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Gay Adoption and Fostering

Editorial:  Gay adoption and fostering is something that is now open to a lot of gay couples in the UK, are you able to provide a home to a child or teenager in need of love of support.   In 2014, some 7% of the children adopted in England went to same-sex couples, compared to 6% the year before. “The fact that the couple can both be legal parents matters enormously, because otherwise one has legal rights and one doesn’t,” Tor Docherty, chief executive of New Family Social(NFS), the charity for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) adopters and foster carers. says. 

Fears that children adopted by gay and lesbian couples do less well in life are completely unfounded, according to the first study into how children and parents in non-traditional families fare compared with heterosexual households.  The findings, from the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Family Research, have been published in a report by the British Association of Adoption and Fostering in March 2013.

If you feel you can foster a child, or adopt one, then please find out from your local services what their policies are.  A child somewhere needs a home and your support.

Amanda And Deena’s Story From The Let Love Define Family Series

Huff Post – Posted:

In North Central Florida, two women are busy helping local teens in foster care by welcoming them in to a home and family built on simple principles of love, respect, and equality. Contributing writer Beth Hallstrom shares their story in this week’s Huffington Post Gay Voices RaiseAChild.US “Let Love Define Family™” series installment during National Foster Care Month.

Amanda Williams and Deena Ruth, foster parents for the past four years and adoptive mothers of two, are passionate advocates for those they consider the most discriminated against and under-served in the foster care system: teenagers, especially teens in the LGBTQ community.

According to Amanda, “LGBTQ teens in general have a great need for support and guidance in the world, but especially in foster care. Often, there aren’t people to turn to or a place to feel safe and many of them won’t come out until they have left the foster care system.”

let love

“We focus on gay or questioning kids so they have a positive, functioning gay couple as a role model,” she said. Deena added, “But we fight for all teens, gay or straight. We’re gay, but that’s not all we are.”

Engaged for four and a half of the five years they’ve been together, Amanda, 32 and a medical social worker, and 37-year old Deena, who is the only female field technician for a telecommunications company, live in Alachua, Florida, a small town outside Gainesville.

They are currently fostering an 11-year old, whom they describe as funny, intelligent and a writer with plans to publish a book about vampires. They are also adoptive parents to daughter Caia, 20, and son Cade, who is 18. Both adopted children are among the 23 foster children welcomed to their home since 2011.

Deena said initially adoption wasn’t their plan, but when Caia moved in as a foster child at age 17, they felt an instant connection.

Amanda continued, “Over the next six months we all fell in love and, one night after dinner, we were talking about long-term medical decisions and Caia said, as a joke, we should just adopt her then. We had never thought of adoption, since Caia was almost 18, but in that moment we realized we weren’t complete without her. A year later, we met Cade, a strong willed, head strong 17-year old boy. His charm and easy manner won us over and, before long, he was also adopted.”

In addition to a busy home life because of, as Amanda and Deena put it, “fostering anyone who comes through our door,” the two are very active in both the Florida and Alachua County Foster and Adoptive Parent Associations. Amanda is president of the county organization. She co-chairs a statewide task force that focuses on recruiting and retaining new foster parents for teens and is also a Teen Independent Living Advocate for the FFAAPA.

let love

“We try to be a resource both to the teens and to the system as a whole as it reaches out and becomes more diverse,” Amanda noted.

The couple’s fervent support of teens in foster care is deeply personal, especially for Deena, who went to live with neighbors when she was 15 years old.

“When I was a kid, my family was not united. I moved in with caring neighbors and was able to graduate from high school with their love and support. I decided that, if I could, someday I would help teens. I always wanted to give back those feelings of support and love that they gave me,” Deena explained.

Amanda, as a foster parent and licensed clinical social worker, said she often sees the discrimination against teens and their profound needs.

“Most teens go to group homes. Teenagers in foster homes is not the norm,” she explained. “That’s one reason I’m so committed to teens, because sometimes all they need is that one person who stands up for them to make all the difference.”

As Amanda and Deena encourage new foster parents, they also encourage their recruits to turn to support groups like the Alachua County FAAPA.

let love

“It’s definitely a way for foster parents to connect with others who are having similar experiences. Most new foster parents don’t get involved until the second year or so of fostering, but it’s always the first year that’s the hardest. It’s great to have people who can help you realize you are doing it right and what you think it crazy is perfectly normal,” Amanda said.

