by PFP parent Leigh Braden
On September 21, 2017 I attended a foster parent recruitment meeting at the William Way Center co-hosted by the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs and Philly Family Pride.
This meeting was held to recruit potential foster parents from the LGBTQ community who would provide loving homes to LGBTQ youth. I attended as a representative of A Second Chance Inc., an organization I work with that specializes in kinship care.
The organizers of the meeting had asked a panel of folks to speak about their experiences and share resources with the group – a foster care agency, LGBTQ foster parents and an 18-year old LGBT-identified youth named Frank.
The room fell silent to hear this soft-spoken, sweet, sad kid talk about how hard it had been for him in foster care, how he came to America from Indonesia fleeing persecution for being gay and how he had no family and wanted to be in a family.
He talked about his love for music and how he had to sell his keyboard when he went into care and how he missed feeling comfortable and affirmed. I could feel tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. I approached Frank after the meeting and asked if we could have lunch together suggesting that maybe I could help him with this situation and find hiim a better home.
Frank agreed and that same week we met. He told me more of his story and how he was in an accelerated high school program in Indonesia and graduated from school early, about the circumstances he lived in while in Indonesia and the kind of fear and discrimination he felt as a sexual minority.
His father died when he was 4 years old and his mother plummeted into poverty and could not take care of her children any more. We talk for a long time. By the end of the lunch, I knew that we were the foster family that Frank needed. I knew that we could give him an affirming home.
My wife Sophie and I talked to our 8 year-old son who loved the idea of having a big brother. We had Frank over for dinner and the decision was made to offer to be his foster family. He said yes and I sprang into action.
We were certified in a month to be foster parents for Frank. This is very fast, but as a person who works in the field I knew exactly what we needed to do and how to get it done quickly.
Frank moved into our home October 27, 2017.
He has integrated into our family and we care about him. He is neither soft-spoken nor sad anymore. He is a teenager, which is fun and frustrating all at the same time.
Frank is applying to colleges for the fall of 2018. I am teaching him how to drive, and Sophie and I are learning how to parent a teenager. Every day Frank sits at the piano in our home and makes beautiful music. We have high hopes for him and his future.
If you live in Pennsylvania and are interested in becoming a foster parent for LGBTQ youth, contact Leigh at email@example.com.