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In Honor Of ALL Families, No Matter What THEY Say A Family Really Is. 
15th-Sep-2006 06:36 pm
The picture to the left is of a family, more specifically the Lofton-Croteau family. It is comprised of two fathers and five siblings of different ages, genders, bloodlines and races. It was forged of love, patience, understanding, and a deep sense of responsibility. The eldest three of the children in this family were born with HIV/AIDS in Florida, where they were basically discarded by their heterosexual birth parents and left to a horrible system of state government in Florida which is the only state with an outright ban on gay adoption. They were taken into the family as infants, having languished in hospitals in Florida until Mr. Lofton and Mr. Croteau took them home and made for them a family. The two youngest, also born HIV positive, were taken in by the family in Oregon, where they all currently reside. The foster parents ( Steve Lofton, 44, and Roger Croteau, 46) of these children (Frank, 14, Tracy, 14, Bert, 10, Wayne, 8, and Ernie, 5), decided that the babies needed to be taken care of by parents who could handle the demands and create a loving environment for them to live in - despite the odds stacked against them that these children may not even live for very much longer. A sixth child, Ginger, died of AIDS complications in 1995 at the age of 6. All of the children were old enough to understand — and to be devastated.

Because the family cannot legally adopt these children as they are wards of the state of Florida and the couple is gay, Steve and Roger are regularly reminded that Florida's law banning gay adoption puts their family in jeopardy. Every few weeks, a letter comes from the state, giving an update on the status of finding another family to adopt Bert. Because he no longer tests positive for HIV and is under the age of 14, Bert is deemed "adoptable." Steve and Roger are legally prohibited from adopting him because of Florida's ban. So the state continues its effort to find him another home, even though this is the only family he's ever known—even though, like all five of the kids, he's already home. THIS IS AN OUTRAGE! This prompted the involvement of the ACLU, on whose behalf a website has been created for the family called Let Him Stay. A documentary on the family called We Are Dad is currently airing on Showtime and is also available on Netflix.

Apparently people like Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush think it is perfectly fine for caseworkers in the Florida Department of Children & Families to totally lose track of the children they're supposed to be monitoring:
But allowing people who just HAPPEN to be gay yet are willing and able to create good homes for some of these children, that is not, nor should it be feasible under the state legislature. And for what, I ask?

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement supporting legal and legislative efforts to provide second-parent or co-parent adoptions to same-sex couples. The policy statement was published in Pediatrics, a peer-reviewed academic journal. It urged AAP members to "support the right of every child and family to the financial, psychological and legal security that results from having legally recognized parents who are committed to each other and the welfare of their children." The North American Council on Adoptable Children issued policy statements saying that sexual orientation "is not a determinant of good parenting and further that banning same sex adoption is dangerous."

There are currently more than 500,000 children in the foster care system in the United States being deprived of stable homes and loving families. The number of children that require adoption in the U.S. is over 190,000. The fact of the matter is evidence does not exist that proves that a child raised by a gay parent is harmed or disadvantaged in any way. In fact, one study showed that the process a homosexual couple has to go through to get a child is so time consuming that it actually proves their desire for a child. Studies show that the care is no different between a homosexual couple and a heterosexual couple. The American Academy of Family Physicians, the Child Welfare League of America (also telling the appeals court that the ban hurts children who are waiting to be placed in adoptive homes), the National Association of Social Workers, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, and the American Psychological Association all recognize that families headed by gays or lesbians can be run exactly the same as heterosexual headed families. Nearly a dozen former Florida state legislators who voted in favor of the ban in 1977 have since apologized for supporting it and publicly called for the ban to be repealed.

No research studies provide evidence that gay parenting hinders a child’s ability to grow psychologically. Gay parents can teach a child to have more tolerance for diversity and perhaps break down several of societies stereotypes against homosexuals. The only type of problem a child would possibly have to face is bullying by peers in school. Studies have not shown that children raised in a homosexual environment become homosexual themselves. Research does not provide evidence that homosexual couples raise children in a relatively unfit or unhealthy environment.


15th-Sep-2006 10:51 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, this isn't just a gay issue - this is pervasive throughout the long-time dicey adoption "industry" (for lack of a better term) where impoverished, special case, and just normal kids who are abandoned have an impossibly difficult time being integrated into families.
15th-Sep-2006 10:54 pm (UTC)
Oh, I agree completely. This post came form seeing the film and, well, me being me, this naturally was the result.
15th-Sep-2006 10:57 pm (UTC)
I love how we can formulate high tech wars and top secret torture chambers around the world yet we can't find homes for children...
15th-Sep-2006 11:03 pm (UTC)
As a nation, we're nothing if not arrogant, ineffective, and hypocritical.
16th-Sep-2006 12:05 am (UTC)
There ARE families who want them (us, for instance!) but they make it almost impossible to adopt, especially in Florida. They use adoptive parents as feeders for the foster care system.

