A Response to Penn State Scandal

It has taken me over a week since the Penn State scandal broke to attempt to bring my anger under control and attempt to present a reasoned response to it. I will not say some anger may find its way into this blog entry as it remains but I will attempt to keep it under control. I however cannot remain silent!

Adults, no matter the position they hold in society, are to protect our children. Despite what the Pennsylvania “mandate reporting law” states; the adults involved in this story did not do that. They, in a few situations, may have met the letter of the law but they failed in meeting their moral obligations.

I can speak on this subject matter due to my own personal experiences when I was a youth.

I was raped as a youth and had another sexual abuse situation attempted on me. I for years blamed myself for this. It took me over forty years to even share these experiences with anyone because I was ashamed.

When I wrote my first book about my experiences in foster care I didn’t want to share these experiences but knowing I wanted to be as truthful as possible in my writing they had to be shared, though not in graphic detail.

In my book “Lost Son” I shared the following two instances:

One

“The stability of four years came to sudden end in May, 1960, when I was abruptly removed from the Monshor’s home. I was placed in the Wayne County, Michigan Youth Detention Center. My crime: at age ten I was guilty of not having a family to claim me as their son nor a place to call home.

The Detention Center was to be my home until a new foster home was found. Here I was placed amongst youth offenders who were charged with a wide assortment of crimes. My bed, to start due to overcrowding, would be a thin mattress in the open area of the block.

I am the youngest boy on the block, as well as the smallest. Though I attempted to fight as best I could I was unable to overcome the attacks of older boys. I was repeatedly sexually assaulted.

One day after being assaulted and left naked in a cell, I felt my life was no longer worth living and attempted to hang myself with a belt. I was discovered before the act could be completed and placed in an isolation cell, where I would remain for two months.

Those responsible for the repeated rapes are never charged or held accountable in any manner.”

Two

“On the night of April 15, 1961, I was told to pack my paper bag, and that I would be leaving in the morning. All I could think of was, “Here we go again.”

The final insult of this foster home came on my final night there. Their son, seventeen at the time, came back on the porch late during the night. He nudged me roughly. When I opened my eyes, light was coming through the porch windows so I could see him. He was standing over me, exposing himself, close to my mouth saying, “Take care of this for me.” I remember kicking out at him and then wailing away at him. I hit him everywhere I possibly could creating noises as he crashed into things. All the time I was yelling to arouse the rest of the house.

Finally his Mother came out to see what was going on. I yelled out, with tears rolling down my face, “He tried to force himself on me sexually.” He called me a liar and said he was just checking on me.

His Mother believed him and not me. She said, “You are a rotten no good for nothing boy, a dirty little boy, a liar. No wonder no one wanted me as I wasn’t fit to have anyone to want me. Good thing you will soon be out of our house, you ungrateful little bastard.” At least she got the bastard part correct.

I sat there in stunned silence with what I heard, while crying now uncontrollably. Then I had my chance. I stood up and decked her son. I got a good hit in as I knocked out one of his front teeth…not bad for a scrawny eleven year old.

I was so ashamed of what had happened that  night that I did not share it with the social worker. I have not shared it with anyone as I have remained ashamed until now…forty plus years later.

I always felt I needed to keep it as my dark, dirty secret. As I thought of writing this chapter, I finally came to realize I was not the guilty party that night, I was the victim and thus could now forgive myself and let it go. I still obviously remember that woman’s final words to me. I still shudder when I think of this foster home.”

I share these situations to help you realize how a victim of sexual abuse may respond or not respond to it. The depth of the negative feelings one goes through as well as it may take years before they are able to share it with anyone.

I am sure victims of the Penn State situation could very much identify with what I felt when this happened to me.

In the case of the very graphic incident of 2002 in the football locker room showers it was not abuse that occurred…it was rape it was a felony crime! It was witnessed and yet the police were not called.

The Pennsylvania law does not mandate the average citizen report the above described case to be reported to authorities but rather it be reported up their immediate chain of command on the job. Only seventeen of the fifty states makes it a crime to not report abuse of a child to the authorities. This has to change!

Various officials at Penn Stated failed the youth that were sexually abused. In a few of the cases that have been detailed there were actual witnesses yet they failed to even attempt to stop the abuse they witnessed but only told their immediate superiors of the events.

