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|Melissa Carter: We can help bridge the gap between past neglect and future stability|
|by Melissa Carter|
|May 11, 2012 00:00|
I think we’ve made great progress with Trevor. Our first foster dog, this GoldenDoodle was found on the streets of Alabama and sent to Adopt A Golden Atlanta.
A few years ago, we adopted our dog GiGi from Adopt-A-Golden. They asked that we foster Trevor and try to get him more comfortable and emotionally healthy so he could one day soon be moved into a loving and permanent home.
When Trevor came to us he kept his distance, literally. We let him out in our fenced back yard and that is where he stayed, choosing instead to sleep outside the first night. He wouldn’t let us pet him and showed his teeth to our other animals when they came too close.
Having just been neutered, Trevor was protective of his fresh scar and was too shy and withdrawn to even look us in the eye. But in just a few weeks, Trevor has reminded us of the power of love and family.
Why did we decide to offer our home as a refuge for these canines and willingly take on the challenge of trying to heal the scars of someone else’s bad parenting? We learned from GiGi that dogs who had been abandoned and hurt have the same need for love and a home as all dogs. They are eager to trust but are hiding behind the fear and pain that they have suffered in the past.
On this Mother’s Day weekend, I couldn’t help but think the same philosophy must hold true for those who decide to take in neglected and abused children and provide them a foster home until adoption or adulthood.
There are countless stories of children who changed our world after being loved and supported by foster parents: Cher, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Eddie Murphy, John Lennon, Ice T, Steve Jobs, Willie Nelson, Eriq LaSalle, Alonzo Mourning, Dante Culpepper, Tommy Davidson, and even Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Others like Pierce Brosnan, Ted Danson and Josephine Baker opened their homes to these children. Governor Sonny Perdue and his wife, Mary, served as foster parents for eight children. Former Atlanta Falcon Keith Brooking founded an organization that serves the needs of foster children after his mother served as a foster parent.
Now, more than ever, there is a growing need for foster families. Over 13,000 children came through the foster care system in Georgia just last year. On any given day, 7,000 kids are in the state’s system, many waiting and needing a home.
When it comes to LGBT youth, the foster care experience can be the most challenging and tough. According to the American Bar Association, virtually all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning kids in group homes had reported verbal harassment; 70 percent had been subjected to violence; and 78 percent have either run away or been removed from a foster placement for reasons related to their sexuality.
There can be no doubt that if there were more gay and gay-friendly couples adopting these children, their experiences would be dramatically better. And in Georgia, no law prevents gay couples from adopting and fostering children.
As I write this article, Trevor is joining us on a getaway to Florida for his first beach trip. In the month we have had him, he has adapted to the little customs of our family that include daily wrestling with our GoldenDoodle Sully, sprints down the hall with our Siamese Nikko, and fetching various flying objects that litter our back yard. He now trusts us enough to lie on our laps and accept our affection, and happily runs inside the house from the back yard.
With every day that passes we grow to love Trevor more, knowing that someday soon we will have to say goodbye to him. However, our sacrifice ensures that Trevor will find new and long-lasting companionship with someone that is meant to be his buddy.
Melissa Carter is also a writer for Huffington Post. She broke ground as the first out lesbian radio personality on a major station in Atlanta and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter
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