According to Deena, “Getting involved with an association is terrific for support and advice about dealing with the special situations of fostering and the trauma the kids went through before you got them,”

The women said they aren’t ruling out more adoption, but they definitely will continue to be foster parents because they feel they are meeting a need and making a difference.

“It’s very rewarding if you’re realistic and are prepared to do the work. It’s satisfying to know you’re giving the kids a different way to live, another perspective and, hopefully, a better future.”

RaiseAChild.US is the nationwide leader in the recruitment and support of LGBT and all prospective parents interested in building families through fostering and adopting to meet the needs of the 400,000 children in the foster care system.RaiseAChild.US recruits, educates, and nurtures supportive relationships equally with all prospective foster and adoptive parents while partnering with agencies to improve the process of advancing foster children to safe, loving and permanent homes. For information about how you can become a foster or adoptive parent, please visit www.RaiseAChild.US.

Forget the SNP, the DUP Tory coalition is the one you should worry about

Editorial:  Be careful who you vote for!  And remember if you are entitled to vote, you must vote.  Don’t waste the opportunity and allow politicians to get an easy ride over LGBT matters!

 

Reprinted from the Mirror – 16:54, 23 April 2015 By Federica Cocco

The DUP might end up in government with the Tory party – 10 reasons we should be afraid

Photopress Belfast

The Tories have been jumping up and down about the possibility of the SNP ending up in a coalition with Labour, but they have been strangely silent on Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) potentially holding the balance of power.

But if the Tories win a sufficient number of seats, DUP MPs may be pivotal in forming government, as their leader Peter Robinson said yesterday.

A 12% chance the DUP will end up in government
That’s according to an analysis by the Financial Times.

They currently hold eight seats and are expected to win between eight and ten seats. Not a lot; but it’s more than UKIP are predicted to get (four or five). And given that the race is so close, the DUP could easily play kingmaker.

Conservative MP Mel Stride blew a straw in the wind when he wrote on Conservativehome.com: “an alliance of sorts [with the DUP] could offer those vital additional seats that might make all the difference to our prospects for continuing to govern.”

Last year David Cameron hosted “a lavish reception” in Downing Street in their honour.

So what will the DUP be bringing to the negotiating table?

1. They want to legalise discrimination against LGBT people

Paul Givan – DUP member of the Northern Ireland Assembly – has drafted a private member’s bill which would allow business to deny services to any LGBT people on the grounds of religion.

It’s been put for consultation but the party hasn’t “laid” it yet, which means they are yet to submit it to be scheduled for discussion in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

If this becomes law, gay people in Northern Ireland could be refused simple, basic services like booking a table in a restaurant, renting a room for a night or even buying food.

The Rainbow Project said that what is known as the conscience clause would “create a licence to discriminate” against gay people.

And just in case you think this is just one man’s crusade, bear in mind the DUP leader Peter Robinson backs the bill.

We asked the DUP about the bill and they confirmed that “the party supports the broad proposal”.

A DUP spokesperson told us Givan’s consultation document was intended to “start a discussion” but no firm proposals are on the table yet.

2. Homophobia is deep-rooted within the party

In 1977 Rev. Ian Paisley – founder of the DUP – launched campaign “Save Ulster from Sodomy” to lobby against the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

His son Ian Paisley Jr has inherited his father’s values. In 2007 he said he was “repulsed” by homosexuals. On Question Time last year he defended the comments, adding “Christians are scared off about expressing this sort of view.”

In 2008 Unionist politician Iris Robinson was investigated for hate crime after saying homosexuality was disgusting, loathsome, nauseating, wicked and vile. No charges were brought.

She also stated in Parliament that homosexuality is “viler” than child sex abuse. That was when she served as the party’s spokeswoman for health.

She believes gay people “can be turned around” through counselling and therapy.

3. They don’t exactly champion women’s rights

In fact they actively thwart them.

Abortion is notoriously still illegal in Northern Ireland and unlike other parts of the UK it’s governed by criminal law, i.e. the Offences against the Person Act and the 1945 Criminal Justice Act.

It’s not allowed after rape or incest or in case of fatal foetus abnormality; and doctors can only terminate pregnancies to save a woman’s life or to avoid permanent and serious damage to her health.

