LANSING, Mich. — The state of Michigan recently settled a lawsuit allowing religious charities to refuse foster and adoption services to LGBTQ families. But that same day, the state announced a new task force designed to support LGBTQ families who want to foster or adopt.
“There's a wide variety of feelings and emotions connected to how people are responding to the settlement," said Amy Bailey, the executive director of Arbor Circle's child welfare program. "I have heard from a lot of LGBTQ community members, foster and adoptive parents. Of course, a lot of disappointment around this. A lot of frustration and hurt.”
Bailey is a LGBTQ foster parent as well. She explained that in Michigan, because of the settlement, some LGBTQ families don't have great access to support through the fostering and adoption process.
“We know that there are some communities in the state that don't have organizations that are not religious. And so I've heard a lot about some people struggling in those particular communities," Bailey said.
In Michigan the need for families is dire, Bailey reports about 11,000 children are currently in foster care.
"So it is about 12:30 p.m. and I've already received emails for 19 separate children who need foster home placements who have no idea where they're sleeping tonight. So it's just.. It’s severe," she said.
In response, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees Michigan's Children's Services, announced a new task force to figure out ways to help support LGBTQ families that want to foster or adopt children.
“We want to make sure that we are reassuring and supporting our LGBTQ plus families by enhancing our resources and support and continue to welcome these, these members of this community into being foster care and adoptive parents," said Rachel Willis, a task force liaison for the state health department.
The task force has 20 members right now and is open to more, Willis said. It will be co-chaired by Stacie Gibson of the state health department and Lansing City Council Member Peter Spadafore.
The task force will meet over the next six months and come up with recommendations to strengthen support for LGBTQ families.
If you are interested in learning more about fostering and adoption in Michigan check out the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange.
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