Gay, lesbian, and bisexual foster parents: strengths and challenges for the child welfare system

Child Welfare. 2006 Mar-Apr;85(2):281-98.


Historically, a shortage of skilled and dedicated foster parents has existed in America. Lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LBG) foster parents have received little attention in the published literature. This article documents the challenges and successes of a group of 60 LGB foster parents. All participants provided foster parenting for public (state or county) agencies. The primary successes of this group included meaningful and gratifying parenting and successful testing of whether adoption might be a natural next step after foster parenting. The primary challenges included insensitive, inappropriate, and difficult social workers; state or local laws that worked against successful foster parenting by LGB adults; failure to recognize parents' partners; and lack of support by the system to acknowledge the important role of LGB parents. Numerous recommendations are identified for improving how LGB foster parents are supported within child welfare systems including foster parent and social worker training in LGB issues.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bisexuality*
  • Child
  • Child Welfare / psychology*
  • Child Welfare / statistics & numerical data
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Foster Home Care / psychology*
  • Foster Home Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Homosexuality*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parenting*
  • Social Support