The Short of It
In Utah, couples wishing to become foster parents, adopt a child or provide kinship care to children of their family members need to be legally married. After the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down states' same-sex marriage bans, gay and lesbian couples can now be considered for these parenting roles.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court's decision was announced, fifteen same-sex couples in Utah have completed training or are taking classes to become licensed foster care providers, according to the Utah Foster Care Foundation. That's good news for the 2,650 children currently in state care provided by the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS).
The DCFS prefers to place children with relatives over foster parents to maintain the child's culture and ties to family. But, before the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, unwed same-sex couples in the child's life didn't meet the state's requirement that children only go to households of married couples.
"Because of something like this (prohibition on co-habitating adults providing kinship care), in every other way they're qualified; they're compassionate loving and caring. They know these kids, and they say, 'I want to take care of these kids,' and we had to say 'Sorry, you can't,'" Brent Platt, director of Division of Child and Family Services, told Deseret News.
The new shift in the law has some people concerned about the placement of children in same-sex homes.
Lynn Wardle, professor of law in the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University, specializes in family law and advocated for traditional family structures—meaning one man, one woman marriages.
"We must not allow popular cultural fads, lifestyles and fashions undermine the best interests of children," he said.
DCFS makes it very clear their top priority is doing what's best for the children.
"The reality is, we don't decide how a family is defined. We support kids and families in whatever the family unit is, and we keep our personal opinions out of it. The reality is, if you can't keep them out of it, then you might want to find another job. The expectation is you're going to respect whatever family unit you're involved with," Platt said.
I say, if two loving adults want to open their home to a child in need and they complete the required training and application process, why not let them?
In the end, these children simply need guidance, nurturing, routine and a safe place to call home. It really doesn't matter if it's hosted by two mothers, two fathers or one of each.
What do you think?
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