May is National Foster Care Month

by Suan Stapatyanon, Ph.D.

Rage Monthly

Saturday May 9, 2015

When David and Eduardo were ready to start a family, they decided to become foster parents because they realized so many children needed a home. Three years later, they are the adoring and loving dads to their 6-year-old adopted son, who had been in foster care with them for over a year. They are also looking forward to finalizing the adoption of their 8-month-old foster daughter.

Angel and Yulma wanted to give children a loving home, until they could be reunified with their birth families. Angel's two young sons, were also eager to have another child in the home. Landon was placed in their home when he was two weeks old. When his birth parents decided that they could not care for him, Angel and her household, happily decided to make him a permanent part of their family. His adoption was finalized before his third birthday.

After Norma's long-time love and partner passed away, she felt a purpose of caring for and welcoming foster children into her home. In the three years that she has been a foster parent, she has been a parent, friend and trusted adult to several teenage girls.

Family Stories

Each parent has a different story about their journey that led them to becoming foster parents. Every parent who has fostered a child shares a similar feeling of love and pride in the family they have created.

The Family They Have Created

Foster care is about creating a loving home environment and family for children who are not able to live with their birth families. When you become a foster parent, you open your heart and home to children who have experienced and witnessed abuse, neglect, violence and other circumstances that have put them at risk. You provide them with the love, support, care and opportunities that you would if they were your biological children.

"When you treat the children as your children, they sense that," says foster parent Eduardo Chavez, "and you can see the positive changes in the kids." The children may live with you temporarily until their birth families are able to care for them again. Or, the placement may turn into an adoption and your home may become a "forever home" for a child.

Foster Parenting In The LGBT Community

The climate of foster care has been gradually changing in a positive direction, especially in California. California is one of six states in which there are clearly defined non-discrimination policies that safeguard the rights of LGBT individuals and couples to become foster parents. Even with these policies in place, it is important for prospective foster parents to do their research and look to work with LGBT affirmative agencies. This will make for a smoother and more positive process.

"There is still controversy about whether gay individuals and couples should be able to be parents," foster parent Angel Diaz observes, "But I think this is a great opportunity to show that... our contribution to society is as positive as any other individuals and couples and we can make a positive influence in a child's life."

Valencia-Tinoco, another LGBT foster parent, agrees. "I have heard ignorant remarks such as, if I'm lesbian, how can I help give proper guidance or values to kids?" She adds that such reactions serve as a learning opportunity for her teens. She tells them to, "Have the courage in life... to stand up for themselves and their beliefs... Even if they didn't ask to be in the situation."

The Human Rights Campaign's All Children All Families Project has a list of agencies which have been awarded its "Seal of Recognition."

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the requirements of becoming a foster parent?

    To become a foster parent in California you must...

    ∑Be at least 21 years of age.

    ∑Have no criminal record.

    ∑Provide proof of car insurance.

    ∑Provide a copy of DMV driving record.

    ∑Have sufficient family income-foster care is not considered income.

    ∑Have sufficient room in your home.

    ∑Have a valid California ID, Driver's License, or U.S. Passport.

    Requirements may differ in your state of residence.

  • What are the qualities of a good foster parent?

    In our work with hundreds of parents over the years, we have found that the best (and most satisfied) foster parents, are the ones who are committed to parenting. They do not have to be experts or even have previous experience in working with children. In their hearts, they want to provide a safe, loving, long-term home and family environment for a child. They are patient and motivated to act in the child's best interest. They are able to work as a team with social workers and other professionals.

  • Must I be married or partnered to become a foster parent?

    No, single individuals are also encouraged to become foster parents!

  • Do I need to live in a house or own my own home?

    No, you may rent your home, apartment or house as long as there are enough bedrooms to accommodate a child or children.

  • I work outside the home. Can I become a foster parent?

    Yes. Your priorities and schedule may change when you are a parent, but foster parents are encouraged to continue with their careers, aspirations, hobbies and interests!

  • Should I disclose my LGBT status?

    Yes. Disclosure is advised early in the process to ensure that you are comfortable with the prospective foster agency and that they provide LGBT culturally competent services.

    For more information, or to see if your foster family agency is designated as a "Leader in Supporting and Serving LGBT Youth and Families," go to

    Suan Stapatyanon, Ph.D. is the Program Director at Our Small World Foster Family Agency, located in Orange County. Our Small World Foster Family Agency is a private non-profit foster family agency in Orange County. Since 2006, they have been finding homes for children from birth to 21 years of age. We are an LGBT affirmative agency and are recognized by HRC's All Children All Families. If you have considered becoming a fos- ter parent, please contact us at 714.704.4545. We will be happy to answer your questions and schedule an orientation.

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