How the victims must have felt knowing someone could have rescued them but did not!

I feel nothing but contempt for those witnesses who failed these youth!

Though the officials at Penn State are not required under their current laws to notify authorities when they were informed how could they not feel their moral obligation. How could they basically wipe their hands of the matter after they were informed feeling they had met the letter of the law and that was the end of it.

Abuse of a child is despicable! For one to not act to protect a child when they see abuse happening to a child is despicable! For those who are informed that child abuse has happened to not report it to proper authorities is despicable!

I can only hope and pray that those who were abused have or will soon find a way to heal, to realize it was not their fault but rather the fault of the one who abused them. It is my hope that their lives have not already been completely destroyed.

It is time that ALL fifty states pass a law to make it mandatory that whoever witnesses or has reasonable suspicion abuse is happening to a child MUST report it to law officials.  If the states will not do this then the federal government must. This law must be the same in all fifty states. We must protect our youth!!

We can never allow a situation such as Penn State, the Catholic Church (I am Catholic), to ever happen again!

Sen. John Kerry Introduces Reconnecting Youth To Prevent Homelessness Act

This week, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced the Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act to protect children in foster care from ending up on the streets. The bill features a section dedicated to protecting and providing support to LGBT youth.

In a statement, Kerry said preparing for and planning responses to youth homelessness is vital, especially when considering the amount of children that face this challenge.

“As a father, it’s a punch in the gut to imagine children living on the streets, but this year alone, one in fifty American kids will be homeless,” he said. “There are common sense reforms we can implement to help make things better.”

NPR reports that an astounding 40 percent of kids who age out of foster care will become homeless. And according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, out of the 2 million youths who experience homelessness each year, 1 in 5 identify as LGBT.

Because many LGBT youths find themselves homeless because of familial rejection, the bill would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to create programs that are centered on “reducing dejecting behaviors and increasing supporting behaviors and understanding among families to improve the chances of LGBT youth remaining at home.”

The bill would also make sweeping changes throughout foster care programs, such as keeping kids in the system until they reach 21 years old and creating easier accessibility to funding and education resources.

Florida ends ban on gay, lesbian adoptions

Florida joins the 21st century and the other 49 states plus Washington DC!! EVERY Child deserves a loving, nurturing, caring parents whether they be straight, gay or lesbian. NO child deserves to be held a “legal” orphan hostage to the system because of this issue. I know some reading this may not agree with me. However, as one who spent 18 years in the foster care system and never adopted I know I would have loved for any loving, caring nurturing parents to have adopted me!

By the CNN Wire Staff
October 22, 2010 5:21 p.m. EDT

Florida’s ban on adoptions by gay men and lesbians came to an official end Friday.

Attorney General Bill McCollum said the case that led to the overturning of the state’s 33-year-old law wasn’t the “right case” to take to the state’s Supreme Court.

Licensed foster parent Frank Martin Gill had sued to have the ban overturned. He wanted to adopt two boys who had been placed in his care after the Florida Department of Children and Families removed them from their home for neglect.

Gill and his partner have been raising the boys for six years.

“We are relieved that this process has finally come to an end, and that we can focus on being a family,” Gill said in a statement released Friday. “All children deserve a chance at finding a stable, loving and permanent home. Over the 33 years of the ban, this archaic law has harmed countless foster children by denying them a forever family.”

Earlier this month, the Department of Children and Families announced it would not appeal a September decision by the state’s 3rd District Court of Appeal that found the law unconstitutional.

“We had weighed an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court to achieve an ultimate certainty and finality for all parties,” said Joe Follick, the department’s communications director.

“But the depth, clarity and unanimity of the DCA opinion — and that of Miami-Dade Judge Cindy Lederman’s original circuit court decision — has made it evident that an appeal would have a less than limited chance of a different outcome.”

The appeals court opinion made adoption possible for gay and lesbians in Florida statewide.

The state agency said it has removed from adoption forms the question about an applicant’s sexual orientation. Gov. Charlie Crist ordered the department to stop enforcing the law after Lederman’s ruling.

Florida was the only remaining state to prohibit gay adoption.

