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Illinois groups encourage more lesbian and gay couples to foster and adopt

With same-sex marriage widely accepted a year after it was legalized by the Supreme Court, some community groups are hoping less rigid attitudes will prompt more gay and lesbian couples to consider fostering or adopting a child.

“Across the country and especially in Illinois, we just don’t have enough people who have stepped forward, and we think that in the (LGBT) community there are people who would be good parents,” said Susan McConnell, founder and director of Let It Be Us, a local nonprofit adoption and foster care advocacy group.

Let It Be Us and other adoption and foster agencies have joined forces with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to hold workshops that provide encouragement and advice to potential gay and lesbian parents.

There are 17,019 children in foster care in Illinois – about 6,100 of those children are being cared for by people who are not relatives. And on any given day, about 1,000 children are available for adoption, according to DCFS.

Dawnn Pirani-Brumfield, 38, and her wife, Rachel, 37, of South Deering, Ill., are in the process of adopting 13-year-old Alicia, who describes herself as gender nonconforming.

“When she came in, she just thought it was the best thing ever that we were married and we were same gender and she felt that she was going to be safer with us in her own gender expression and sexuality,” Rachel Pirani-Brumfield said.

Although LGBT people make up 2 to 4 percent of the U.S. adult population, the Williams Institute said same-sex couples are about six times more likely to raise foster youth and four times more likely to raise adopted youth than heterosexual couples. The Williams Institute is a UCLA-based think tank focused on sexual orientation and gender identity research.

Mark Wilson knows firsthand how important it is to get LGBT families involved in child care. The 47-year-old Oak Park resident has been a foster father to straight and gay children for more than a decade. He and his husband, Bryan Northup, 42, have been married since 2013 and are currently fostering two small children. Their oldest foster child is 30.

As many as 2 million to 3.7 million U.S. children under 18 are estimated to have had a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender parent, and about 200,000 were being raised by same-sex couples as of fall 2015, according to the Williams Institute.

via Tri-City Herald