I was told that I had to do foster care for a while before we could adopt or they would not assign children to our home. We learned three DAYS ago that this isn't even close to the truth. We were also told that we had to use the agency which handles our district. This isn't true either. Neither is the "fact" that we must adopt within the state of Florida if we're going to adopt domestically.

And this is a home which specifically asked for older special needs kids. I'm well read on the adjustment issues and have the time and patience to devote to them.
16th-Sep-2006 12:49 am (UTC)
I thank you for replying! I have experience with friends of my family fostering kids and having immense trouble holding on to them before being yanked back into the "old school receptionist"-style foster system and it is infuriating!

I'm sorry if this comes across as invasive, but are you hetero or homo? I only ask so that I can tailor a better give-and-take about this subject as the two are kind of different (though in the same boat)...

The saddest, most depressing (or just pressing?) issue of the matter is that there are parents who are most certainly qualified (for lack of a better term, again - i am not totally clueless i swear!) for housing these beautiful children who need just the opportunity to grow into beings not tied by the binds of their parents but to blossom beyond 'expectations' placed upon them by social moors.

God, I hate this subject as much as it envigorates me. As a 24 year old gay man (the youngest of 5, with a dozen nieces and nephews), I am so saddened by the state of adoption/foster parent circumstances. It is so ridiculous, I cannot begin to voice my opinion here.

A best friend of my mom spent the last 15 years as a foster parent (with her husband) for children of all races, backgrounds, and disadvantages and had to cling to the very bones of their fingers to kids whom they wanted to hold forever. They were a LUCKY family as well considering they made 100k+ between the two of them. How unfortunate for the kids that they were ripped back to the dysfunction of the "SYSTEM"!!!!!!!

Gah! I get so up in arms about this topic! Maybe it was cuz my oldest sister was tossed about in the foster care system for 3 years (!!!!) due to my abusive father before she jumped into the military for fear of leading a lossful life.

I ramble. Apologies.
16th-Sep-2006 04:49 am (UTC)
In they eyes of the system, I'm hetero. In reality, I'm a lesbian married to a very understanding man who chose to remain with me even though he knows sexually he's not my preference. Technically, that would probably make me bi. He's gender ambiguous himself so we have absolutely no idea how to define ourselves. But yes...to the system we look like a married couple because they never really dug into our sexual preferences or sex life.

We only had a few requirements:

- no one with a known history of killing or hurting animals (we have pets and it isn't fair to tempt a child with that kind of problem, they can't help themselves)

- no one with severe medical needs (we're too far out to get them help if something goes wrong)

- no children under ten (we don't like them and we're afraid we'd do more harm than good)

- no chronic runaways (that's a swamp behind my house. Run the wrong direction and if the alligators don't get you, the moccasins will...and we have the same problem with cop coverage as we do with EMS service)

We don't care about race or gender. We're one of the only foster homes in the county who accepts GLBT children and children with minor health issues such as epilepsy or asthma.

And I have two empty placements because the agency says we're not being flexible enough. That, and we don't make a good first impression. Like I told the owner of this journal, a metabolic disorder left me masculinized. I don't look or sound like your typical female and I always was tall and heavily muscled (Swedish heritage there). Apparently that's just enough for their conservative transport personnel to begin whispering behind closed doors.

The first time I had to report to my physician for a physical so he could verify I was female, I nearly died of shame.
15th-Sep-2006 11:10 pm (UTC)
Wait wait.... a child has to be under a certain age and "free of disease" to be deemed "adoptable"?!?

For chrissakes, it sounds just like regulations for livestock. Way to put a number on the value of a human life.
15th-Sep-2006 11:19 pm (UTC) - ....and BINGO was his name-o!
More and more it is clear to me that all wards of the state in cases like this are held in a value even lower than that. Compound this with the fact that in this particular state, a huge number of the caseworkers are complete pieces of shit who should be not ONLY fired, but prosecuted for child endangerment as well. I'd venture a guess that this is the case nationwide, as I have friends who work in other child welfare & health agencies who will validate this.
16th-Sep-2006 01:26 am (UTC) - Re: ....and BINGO was his name-o!
Actually, there are caseworkers who care about the kids they see, but they're not usually the last or even deciding link in a chain - at least not anymore. My mom spent 15 years as a caseworker in Missouri when I was a kid, and eventually took a lower-paying job in the same office as a clerk because she got to the point where the work exhausted and depressed her. (She's also not anti-gay marriage, so I presume she's not anti-gay adoption.)
16th-Sep-2006 12:02 am (UTC)
That's not quite right.