Brandon Hensler of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida told CNN it is possible that some other case might try to challenge the court decisions, but he thinks such a move is unlikely.

Gill and his supporters planned to celebrate McCollum’s decision late Friday.

60 Years Ago Today!!

Sixty years ago today, in the early hours of
the morning, a young nineteen year old unwed woman
gave birth to her first child…a son.

She spent most of her pregnancy in a home for unwed
mothers as her father would not, as he said, allow a
bastard child in his house.

She was uneducated and unable to provide even the
basic needs for her newborn son.

She did what she thought would be best for
him…because she loved him. She placed him lovingly
for adoption within hours after his birth.

She would not learn for thirty-six years that her
hopes and dreams of a loving home for her son never
happened.

The son instead spent the first year of life in a
hospital nursery and also the nursery of the same home
for unwed mothers his mother had spent her pregnancy.

Despite being a white, blond, hazel eye, healthy
baby…no one came forward to adopt him.

Those first days in a nursery turned out to be
eighteen years of being moved from one foster home to
another or institution…fourteen moves in all.

During those years he would attend many schools, never
have long time friends. He at a time would find his
bed on a back porch and be forced to steal food from
other children at school to dampen his hunger pains
from being fed only one meal a day. He would face the
horror of sexual abuse at the tender age of ten. He would
feel he was worthless and attempt to end his pain
and life before age 11.

Somehow, with the help of a few mentors, hope and a
deep inner faith this baby boy was able to overcome
the years of his childhood. He received a college
education and began a professional career.

At age of thirty-one he suffered a massive heart
attack. He could not answer the doctor’s question of;
“What’s your family medical history?” He was
embarrassed and ashamed for as far as he knew…he had
no family to call his own.

He began a search for the person who he thought would
be able to provide some answers…the mother who
lovingly relinquished him thirty-two years earlier.

The search took four long years. It was a painful,
trying and at times a frustrating journey as he met
numerous obstacles along the way.

He remembers vividly the message left on his answering
machine on April 17, 1986…”This is your mother!”
They would speak a few hours later…a phone call that
would last for hours. His spine still tingles and eyes
tear up as he remembers that day now nineteen years
later.

He met his mother not many months later. It
unfortunately was just the beginning to what turned
out to be a very strained relationship at best. He,
however, had his questions answered.

That relationship ended tragically a mere twelve years
later. His mother, on her own accord this time,
rejected her son and wished him dead as she could not
bear learning her son…her first born…was gay.

Despite several attempts at reconciliation by the son;
mother and son were never to speak or see each other
again in her lifetime. She passed away just shy of
three years after turning her son away.

The son, after time, was able to forgive his mother
and to thank her for not only giving him life but
making the decision she did on the day of his birth.
Despite how his childhood was; it had been the correct
decision.

He also was able to search, find and meet his father
once. His father did not wish for a relationship and
his father passed away four years after he found him.

His half siblings, from both his mother and father’s
side, except one rejected him as their brother. The
one remaining sibling also rejected him after their
mother’s death.

The one foster family whom he considered to be Mom and
Dad, even after he was on his own, are both long
passed away.

So today is this person’s sixtieth birthday.
What should be a joyous occasion remains a painful day
as it always has been. It brings forth those memories
of a childhood he cares not to remember. Acceptance by
his new found mother as well as the rejection.

He has in recent years found and met extended family.
They have welcomed him with open and loving arms.

He will receive well wishes from friends, extended
family and others. However, in many ways he will still
feel alone. There will never be birthday wishes from a
mother, father, brothers or sisters…and his heart
breaks.

Despite those painful memories he moves forward. The
hope and faith that sustained him through these
sixty years continues to sustain him.

Yes, today is that son’s birthday. I quietly wish
him a Happy Birthday, though it may not be.

I know each detail of this person’s life…because I
am that son born sixty years ago.

Yes, today I am sixty! The wounds of the
passed have in many cases healed, however, there are
many that just scabbed over waiting to be broken open
anew…they will never heal.

I however once again…thank my mother and father for
this beautiful gift called life!

Classified as “Unadoptable” as a Child…Man Gets New Parents!

Imagine going through life being told you are not worthy to be loved…you are “unadoptable” and left to be on your own!

