Fostering or adopting a child can be one of the most loving, giving, rewarding, and challenging deeds you can ever do. However, going into this blindly can lead to various kinds of failures as a parent or a decision to abandon the child back into the system again. If you are considering an LGBT adoption or fostering a child who identifies as LGBTQ, you should get some additional guidance on how to handle these sensitive challenges you and your child may face.
Difficulties in Finding Adoptions
Many children struggle to find adoptive parents. As a general rule, babies and younger children are chosen first, and children who are physically, mentally, and emotionally fit spend less time in foster care or orphanages than those with special needs. Children who identify as LGBTQ are usually both older and sometimes treated as if their LGBTQ identity is a special need.
Challenges for Potential Parents
Parents of children who identify as LGBTQ may face cultural challenges from multiple perspectives. Sexuality is a complicated human condition which involves an interaction between certain biological conditions, psychological bearings, and environmental conditions. It has been culturally and politically polarized in such ways that everyone wants expert answers, yet there are very few “experts” on the subject. Every answer given comes with baggage.
Overcoming These Challenges
How can either adoptive or foster parents successfully raise a healthy and happy LGBTQ youth? With sexuality as such a hot-button issue, there are two things you can do to help raise your LGBTQ identifying youth.
First, take every opinion with a grain of salt. What does that mean? Don’t be afraid to question everything. Sexuality is not choosing between two boxes. It is customized to individuals and can change over time. Be aware and be careful about who you are letting influence your decisions.
Second, but equally important, make sure you are actively listening to your child. No one will know how they feel more than themselves. Trying to tell them how to feel may lead to more confusion. It is important to share your own thoughts and feelings as well, especially when they ask, but you may have to earn that privilege by spending a lot of time listening and learning them. As a parent, you are not required to be an expert in human sexuality. You should, however, strive to be an expert about your child as a whole person.
As an additional step, you should consider counseling for your child and yourself as well. Behavioral change may not be required for anyone in your family, but it would be helpful to have a safe place for everyone to share their feelings, and to be taught how to share these feelings with one another safely. Communication is vital for any family to weather the storms of life, and a good family counselor can help you learn those skills and work through tough issues together. In all likelihood, sexuality will not be the biggest challenge you encounter as an adoptive or foster parent to LGBTQ youth. Why not get started off working together?