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    Family Builders Shows that Love, Not Blood, Makes a Family

    Dads’ Unconditional Love and Support Transform Life of Child in Foster Care

    By Elizabeth Cotterell

    “The way Apple changed our lives is beyond words. It’s amazing to see how a child can thrive when they’re put into the right situation … and what they can overcome with good care, love, positive attention, and nurturing parents.” –Robbie McMillan

    Robbie and Marcus had been together for over 10 years when they decided they wanted to be dads. They had an overwhelming desire to pass on their knowledge to help someone navigate through life—to teach someone how to respect others, and how to appreciate the vast diversity in the world. More importantly, they wanted to guide someone who has no one else to guide them, which is why they chose to grow their family by adopting a child from the foster care system.

    Robbie and Marcus spent countless hours researching the different agencies in the Bay Area that focused on adoption through foster care, but couldn’t find an organization that truly made them feel welcomed as a mixed-race gay couple. After reaching out to some friends in the area, they were referred to Family Builders—a local nonprofit that helps LGBT individuals/couples adopt children from the foster care system. They decided to attend one of Family Builders’ monthly Orientations, and left feeling overwhelmingly confident that not only was the fost-adopt (adoption through foster care) process the right path for them, but also that Family Builders was the right organization to guide them on their journey to parenthood.

    After completing all of the program requirements to become a certified family, they were soon matched with a three-month-old infant named Apple. Overwhelmed with excitement and anticipation, they walked into the building on a Tuesday afternoon to meet their daughter for the first time. It was on that day that their lives changed forever. They were now dads to a beautiful baby girl—full of happiness, love, pride and joy for the life they now have to look forward to.

    Apple has grown tremendously over the last four years, and is thriving thanks to the unconditional love and support she receives from her dads. For over forty years, Family Builders has helped children like Apple find loving, supportive parents like Robbie and Marcus, transforming the lives of countless children in foster care. Children who are adopted see a myriad of benefits as opposed to children who remain in foster care. They see a 50 percent increase in educational progress, are 23 percent more likely to graduate from high school or get a GED, are 50 percent less likely to be arrested, are 20 percent less likely to become a teen parent, are 24 percent less likely to be unemployed, and are significantly less likely to become homeless. With more than 61,000 children currently in California’s foster care system, there is a tremendous need for more families to step up and consider adoption through foster care.

    Who is eligible to be a potential adoptive parent? Family Builders welcome all individuals and couples to learn about the fost-adopt process, and every interested potential adoptive parent—regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, relation or marital status, religion, national origin, disability status, domestic partner status, veteran status, HIV/AIDS status etc.—is considered and evaluated based on their ability to meet the diverse needs of children in foster care. Additionally, they offer services in English and Spanish and welcome monolingual Spanish-speaking families as potential adoptive parents.

    The first step in the process to become a foster or adoptive parent is to attend Family Builders’ Orientation—a two-hour information session explaining the ins-and-outs of the fost-adopt process. The intent of the Orientation is to ensure attendees have enough information about the process to make an informed decision as to whether or not the fost-adopt program is right for them.

    In addition to adoption services, Family Builders offers an array of programs to support children, youth and their families impacted by the foster care system, and is looking to expand vital LGBT services in the coming years. Family Builders can be reached at 510-536-KIDS (5437).

    If you are interested in attending a Family Builders Orientation, they are held:

    • Every 1st Saturday of the month, 9:45 am–12:00 pm, at Family Builders Office (1900 Embarcadero Suite 303, Oakland, CA 94606)
    • Every 2nd Tuesday of the month, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm, at Unitarian Universalist Church (1187 Franklin St, San Francisco, CA 94109)

    Elizabeth Cotterell is the Development Director of Family Builders, http://www.familybuilders.org/