I'm a foster parent in Florida. We wanted to adopt (we're a hetero couple) and ran into the same kind of bullshit. We were told we couldn't adopt unless we fostered first and that we had to agree to accept older children or we'd never get placement at all.

We've been in the system three years and have only had one placement which worked out. That child was moved without a court order and removed to Georgia because we actually read his file and realized the caseworker wasn't advocating for him. The agency still sends us notices for him and he writes e-mails every day begging us to come up and get him. We can't. We're not even supposed to be talking to him.

The others have all been, for lack of a better description, nothing more than correctional facility management: kids who hurt pets (can't have 'em because we have pets and we told them this when we applied), kids who run away (they want to put those out here because there's theoretically nowhere to run TO), and babies.

We don't like babies or small children.

And yet, when you check the Florida adoption site they have all these children waiting for homes, either foster care or adoption. 500 in our county alone and yet the agency says they have none meeting our meager requirements (no pet killers, no one under age ten, and no chronic runaways because the swamp is DANGEROUS and we don't have good police coverage). They also told us they were over capacity and no one in their district has kids the age they wanted.


What they do with the older kids and the kids with medical needs is to classify them as "special needs". You have to have a special certification to have those kids in your home only as far as I can tell there's no documentation of what is requird so there's no way to get certified. They can also classify a child as unadoptable and make him or her a ward of the state bedcause of these circumstances. They age out of foster care at 18 and get dumped in the real world on their butts with no support system.

Care for the kids? You gotta be kidding. If they did, our home wouldn't be empty.
16th-Sep-2006 04:27 am (UTC)
As a former foster parent in the State of Illinois I can tell you it's no better here from what I saw or what I still hear. But then we got out of it in 1988. We couldn't stand the crap we saw happening to the children we had in our care. Almost all went back to the abusive homes they came from and the parents had not changed from when the children were removed.

We took special needs children that no one else would take, but occasionaly we would get a newborn.

We had received as a placement a 3 day old beautiful baby boy straight from the hospital that eventually was placed for adoption. We had him in our home for 16 months (the only Mom and Dad he knew) and wanted to adopt him.

We had been told by the state if he became available we would have first chance to adopt. Lies.

He was placed in a "arranged for a private adoption" meaning money was exchanged from what we later learned, for this beautiful blond haired, blue eyed, healthy baby boy.

We had no rights and they ripped this little boy from a healthy, happy home where he had become our son. He was ripped from our home and it broke our hearts to lose him.

I can only imagine how this family and Bert feels about having to destroy their family bond, especially at his age.

We wanted to adopt another child but were told no. We were good enough to give a loving home for these children with all these special needs but not good enough to be permanent parents.

We had to jump through hoops, go to parenting classes, references,FBI fingerprinting, the whole nine yards to care for these children but their abusive, neglectful parents only had to have sex to be eligible parents for them.

So sad to say it isn't just gay families that don't get to adopt.

I will say though I find the whole idea of not letting GLBT families be foster parents or adopt abhorrent. A loving family is a loving family. Period. I would have traded my straight cruel step-father for a loving gay father anyday, I'm sure my brother who was at the receiving end of many an unjustified beating with his belt would have also.

The children we received that had been physically, sexually, emotionally abused and neglected *all* came from "straight" homes. So where's the outcry about that?

I can't understand all the fuss over a persons sexuality when it comes to raising children. Unless you are a pedophile what difference does it really make?

I pray this child gets enough attention to let him stay with his family. My heart goes out to them all.

16th-Sep-2006 04:52 am (UTC)
Yup! You're preaching to the choir here.

Now that I've found out I don't have to go through the state, I have other options. There _are_ other states out there (just not ours) who are willing to work with us. We're getting out of fostering and going for adoption.

Bert's family has been a cause we foster parents have carried here for some time now. The interest and the continued petitioning are probably the main reasons those children are still in their homes. Even if DCF were to find a suitable family, no one with any scruples would step up.

But that doesn't matter. They'll find a family in it for the pay and away he'll go.

