Waymon Hudson

Gay Couple Speaks Out about Florida Adoption Ban Victory

Filed By Waymon Hudson | September 24, 2008 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living, Politics
Tags: adoption ban, Florida, foster care, gay adoption, LGBT parents

Many of our readers wanted to make sure they were kept updated on the gay couple from Key West, Florida that sued the state so they could adopt their foster son. 750-04couple21_adopt_mhd_cpj_embedded_prod_affiliate_56.jpgThe couple won the case when the judge declared the Florida adoption ban unconstitutional. Now the couple is speaking out.

In an interview with the Miami Herald, Wayne Larue Smith and partner Daniel Skahen talk about their family and more details about the case are revealed. The article is reporting that the state attorney general's office will not appeal the order, which means the decision will not be reviewed by a higher court and therefore hold no sway in future cases. In the past, the attorney general's office has argued in court records they are "upholding public morality and providing for the healthy development of foster children by ensuring they are raised by dual-sex parents."

Much more, including a video interview link with the couple, after the jump...

In the interview, the couple talks about their fight to adopt their now 12 year-old foster son:

The two men have fostered more than 30 children since DCF accepted their application nine years ago, from a 2-day-old newborn to a 17-year-old. Still, there was something missing.

The little boy who had come to their home in 2001 wanted a real father, Smith said. Not a foster dad. Not a permanent guardian -- a legal nicety that occurred in 2004 granting Smith the ability to make decisions on the boy's behalf.

At the doctor's office, at the grocery store, at an airline ticket counter, the boy seemed to visibly deflate every time a stranger asked Smith, ''Is that your son?'' Smith said.

One part of the interview I found revealing about the hurdles LGBT parents have to face came from the boy's teacher, who openly talked about looking for things the parents were doing wrong just because they were gay:

The 12-year-old boy's teacher testified the couple were among the most involved and nurturing parents in her class. ''I must confess,'' she told a judge, ``the first year I had him, knowing he was of gay parents, I looked for things, and I found nothing.''

As a foster parent in the state of Florida, I can certainly vouch for the higher standards and difficulties same-sex couples face in the state. The very presence of the ban on adoption creates an atmosphere of distrust around gay parents, much like what the teacher alludes to.

Watch a video interview from the couple here.

When it comes to being a family against all odds in Florida, perhaps Skahen says it best:

We were a family going into this. We're just more of a solidified family now.

Cross-posted on Bilerico-Florida.

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Thanks for the update, Waymon. Their case has a lot resting on its back. So many families are counting on it to stand.

While there is no doubt that case is legally important, more than anything I'm just happy for the child who finally has a father of his own.

Good News...doesn't it warm your heart?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 25, 2008 3:50 AM

What wonderful news! Am I clear on this?, the ban is overturned, burned, buried, destroyed, and beaten into dust?

Excuse me, I think I hear a wine bottle opening.

Wonderful reporting Waymon. You made my day!

Unfortunately, the ban is still in effect statewide. Since this court case didn't go up the ladder in appeals, it only applies to this family. Read Nancy Polikoff's breakdown of it for all the details: http://www.bilerico.com/2008/09/florida_adoption_ban_declared_unconstitu.php

So while this is great news, it is a small step in the right direction.

Florida is the state that seems to have gone to the greatest extremes when it comes to restricting gay adoption and gay parenting. The rest of the country doesn't seem to care as much.

Which is different from here in France, where gay marriage is barely talked about - gay activists are working for gay adoption. It's what they ask every politician who gets interviewed in the local gay mag, and it's what conservatives keep on trying to get passed but always fail - a constitutional amendment saying that every child has the right to a mother and a father.

But outside of Arkansas and Florida, we don't hear much about adoption in the US.