I find the story below from CNN a happy ending story, however it is a shame that it took so long for it to happen…this man’s life to this point may have been different if someone had cared before now.

By Stephanie Chen, CNN

Mark Hauck and Tim Ferraro adopted a 23-year-old man in 2008

John, who changed his name to Sam Ferraro-Hauck, spent years in foster care

Adopting adults and older teens is becoming more popular

Individuals leaving the foster care system face higher rates of incarceration and homelessness

As far back as John could remember, he was on his own.

Like the 20,000 foster children who “age out’ of the system each year, John left California’s foster care system six years ago believing he had missed his chance to be part of a family.

But then something unexpected happened.

In spring of 2006, he met Mark Hauck and his partner, Tim Ferraro, a couple in their 40s. They were living next door to his former high school nurse, who had taken John, 21, into her home temporarily.

John was curious about the couple, particularly Mark who worked with high school drama programs. John enjoyed writing scripts in his spare time.

Maybe he could get some advice from Mark, he thought.

Neglected and abused

Growing up, John took care of himself.

By the age of 5, John says he fixed his own meals while his mother slept through the day. He began caring for his newborn sister, Ashley, shortly after his seventh birthday. The process became routine: Preparing the formula, pouring the milk into the bottle and feeding her tiny mouth. He changed the baby’s diapers, too.

He describes his mother as impulsive and unable to hold a steady job. His biological father disappeared before his birth.

Teachers noticed something was wrong. John’s maternal grandmother tried to intervene. California Children’s Services investigated.

Their inquiry included John’s background file, a thick stack of social worker reports, police documents and photographs. Authorities concluded John was a victim of neglect and physical and sexual abuse. When he was 16 months old, authorities reported bruises on his face. He had bite marks on his body when he was about 2 years old.

John recalls his goodbye with his mother. He was 7 when authorities whisked him away.

“I remember feeling freedom,” he said. “I remember walking out. I remember my mom saying not to go, and I returned to her and said ‘Sorry, I have to.’ ”

His mother’s parental rights were later terminated, and John stopped talking to her in 2004.

By the time John reached high school in the foster care system, chances for adoption were slim. Only 7 percent of foster children 14 and older find a permanent home, according to a 2008 Department of Health and Human Services report. The state had already labeled John with attention deficit disorder, depression and behavioral issues.

His social worker wrote in his file that he was unadoptable.

Shortly after they met in the spring of 2006, Tim Ferraro offered John a job at his remodeling company. Tim knew John needed the cash since he was then renting his own apartment.

One afternoon when John’s shift ended, Tim and Mark invited John into their home for dinner.

John ate as they talked about politics and religion. “I channeled my paternal Sicilian grandmother in me,” Tim joked. “And I just kept asking him, ‘Are you hungry?’ ”

Their friendship blossomed, and John became a frequent guest. Sometimes after dinner, they played board games or watched movies. John showed them his scripts and music.

To help the young man out, Tim and Mark donated extra groceries to John when they could. They hired him to complete odd jobs around the house.

The couple helped him with “adult tasks” that John hadn’t learned before such as tracking finances, résumé writing and answering job interview questions.

When John fell ill, they loaned him money for doctor visits. They knew the young man struggled with depression so they found a counselor for him.

Hearing adoption stories from teens

At the same time John became part of their life, the couple was looking to expand their family.

Mark Hauck and Tim Ferraro had always considered adoption during their 20-year relationship. Career goals and imperfect timing derailed them but they were determined to become parents.

The couple got serious about adopting in the summer of 2008. They completed an adoption training program required by the state of Minnesota.

They had preferred to adopt a child, but during one training session, Mark and Tim listened to the teens and young adults share their adoption stories. The teens talked about how a permanent home gave them the support and confidence to succeed.

At that moment, they realized John needed parents too.

Already friends with John for two years, they knew he was struggling. John was fired from his food service job in May 2008. His credit card debt grew to $50,000. John became anxious and depressed.

“He was really trying hard against odds that were stacked completely against him because he was unprepared to be on his own,” Mark said.

The couple says they wanted to adopt John because they believed John deserved a family

Because John was an adult, the couple knew the adoption process would be easier than adopting a child, a process saddled by home studies and heavy paperwork. Tim and Mark also knew some agencies would rule them out for adoption because of their age and sexual orientation.