16th-Sep-2006 05:07 am (UTC)
Good for you! I hope you fill your house with lots of kids who need a loving home. I know there are plenty out there.

We had three daughters already but I had a hard time conceiving and we wanted a large family. We were told to go through foster care and we'd find children who needed homes. When we'd find children who needed a home ( special needs didn't matter as we have a daughter with cerebral palsy) we'd adopt them and we'd fill our home with children that would get loving parents.

It didn't work that way as we found out and after 7 years of the state defending the abusive parents and seeing good foster parents getting accused of abuse by the very parents that abused them we decided to get out.

The timing was right I guess a our youngest daughter was a year old at the time, required surgery for the CP and lots of daily therapy. I do wonder though how all those children are that passed through our home during those years.

Good luck. I think some children will be very lucky when your paths cross someday.


15th-Sep-2006 11:10 pm (UTC)
"Because he no longer tests positive for HIV"
15th-Sep-2006 11:24 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's a whole other thing. I forget what it's called, but it is possible.
15th-Sep-2006 11:35 pm (UTC)
I bet I know how the JesusCamp kids feel about this.

Any takers?
15th-Sep-2006 11:54 pm (UTC)
If you've been reading my journal, you know what I think of Florida's adoption and foster care system. They make it hard for a hetero family with a nice home and a good income to do either. Sad to say, but their situation isn't unusual and it's not even unique to gay parents. I lost my first boy because we advocated for him. Rather than admit she made a mistake, the caseworker illegally handed him over to relatives in Georgia. We still get notices from the agency and the state for him and he e-mails daily begging us to come and get him.

They will NEVER find an adoptive family for Bert. Most of the fosters and adoptives I know are in it for the infants, the very small children, or the money. They don't want to take the time and effort which would be needed to KEEP him HIV free (regular medical, sometimes out of your own pocket, meds, ect). They will NEVER find families for most of the children this couple has. Like my husband and I, they were a refuge for the children the state wanted to throw away and no foster family would take.

It's ludicrious. The state has no problem against them being foster parents. They just can't adopt.

There's even less reason for us to not be able to adopt. They simply want to keep us in the foster system because we look good on paper ($80k salary from husband alone, I am a stay-at-home, nice house, nice vehicles, plenty of room, good community standing). I learned only three days ago that I don't have to foster in order to adopt.

Florida told us we did: DCF AND the so-called "privatized" agency.

The best people can do is to expand their efforts for complete reform of the entire state's foster and adoption system. Because it sucks that there are kids needing families and families that want children and none of us can do anything legally to put the two together.
16th-Sep-2006 01:21 am (UTC)
IMO, Florida has very serious problems when it comes to children's affairs, to the point of all but being hostile to anyone under 18 who lives in the state...the Anita Bryant nonsense gay adoption law is the tip of the iceberg. I blame all the retirees who isolate themselves in age-restricted communities, don't want to pay school taxes, etc., but that's just me.
16th-Sep-2006 04:07 am (UTC)
What the HELL!?!?!?!

What's the difference between letting him live there his ENTIRE life and letting them adopt them? Either way, he is and always will be his son...legally or not.

What is the PROBLEM that society has with gay people????? Be against gay people if you want...we can't stop you. But SHUT YOUR FUCKING MOUTHS ABOUT IT!

Bitching and complaining isn't going to make anyone UNgay! It's going to piss A LOT of people off and eventually, we're going to KILL you!

One more reason I should rule the world.

This is going in my LJ and my MySpace and anywhere else I feel I should post it.

God, I'm pissed off.....
16th-Sep-2006 03:25 pm (UTC)
I am going to reference and link to this later....
thank you for the amazing list of resourses as they to will most likely prove important to me personally

this brings up many emotions for me...as a father...as a gay man

Caryn and I discussed many times that instead of bringing another child into the world, we would care for and raise one that was already here, as we could no longer justify bringing more life into the world..when there is already so much life already here that needs to be fostered, nutured and given the chance and resources to flourish. That is not meant to sound noble, or self-righteous..it's just how I've always felt. Before you go off to save people somewhere else, what about the desparate souls in your own backyard? EVERY child deserves a life rich with love, surrounded by adoration and smothered in sweet embraces. This is one of the most powerful feelings I've ever harbored. .

I've started discussing with Ben, when we can, we are going to start seeing how we can move toward helping in anyway, hopefully leading up to fostering or even adopting.

oh my god, I am so going to turn into Sally Struthers
20th-Sep-2006 08:48 pm (UTC)
What struck me is how damn happy they all look in the photo. How could nayone want to break that up?
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