When in 2012 a Marie Stopes abortion clinic opened in Belfast, the DUP voted in favour of closing it.

They sunk and still “oppose a Northern Ireland Bill of Rights” which would have extended access to the procedure to Northern Ireland but the DUP resolutely opposes it.

DUP/Flickr
In 2013 a total of 802 women came from Northern Ireland to terminate their pregnancies.

 

4. They think schools should teach creationism

Paul Givan, once again.

The politician – who believes in creationism – put forward a motion in the Assembly calling for schools in Lisburn to teach alternatives to the theory of evolution.

 

5. They oppose gay marriage

In the last legislation, the DUP blocked the gay marriage bill from passing in Northern Ireland THREE TIMES. Civil partnerships are legal in Northern Ireland, but that law was passed before the DUP came into power.

 

6. They want to ban begging

Their 2011 manifesto pledged to “rigorously enforce legislation against begging.”

7. They hate the BBC
Their manifesto calls for a freeze in the BBC licence fee to be followed by either its significant reduction or abolition.

 

8. They support the death penalty

In 2011 a group of DUP MPs tabled a motion to discuss the death penalty at the House of Commons.

Who’s to say that giving them a place in government wouldn’t lend legitimacy to their policy ideas?

If UKIP also ends up being part of a Tory-lead coalition, the death penalty will most likely be brought up again in Parliament.

 

9. They could become besties with UKIP

They have some policies in common with Nigel Farage’s party, most notably the fact that holding a referendum on European Union membership is a red line condition for any coalition agreement.

But they’re also dead set on increasing defence spending to 2% of GDP, and some senior members – such as the former Environment Minister – have called man-made climate change “a con”. He won’t have any trouble bonding with the likes of Roger Helmer or Paul Nuttall.

 

10. In fact they will probably win more MPs than UKIP

While UKIP is only expected to get between one and five seats, the DUP will definitely secure at least seven or eight.

Without the shadow of a doubt, in the event of a Tory-led Coalition or minority government David Cameron’s party will need the DUP’s votes to hold the government together.

The Tories have made no secret of this and have already begun wooing senior DUP politicians.

Any Government with the DUP will need to acquiesce to at least some of its deeply-held convictions.

Michael Fallon called the SNP’s manifesto “the most expensive ransom note in history”, but the DUP’s wishlist is no joke either.

Voters should be aware of what they’re in for.

[Sources: Pink News, Open Democracy, Conservative Home, FT]

Who would you rather ended up in government?

Why not write and let us know!

 

Gay adoption: Northern Ireland ban lifted

BBC News : Gay adoption ruling from Supreme Court

A ban on gay and unmarried couples applying to adopt children in Northern Ireland has been removed.

They may now apply in the same way as heterosexual couples.

Health Minister Edwin Poots had tried to challenge an appeal court decision to extend adoption rights to gay couples.

However, the Supreme Court said the Department of Health’s argument for appeal did not meet the criteria.

Previously, a single gay or lesbian person could adopt children in Northern Ireland, but a couple in a civil partnership could not.

In June, the Court of Appeal ruled that the ban based on relationship status was held to discriminate against those in civil partnerships and to breach their human rights.

Northern Ireland was the only part of the United Kingdom where that policy existed.

Now, the law in Northern Ireland is in line with the rest of the UK.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “Following the Court of Appeal judgement in June 2013, unmarried couples, including same sex couples, and those in a civil partnership may apply to adopt.

“The final decision regarding the granting of an adoption order will lie with the court.”

 

Further reading and links:

  1. BBC News

Health Minister spends nearly £100k with no benefit for public health – and still he wants to spend more

During Assembly Question Time on Tuesday 17 September, Northern Ireland’s health minister, Edwin Poots MLA defended his use of public funds for the appeal to the Supreme Court over gay adoption and the gay blood ban when asked a question put to him by Chris Lyttle MLA, one of the Alliance Party’s representatives for East Belfast asked the minister:

why he is using scarce public funds for legal cases against blood donation and adoption when his responsibility is to deliver a system that assesses the health and safety of blood donation and decides whether parental placements are in the best interests of a child. (AQT 75/11-15)

Minister defends use of funds

The DUP Minister responded:

Stormont Northern IrelandI was not aware that I went to court with anyone.  However, when someone takes you to court, you have to respond; it would be quite foolish not to do so.  It is very interesting that public money is being used by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, which is a publicly funded body, in taking the Government to court, and legal aid is being used.  We await the outcome of one of those cases in the not-too-distant future.  Let us just see what happens.

