who is in charge in the various areas of their communal life (finances, cleaning, car, repairs, hosting, etc.). You will soon realize that they share the load like any couple, but not along sexist values.
Some LGBT-specific areas for the home study
Here are some of the items taken from the Spanish “Manual Para Intervenciones Profesionales En Adopción Internacional”, as regard what has to be assessed specificaly when the applcants “homosexual” . (Google translation…)
They assess this area for anyone who has ever had a homosexual realtionship, even if they do not (or no longer) identify as homosexual.
Special educational ability
- Ability to assist the adoptee with the development of sexual identity and to address the environment of inappropriate.
Important things to explore as regard identity exploration
- Emergence, development and current status of sexual orientation
- Current experience of homosexuality and homophobia
- Sources of support
- Thoughts on gay adoption
- Attitudes of child to homoparental adoption
- Reaction to homophobia towards the child
- Gender identity of the adoptee
Past experience and integration of homosexuality
Discovery of homosexuality
- How and when did you realize you were gay?
- Who knew what your sexual orientation was?
- When his homosexuality became known, what were the reactions of others and what impact did they have on you?
- What was you family’s reaction, and what impact did it have on you?
- Referring to the past, not the present, what relationships have you had?
- How long have they lasted?
- How did they start, how long did they last, how and why did they break up?
Acceptance and integration of homosexuality
- When did you discover your sexual orientation?
- ccept it at the outset or did it take some time to accept it?
- On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is no accepted and 5 is fully accepted, to what extent would you say you have now accepted and are now assuming your sexual orientation?
Integration of homosexuality – current situation and family experience
- How would you say you live your sexual orientation?
- Do you have a relationship now?
- When did that relationship start?
- How would you describe yourself? (If any relationship, should explore the section on relationships [included in the handbook but not presented here])
- Who knows about your sexual orientation and who knows your current partner?
- To what extent is it an open or a secret relationship?
Explore knowledge in the family, friends and work
- To what extent are your relationships with family members, friends or business affected by your sexual orientation?
- How would you describe the attitude of these people towards your partner and your relationship?
Relationships with non-cohabiting partner
(If you have a stable relation with another person but do not live together)
- What attitude does that person have with respect to the proposed adoption?
- To what extent will they participate or play a role in the daily life of the child?
- Which tasks will they be involved with, and which will they not share?
- Have you ever had to deal with homophobic situations or reactions?
- When your sexual orientation became known and when you were met with the first manifestations of homophobia, hat was your reaction?
- How did you experience those reactions?
- To what point is homophobia important in your life?
- How does it affect you?
- What concerns you most?
- What is your most recent experience of homophobia?
- What happened and how did you react?
- How was the situation resolved?
- What social relations do you have as an individual? As a couple?
- Do you know of other homosexual people or homosexual couples with children?
- How do you relate to them?
- What is the influence of homosexuality on these children from their parents or their mothers?
- What are your main sources of support?
- Who do you turn to when you encounter a problem? (For example, need money, get sick and need help, have a concern and need to share with someone or ask for advice).
- What kind of support do each of these people offer you?
- How satisfied are you with the response you get when you ask them for help?
Homosexuality and adoption
Opinions, pros and cons
- implications for adopters and adoptees of an adoption by homosexuals?
- What worries you most about it?
- How do you think you can solve it?
- What support and what opposition did you find when you decided to adopt?
- Do you know homosexuals who have adopted?
Reactions of the adoptee
- Will the child referred to you be prepared to meet with homosexuals parents?
- How can they be affected by knowing that they will go to a house where there are two mothers or two fathers?
- How should you prepare the child to it?
- Who should do it, and when?
- What role do you think you should play I that respect?
- What do you have to do?
- How do you plan or intend to introduce the child to the subject of differences between his family and the families of most of his friends and colleagues?
Gender identity of the adopted child
As you probably know, one of the fears that some people express about adoption by homosexuals has to do with the concern of how gender identity develops in the child (knowing oneself, recognizing oneself and accepting oneself as a boy or as a girl).
- What would you have to say about it?
- What significant people of the opposite sex will there be in the life of the child?
- What opportunities will the child have to understand that there are also heterosexual relationships and couples?
It is likely that the attitude of friends and colleagues of the child learning of the sexual orientation of the child’s adoptive parents will be of surprise, rejection or anger.
- What do you think should be done about it?
- How can you prepare the child to deal with such situations?
- What else could you or should you do?
Imagine that after learning that their fathers or mothers are gay, there is a group of friends of your son or daughter who no longer wants to play more with the child. The child is very sad because those friends were very important.
- What would you do?
- What would help the child?
Imagine that one day you discover that your son or daughter completely hides the fact that he or she has (a) gay parent(s), even to his closest friends. Even lying about it.
- What would be your response?
- How would you treat the matter with the child?
Criteria for decision making
Indicators of positive assessment
- Sexual orientation clearly established, to overcome any uncertainties and doubts of the past.
- Healthy and positive experience of sexual orientation.
- If it exists, current stable and positive relationship.
- Knowledge of sexual orientation by significant others.
- Ability to deal with homophobia in a sound and reasonable fashion.
- Existence of sources of stable, meaningful support, nearby.
- If you keep a stable relationship with a person you do not live together, who is supposed to play a significant role in the life of the adoptee: person’s commitment to the proposed adoption, with shared tasks and mutual responsibilities.
- Awareness of potential pitfalls of homoparental adoption and sensitivity to the possible related prejudice or childhood problems.
- Attitudes towards child’s gender identity that will allow adequate development and opportunity to interact with people of of non-homosexual orientation.
- Ability to respond to these prejudices or problems so that it promotes the interests and needs of the adoptee.
- Sexual orientation is not clearly established.
- Experience problems of sexual identity, not fully accepted.
- Lack of stability in current relationships.
- Difficulties in communication about sexual orientation with significant others.
- Absence or scarcity of sources stable, meaningful support, nearby.
- If you keep a stable relationship with a person you do not live together, who is supposed to have some role in the life of the child or the child: that person does not share the proposed adoption or is deemed to be interfering in the relations of the adopter with the adoptee.
- Denial or underestimation of the difficulties that may arise for the child adopted by homosexuals.
- Attitudes regarding the development of gender identity may hinder their free development, for example, limiting their relationships primarily to gay models.
- Inability to properly assist the child or the child to deal with homophobic reactions from others.