Letter: Increasing Homes for Knoxville's Youth

The most significant and obvious challenge in the current foster care system is the lack of available, qualified, and stable homes for children in care. Unfortunately, many adoption agencies close their doors to some of these parents because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. The state of Tennessee does not have any legislation that prevents discrimination against the sexual orientation of the parent(s) seeking to adopt.

Thirty years of research show same-sex parents are just as good as any other parents, supporting the position that sexual orientation is a non-determinative factor in the success of parenting and the success of the children. Every national child welfare organization in the nation (including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Child Welfare League of America, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychological Association, the North American Council on Adoptable Children and the American Medical Association) has endorsed the ability of gays and lesbians to parent.

Most importantly, these nontraditional couples are ready and WILLING to adopt. Statistically, same-sex couples are six times more likely to adopt than heterosexual couples and four times more likely to foster. There are 104,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, yet states continue to close doors to qualified families.

Knoxville was voted the 8th gayest city in 2012 by The Advocate, a gay and lesbian magazine. The magazine says it based 2012's list on "subjective criteria" and looks at the "per capita queerness of some less expected locales." I would like to reference Metro Pulses' own article from last June which discusses this ranking in "How Gay is Knoxville, Really?" Author Mike Gibson discusses Knoxville's cultural diversity and celebrates Madeline Rogero for the headway she has made for LGBT citizens. Metro Pulse seems progressive in its feelings toward LGBT civil rights, for which I am grateful.

As a lesbian woman with the desire to one day have a child to call my own and raise to the very best of my ability, I hope that I can seek the route of adoption without facing heartbreaking adversity. There are children all across the nation who need homes, and there are qualified, loving people like myself being denied a chance to provide them.

Knoxville, I implore you to reach out to our district Congressional representative, Jimmy Duncan, or state Senators Corker and Alexander, and call them to support the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, which was introduced to both the House and the Senate in May of this year. This act seeks "to prohibit discrimination in adoption or foster care placements based on the sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status of any prospective adoptive or foster parent." This landmark act will help ease the hundreds of thousands of children in the country looking for their forever homes. Help us live up to our reputation as progressive, loving individuals that have the opportunity to enact real change.

Julia Woods