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Gay Quebeckers get leg up on adoption

Groups collaborate on comprehensive guide

Queer couples in Quebec looking to adopt a child have a new resource to help them navigate the complexities of the system.

A new guide, published by a trio of advocacy groups, is a comprehensive FAQ for would-be parents, addressing the special concerns of gays and lesbians. Gay and lesbian couples have had full parental rights in Quebec since 2002, but many couples face homophobic resistance.

Mona Greenbaum is a member of the Lesbian Mother’s Association, and worked on the guide. She says that her group was concerned because, despite their legal rights, adoptions for queer families were being blocked in practice. They created the guide in order to educate families and to provide a resource for social workers in Quebec’s youth centres, where children await foster parents.

“We wanted to let people know that, yes, you might be the first person adopting a child through your particular youth centre as an openly gay or lesbian couple, but you should keep going,” says Greenbaum. “[Couples] shouldn’t give up because they’ve encountered some hesitation or a few funny questions.”

Greenbaum’s group involved the youth centres in the creation of the guide, which she says led to the creation of a precise and comprehensive document for families and social workers alike. She adds that there are now about 18 pending adoption files from queer families in Quebec, a number roughly proportionate to the gay and lesbian population.

In 1995, Ontario became the first province to sanction adoption by gay families. British Columbia, Alberta, and Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan followed suit.

Gary Sutherland, from the Papa-Daddy Group, adopted a child in 2005. He says he encountered no homophobia, and that the staff and the youth centre told him they were inexperienced with queer families but open to working with him. But he felt the guide was necessary in order to address the uneasiness of some gays and lesbians considering adoption.

“One reason we made the guide is because there are a lot of people who have apprehensions, who are not willing to just call up and ask, and want to know in advance what the reaction might be.”

For his part, Sutherland says the staff at the youth centre wanted to make sure that he and his partner were out of the closet and had good relations with their families, so that the child would able to openly talk about his two fathers.

According to Sutherland, the guide’s appeal is not limited to queer couples. Since it is a comprehensive resource on Quebec adoption, straight couples have been relying on it to get them through the often complex process.