But how do you ask a 23-year-old man to be your son?

That is the question that confronted Mark and Tim after they decided to propose the adoption to John. Adult adoption in the U.S. is rare — fewer than 200 adult adoptions for individuals between the ages of 18 and 20 in 2008, government studies report.

For weeks, the couple mulled over their decision to adopt John. They knew if they offered to become his parents, the act, in their minds, would be unchangeable.

Close friends asked the tough questions: Could they financially support John? What would happen if John got into trouble?

Not used to commitment

The evening of September 12, 2008, began as usual.

John arrived at Mark and Tim’s home for dinner. Their casual Friday night consisted of pizzas and Cokes, followed by several games of Rummy.

The soda shot out of John’s nose when Mark asked the question. He thought that maybe he hadn’t heard Mark correctly.

“We’d like you to be our son,” Mark offered. “We’ll leave it up to you to decide.”

But John didn’t have an answer. He asked for a few days to think about his decision. At first, John grew angry when he thought about their offer to adopt him.

“I don’t think I was used to the level of commitment they were offering,” John said. “An adoption can’t end.”

The permanency Mark and Tim promised was a striking contrast from his past. When John stirred trouble, the state moved him to another foster home. When he acted violently, the state punished him by sending him to residential treatment.

Several days later, John appeared at Mark and Tim’s door with his belongings. John decided he was tired of spending Christmas and birthdays alone. He realized, even as an adult, that he still needed parents to provide him advice — and compassion. He wanted a family of his own.

Shift in adoption trend

This month, Mark and Tim are celebrating their one-year anniversary with their 24-year-old son.

The adult adoption was finalized by a judge in December 2008, a relatively smooth process compared to adopting a child. The three adults signed the adoption paperwork in front of a judge.

“To us, Sam was simply our son,” Mark said. “It didn’t matter that we didn’t bring him home in a blanket.”

That month, John legally changed his name to Sam Ferraro-Hauck. The change would mark a fresh start.

Sam’s adoption story represents a shift in the adoption world over the last decade. Adopting older teens and young adults has become more popular, said Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. The number of individuals between the ages of 14 and 20 adopted rose from about 2,000 in 1998 cases to more than 4,200 in 2000, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Experts say the federal government’s passage of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 has given funding incentives to states that promote older adoptions. The act extends foster care payment cutoff age from 18 to 21 years of age.

The Minnesota nonprofit Ampersand Families, where Mark now works, is one example of a growing number of nonprofits that help older teens and young adults secure permanent homes. This Christmas, the agency matched a 13-year-old foster child with a Minnesota family.

Fargo/Moorhead Youth Fill the Dome Project Exceeds Goal!

My blog normally includes articles written by me or others I find on the Internet about foster care, thus the title of my blog.

However I am so proud of the youth here in my hometown community of Fargo, North Dakota/Moorhead, Minnasota that I just have to share this story beyond our area.

In the fall of 2007 a group of local high school seniors wanted to do something as a gift to their community. They wanted to collect non perishable foods and funds to be given to those less fortunate in our community. Each year since new seniors have continued the effort.

They did not think small but decided to issue a challenge to all the local schools.

Fargo has what we call the Fargodome. It is the site where North Dakota State University plays their home football games and where numerous big time stars have given concerts. The football floor contains 80,000 square feet.

The group decided their goal would be to fill the dome floor with food items. Thus began the FILL THE DOME PROJECT.

Since that first year (2007), though the foor did not get filled, they were able to raise over 60 tons of food and over $60,000 for their efforts for 2007/2008 combined.

This year the set their goals higher than what was reached in the first two years:

Goals for Fill the Dome 2009 include: 
Raise $75,000
Collect 75 tons of food
Engage 7,500 volunteers

Fifty-eight local schools and a few outside the local community were involved in this year’s effort. Each school would have a square on the dome floor to fill with non-perishables.

There is also a square designated for the community as a whole participate by dropping off items on the designated date or to purchase a food bag from Hornbackers ( a local grocery store gain ) which would be collected and taken to the dome on the given date.

Yesterday was the culmination of the 2009 effort. Schools each had a scheduled time to brings the results of ther collection drives as well as the food bags purchased by members of the community.

