For those of you who know us, we spent many years trying to build our family.  For those of you who don’t, we started our journey with private adoption and failed multiple times. Our first daughter passed just 45 minutes after birth.

Adopting a child is not only an emotional rollercoaster but an expensive one at that. Not many families can afford the tens of thousands of dollars it takes to hire an attorney or work with an adoption agency. And the last thing that qualified foster or adoptive parents should have to face is unfair and unjust discrimination. Yet in far too many places across the country, qualified LGBTQ parents are turned away simply because of who they are. That’s why it’s time for Congress to pass the Every Child Deserves a Family Act.

By chance, we started working with the Baltimore City Department of Social Services’ Foster Care program and were fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to adopt both of our daughters Grace and Charlotte after months of caring for them as a foster family.  While there is plenty to improve inside many of these systems, it comes down to a very straightforward question.  Do these children have a safe place to go in an emergency?

Recently the City of Baltimore was in the news because there were not enough beds to care for all the children in care.  There are simply not enough Foster Families in Baltimore to care for all of the children in need. And if the agency limited their foster pool based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status, the situation would go from bad to worse. Simply put, Grace and Charlotte, the girls that have stolen our hearts from the moment they first came home, would not be with us today.

We took pride in becoming foster parents, and we would not have a family today if it weren’t for that opportunity. And while the cost for same-sex couples to start a family can be financially impossible, thankfully many Foster to Adopt programs help overcome that issue by facilitating low or no-cost adoptions.

The Every Child Deserves a Family Act would prohibit any child welfare agency receiving federal financial assistance from discriminating against any potential foster or adoptive family on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. It would ensure that qualified parents have the opportunity to build a family of their own. It would also prevent discrimination against LGBTQ foster youth. If Baltimore City had not already taken action to protect families like our own, our lives would not be complete, and our family would cease to exist.

There are hundreds of cities across this country just like Baltimore that are in dire need of Foster Parents. If you support our family and the tens of thousands of families just like ours, then NOW is the time to take action.  Far too many qualified parents are turned away simply because of who they are. The Every Child Deserves a Family Act would do more than protect the LGBTQ+ community. It would create loving families across the United States!