Adopting or Fostering a Child Who Identifies as LGBTQ
Children who identify as LGBTQ have a harder time finding foster or adoptive parents. How can adoptive or foster parents best raise a healthy and happy LGBTQ youth? Host Dawn Davenport, Executive Director of Creating a Family, the national infertility & adoption education and support nonprofit, interviews Mark Lacava, Clinical Director of the Modern Family Center at Spence-Chapin Services to Families and Children.
- There are approximately 175,000 youth ages 10–18 in foster care in the United States. Some estimates say 5–10 percent—and likely more—are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ). Are sexually non-conforming kids and youth more likely to end up in foster care?
- LGBTQ youth are more alike than different from other kids in foster care and have experienced the trauma of abuse and neglect. They need much of the same things: unconditional love, safe place to process their feelings of grief and loss, freedom to express who they are, and structure and rules to support them in becoming responsible, healthy adults.
- Resource mentioned in the show: Raising Transgender Children
- Cultural sensitivity begins with language. What is the correct language to use when referring to people within this community?
- At what age does gender identity begin to form?
- Can sexual identity be changed?
- At what age do most kids report knowing they are attracted to someone of the same sex?
- At what age, on average, do kids/youth begin to identify as LGBTQ?
- Can prior abuse cause a child to be gay or lesbian or identify as LGBTQ?
- Are LGBTQ youth more likely than other youth to be mentally ill?
- Are LGBTQ youth more likely to molest children or youth? Gay or transgender people are not more likely than heterosexuals or gender-conforming people to molest or otherwise pose a threat to children.
- Can we make any general statements on the mental health of LGBTQ youth? Although it is true that LGBTQ people experience higher rates of anxiety, depression, and related behaviors (including alcohol and drug abuse) than the general population, studies show that this is a result of the stress of being LGBTQ in an often-hostile environment, rather than a factor of a person’s LGBTQ identity itself. Professional mental health organizations agree that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and is a natural part of the human condition.
- Differences for parents when they accept a youth that has already identified as LGBTQ versus a child who comes out later as LGBTQ?
- What are some of the issues for the LGBTQ community in general that parents raising a child who will become an adult in this community need to be aware of?
- How to protect your child from prejudices within your extended family?
- Issues specific to parenting a transgender youth.
- How to help kids who are questioning and have not settled on a sexual orientation?
- National resources that adoptive and foster parents should be aware of.