On the issue of gay adoption, let us be absolutely unequivocal:  I am just after saying that we need to pay attention to the public when they speak.  When the direct rule Minister held a consultation, it revealed that over 95% of the community was opposed to gay adoption.  It strikes me that some Assembly Members would prefer the courts, as opposed to this House, to make decisions.  With respect to the courts, the Assembly is elected to represent the people of Northern Ireland, and it is a crucial part of the democratic process.  We would do well to pay attention to the democratic will, and that is exactly what I am doing.  I have to say that my stance was further strengthened last week when a piece of Queen’s University Belfast research on looked-after children was published by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering.  The longitudinal report, started in 2003 and published only last week, found that 99% of children who had been adopted here had stability — 99% of children in adoptive circumstances in Northern Ireland find stability.

That was because — the report included this — of the rigorous assessment process that takes place.  So I make no apologies for not repairing something that is not broken in the first place.

Responding to the supplementary question from Chris Lyttle, Edwin Poots continued:

[It] is a matter for the courts in the decisions that they make and the arguments that are put.  Let me be absolutely clear:  the European Court of Human Rights has found that there is no human right to adopt.  Let us just nail that at the outset.  This is not about adopters; it is about the children.

In Northern Ireland, we are in a different circumstance from the rest of the United Kingdom, in that we do not have as many children on the waiting list for adoption as is the case in England, Scotland and Wales.  Northern Ireland has a very robust adoption system, and I would have brought and am prepared to bring adoption legislation to the House to upgrade and improve it.  However, because others decided to rush to court, that has been delayed.  That is damaging to democracy, and I would have thought that Mr Lyttle should be a defender of democracy instead of trying to do down democracy.  He may wish to do things through the courts; I would rather do things through the ballot box.

I don’t believe for one second that Chris Lyttle is not a defender of democracy, but the Minister seems to fail to understand that Northern Ireland is subject to laws that do not originate here. Although we have devolution from the Westminster Parliament, this does not give Northern Ireland ministers the right to ignore what the courts say.

Nearly £100k spent already

money20sAs for the costs, Green Party MLA, Steven Agnew has been told by the Minister that he has spent around £40k on defence of the ban on gay men donating blood and around £40k defending the case on adoption by civil partners, with £17k in addition appealing the decision by the High Court. Steven Agnew said,

The Minister’s stance, despite the weight of evidence against him, has generated considerable expense to the public purse with zero benefit to public health in Northern Ireland.

Thanks to Steven and Chris for their work on this

I must thank both Chris Lyttle and Steven Agnew for their work raising this issue in the Assembly. Exposing what the Executive is doing with public money especially when financial budgets are tighter than many would like is one role that our MLAs are very good at doing. Many thanks to both of you, keep up the good work!

First Minister wants to ‘move Northern Ireland forward’ – pity his colleague in Health department is set to take us backwards

In October 2012 the High Court in Northern Ireland ruled that the ban on same-sex couples here adopting children is unlawful. The Court of Appeal upheld this decision in June of this year when the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety’s appeal was dismissed. Today we hear that the DUP Minister of Health, Edwin Poots MLA is appealing this decision to the Supreme Court.

Earlier this week the Rt Hon Peter Robinson MP MLA, First Minister of Northern Ireland wrote an opinion piece for the Belfast Telegraph, it is reproduced helpfully on the DUP website. At the top of that page on their site the DUP say that the First Minister

argues that a peaceful future can only be built on mutual respect, tolerance and an unwavering commitment to the rule of law and the democratic process.”

Well I have news for him, the actions of his Executive colleague suggest that the DUP does not like it when the law says one thing and they want to do the opposite. As John O’Doherty from The Rainbow Project says,

It is not the place of the courts to implement the personal prejudices of Ministers.”

Like the President of NUS–USI, Rebecca Hall, I think that this is disgraceful that the Minister is using public money to fund this action.

Does the Minister not accept the ruling of the High Court as well as that of the Court of Appeal? Does he believe that the Northern Ireland government is above the law? Read more of this post

 

Originally posted at HIV Blogger: living positively