Early this morning, after boxing, weighing, and placing all the food on a number of trucks for distribution the results were announced:

97.1 tons of food that came in and out of the Fargodome.
$96,000 (and counting)
2311 food bages were purchased by community members at Hornbachers
(Yes I bought a couple)
Over 2,800 people who have signed their name, acknowledging hunger is an issue in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

The Fill the Dome Project not only exceeded their goals for 2009 by a wide margin but also exceeded the total of the two previous years combined.

The Great Plains Food Bank distributes food to local pantries and shelters. Of money raised, 30 percent goes to local groups and 70 percent goes to a mobile food pantry to help in rural western North Dakota.

These same youth, in many cases, helped save the Fargo/Moorhead area by filling and laying over 4 million sandbags this srping in the effort to save our area from flooding. Without their efforts our city would have definitely suffered severe lood damage.

These youth make me proud to live in Fargo and continues to give me faith in our next generation of leadership.

Hats off to ALL involved; many less fortunate will not go without in the months ahead!!

 

Some of the food collected yesterday

 

To date (2007-2009) Fill the Dome has raised over: 

Over 156,000 tons of non perishable food items

Over $157,000

I will be nominating this organization next year for CNN’S Heor of the Year!

 Below are photos from the 2008 drive:

http://fillthedome.org/ftd/Photos.html

Should Gays/Lesbians be Foster/Adoptive Parents?

When dealing with the subject of child welfare, whether it is Child Protective Services, foster care or adoption, one cannot sidestep this issue. I also realize for a number of people this is a very controversial subject. I further realize that for some the answer would be an immediate and resounding NO! I have never been one to avoid controversy nor accept the answer of no when the logic behind it does not have sound reasoning to go with it.

I ask you to look at these scenarios below and determine which situation would be in the best interest of the child.

• A child is in the home of its biological parents. They are neglectful and abusive.

• A child is removed from its biological parents home due to abuse and neglect and is placed within the foster care system. The child is moved from home to home numerous times with no reason ever given.

• A child, having been removed from the home of its biological parents, after several moves within the foster care system, is placed within an institution until reaching the age of eighteen. At eighteen its cast out onto the streets and told, “You’re on your own.”

• No heterosexual couples apply to adopt a child in foster care. However, a stable gay couple comes forward shortly after being placed in foster care wishing to adopt the child. They have the financial resources to provide for the material needs of the child and can also provide a stable, nurturing, safe and loving home.

Which scenario have you decided is in the best interest of the child? It is my hope that at least the majority reading this will decide the fourth situation is in its best interest.

The first and fourth scenario did not happen to me. However, the second and third did.

I was placed for adoption by my nineteen year old unwed mother at birth. She believed this would be best for me considering her personal circumstances. I was placed instead into two institutions for the first year of my life. This was followed by eleven different foster homes over the next ten years. While in various foster homes I would be verbally, physically and sexually abused. I would even need to learn to steal food after being restricted to one meal per day in one home. Finally I was placed in yet another institution. I would remain in this institution until I aged out at eighteen. Fifteen moves and abuse by the age of eleven definitely were not in my best interest nor would it be in the best interest of any child.

The final institution I was placed in was Boys Town, Nebraska. It turned out to be a pretty good place for me, though I believe until this very day that it was not in my best interest. When I left at eighteen I was not ready to be out in the world on my own.

As a child, if a family had come forward and allowed to adopt me, I would not have cared whether they were heterosexual or homosexual. I desired only to have a family, someone to actually call me son and someone to actually say they loved me!

Gays and lesbians, other than whom they may love, are no different than heterosexuals. They have the same wants and desires as anyone. They go to work, pay their taxes and contribute to their communities. Many of them also wish to be parents, whether it is foster parents to children in temporary need of a home or adoptive parents to give a child a forever family.

Some argue that having gay/lesbian couples or singles foster or adopt children will lead to the child being turned gay or lesbian. Some say this is putting a child at risk for sexual molestation.

Let me attempt to respond to those two charges.

