Pay it Forward icon 1Pay It Forward
Orion Olsen

On January 23, 2019, the federal Department of Health and Human Services gave a waiver to a Christianbased foster care licensing organization to openly discriminate against Jewish adoptive parents. Shortly after Trump stated his support for this, an effort was made through a budget bill to expand allowing discrimination based on faith.

Progress, in an article titled ‘Welcoming All Families,’ it has been found that 19%-23% of youth in the U.S. foster care system identify as LGBTQ. This means that LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the foster care system by at least a factor of two. Abuse, rejection by their families, and discrimination are all contributors to this overrepresentation. The thought of organizations being given permission to discriminate against foster and adoptive parents who are LGBTQ+ and/or nonChristian upsets me greatly. I remembered two very important people whom I met when I was receiving services to access hospital diversion beds (HDB) through Child’s Crisis Outreach Response System, (CCORS), named Kim and Cathy. When I first met them, I was overwhelmed and grateful about how I was treated while in their care. I was respected, which made me feel dignified. I was welcomed as if I was part of their family, which is something that I had not been able to experience in other HDB placements. The household was large. There were other kids who were in foster care, a grandson and both Kim and Cathy’s moms living there, pride flag 01.cmyk

Within my first few days, Kim and Cathy sat me down and shared with me that they were a lesbian couple. I was taken aback and honored that they told me this. I felt sad when they asked me, “does this bother you?” I wholeheartedly said, “no, not at all.”

I enjoyed dinner time because I would help Kim cook dinner and prepare dessert nearly every day while I was there. I loved that I was trusted to do so and how eager she was to let me help her. When everyone would be gathered at the table for dinner, we joined hands and said grace much to my surprise. I was asked questions, and listened to by everyone there, and it felt like I had known everyone for years. My favorite days were Friday nights because those were game nights. I was taught how to play Magic the Gathering. On one of these game nights we were intensely engaged in a two-hour long game of Uno, the longest game I have ever played in my life. There was so much laughter and good feelings in this home. Deep down I never wanted to leave. I still find myself occasionally wishing that I could have stayed there forever. Although this placement was temporary, it changed my life forever.

On March 13, 2019, Sen. Jeff Merkley introduced the Equality Act of 2019 in the United States Senate. If passed, the Equality Act would provide consistent, explicit, and transparent non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. It would amend existing civil rights laws including the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Jury Selection and Services Act, and several others regarding employment with the federal government to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics. This legislation would also prohibit discrimination in public spaces and services and federally funded programs on the basis of sex.

You can help ensure that every child has a family, regardless of their caretaker’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Share your family, foster care, adoption or ally story with your member of Congress and tell them why you oppose discrimination in foster care and adoption. Do your part and continue to speak out against state-sanctioned discrimination that harms America’s most vulnerable children.

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