Earlier this week, HRC teamed up with The Boys Home of Jacksonville, and JASMYN (Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network) to celebrate National Adoption Month with a forum for the LGBT community.  The Boys Home was the first agency in Florida to participate in All Children—All Families (ACAF), and is working toward implementing our recommended “best practices” for working with the LGBT community.  The Boys Home prepares foster parents and does the pre-adoptive education and licensing, and they are eager to welcome all qualified families, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

JASMYN provides direct support and services to LGBTQ youth, many of whom are in foster care after being rejected by their parents. We were joined by Maria Bates, Director of Patchwork Project, the second Florida agency to participate in ACAF. Maria not only has vast experience as an adoption attorney, but is an adoptive parent of two children.

With the recent decision by the Florida Department of Child and Family Services to stop enforcing the “gay adoption” ban, there are new and exciting opportunities for LGBT individuals and couples to expand their families through adoption. Jacksonville is no exception—100 people packed the room to view the film Gay Parents Speak* and to hear from experts in the field about the pathways to adoption.

Men and women, both single and partnered, joined us to explore opportunities to adopt in Florida.  In addition to these prospective adoptive parents, a number of local attorneys and community leaders were there showing their support and answering questions. The questions ranged from “nuts and bolts” of the process, costs associated with adoption, what to expect from the home study, and what it is like to adopt older youth from foster care.  There was great energy in the room and deep appreciation to HRC and the local organizations for providing this important forum in Jacksonville.  At the end of the evening, Jerry Walters, Director of The Boys Home, shared that six people had signed up to attend their next orientation session, moving ever closer to finding permanent families for Florida’s waiting children.

*You can join HRC on November 30 at 4 PM EST for a live online showing of the film Gay Parents Speak. After the film, we are hosting a virtual panel during which experts will answer your questions on adoption. RSVP Today!

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