I am of the firm belief that absolutely no one is turned gay or lesbian by another person. One is born either heterosexual or homosexual. If one’s environment while growing up can determine one’s sexuality then I should be heterosexual. Each foster home I was in was headed up by a mother and father. Each taught me what right and wrong. Each was a Roman Catholic home that believed one being homosexual was wrong. This is also what I believed growing up. I played sports, I dated girls, I did everything one would expect of a growing heterosexual youth. It took years of struggling with my sexuality which ended with a suicide attempt at age twenty for me to realize and accept who I was and that I had been born this way.

Can anyone reading this tell me when they made the decision that they would be heterosexual? No you cannot! Being heterosexual came naturally to you. It was not a choice. Neither being a male that is gay a choice made by me. It came naturally to me and I just needed to realize it and accept it.

Over the years I have known gays and lesbians who have been foster or adoptive parents and the children, now adults are heterosexual. It is who they are! Thus the first argument of a gay or lesbian can steer a child to be homosexual is pure hogwash!

The second argument of children being at risk of sexual molestation is just as false. Has it on occasion happened? Yes it has. However, if on examines the statistics, one will find that the overwhelming number of sexual molestation, whether straight or gay in nature, are being done by heterosexuals.  It was supposedly heterosexuals that raped me as a youth while in foster care…not a homosexual!

Whether a child is sexually molested by a homosexual or heterosexual, the molester should be arrested, prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law if found guilty. I have no sympathy whosoever for sexual molesters in any way, shape, form or sexuality!

However, stable, caring, loving and nurturing gay and lesbian couple or singles should not be denied the opportunity to share their lives with a child in need of a family just because of their sexuality. They have the same capabilities a heterosexual has to offer a child.

Today three states ban homosexuals from adopting children strictly based on their sexuality. Unfortunately there seems to be a trend in other states to seek laws to ban in their states, including my own former state. I have found few states that will not allow homosexuals to foster as well. However, though few states currently have laws on the books banning there appears in many to be unwritten policies to do everything possible to put obstacles in the path of homosexuals to foster or adopt. Current laws banning adoption must be overturned and the efforts by other states to ban must not be allowed to pass. The obstacles placed by states must be removed. No child should be doomed to a childhood of no home or family based on the parent(s) sexuality.

There are currently only 175,000 licensed foster came homes across the country; this is despite the fact that there are 523,000 youth in foster care, 120,000 are currently available for adoption but continue to languish within the foster care system and 20,000 youth will face aging out of the system with the support system of a family. There is a nationwide demand for foster homes and adoptive families yet one segment of our society is discriminated against becoming foster or adoptive parent(s)…even if it is an unwritten policy.

Now do I believe in family values and the family unit? Yes I do! Yes it would be nice if every child could be raised with a mother and father in the home. However, I do not agree that only a heterosexual couple with children can be a family. Neither do I believe in what many believe what many call family values as they define them. Is it a family value to allow a child to remain with an abusive or neglectful biological family? Is it a family value to allow a child to be shuttled from one foster home to another? Is it a family value to not attempt to have a child adopted but rather placed in an institutional setting? Is it truly a family value to deny a child a stable, safe, nurturing, loving family simply because only a gay or lesbian couple (single) comes forward to adopt?

I believe the answer to each of these questions is NO!

A child needs a family. A child needs to know he or she is loved, cared for and nurtured.

Gays and lesbians can offer all of this just as easily as heterosexuals.

The decision as to whether gays or lesbians can foster or adopt should be based on the same criteria as heterosexuals. Is the person or couple capable of providing a safe, stable, nurturing and loving home for a child? Can they pass a background check and home study? If the answers to the above are yes then they should be allowed pure and simple. They should be held accountable for their actions just as heterosexuals…no more and no less!

If we as a society care about children half as much as we say we do, then we will act in the best interest of the child whether that means placement with a heterosexual or homosexual family. I would have gotten on my knees every night as a child and thanked God for a family to have called my very own and who would have called me son, heterosexual or homosexual!

The family value that should count: is the child being placed with pa person or people that will provide all that is necessary for him or her to grow up as a good and decent productive citizen. There are far too many children today needing a foster or adoptive home for us to be so close-minded and prejudiced to deny any segment of our society the privilege of caring for children. As a nation if we truly believe children are our most valuable asset, then we cannot leave any child behind and we must always act in the best interest of the child.

Let one’s actions deny them parenthood, not their sexuality!