By Rachel Herndon, MSW
Our Family Coalition Night Out Gala
Since Adoption Connection is based in San Francisco, we’re lucky to have many opportunities to participate in local events sponsored by LGBTQ organizations. On a recent Friday night in May, Rachel Herndon, Director of Birthparent Services at Adoption Connection attended the 2oth Anniversary Night Out Gala, sponsored by Our Family Coalition an education and advocacy organization supporting queer families with children in the Bay Area. Our Family Coalition articulates their vision as an organization that “seeks to create an inclusive and just world where all LGBT families with children have visibility and opportunities to thrive as valued participants in our schools, institutions and communities.”
Adoption Connection Represents
All different kinds of parents and professionals celebrated the mission of Our Family Coalition and raised much needed funds to help advance social justice and visibility for children in LGBTQ families. Attendees included Adoption Connection adoptive parents Flavio Epstein and Drew Parker-Rose, who proudly shared recent pictures of their four year old daughter. Also on hand to celebrate was Charlie Spiegel, Adoption Connection friend (and sometimes our attorney) and adoptive father of one of our favorite young adoptee guest speakers, Nora. Charlie has supported Our Family Coalition generously for years and has assisted countless LGBT families with adoption and surrogacy. Noting the improved representation of LGBT families in the media, Spiegel observed “When Nora was young, it was unusual to see families like mine in the media let alone represented at a gala. And now there are literally thousands of children who know that they are not alone.”
Keynote Speaker Bishop Yvette Flunder elicited a laugh when she commented that she has been dating fellow Keynote Speaker California State Senator Mark Leno for years — hilarious to the in-the-know crowd since Leno has been out and proud for years. Following the lighthearted moment, both Flunder and Leno spoke seriously about the march of progress San Francisco and the greater Bay Area has made over the past 20 years and how much further we still have to go toward true equity and inclusion for all families.
The highlight of the evening was Miss Major, a hilarious and powerful transgender parent, grandparent, community leader and one-time activist at the 1969 Stonewall riots. Miss Major, the subject of Major! a new documentary film debuting at film festivals throughout 2016, continues to work toward radical justice for all kinds of parents and children. Miss Major shared that half of her six children (5 adopted from foster care) call her “mom” and the other half call her “dad.” She rightly noted that she doesn’t care what they call her as long as they use a respectful tone! Her Bay Area home has become a safe house for discarded queer and transgender youth over the years, and she is a familiar leader at marches and protests around the Bay for social justice issues affecting families.
Reflections on Our Work in Adoptions
Sometimes in our work as adoption social workers in San Francisco we take for granted that children thrive in a wide variety of family environments and gender has no bearing on good parenting – but spending an evening with some of the longtime pillars of the LGBTQ family-building community really drove home the point that many people fought and struggled for this new normal. And many families outside of the Bay Area still struggle and fight to been seen and accepted. At Adoption Connection, we are honored, humbled and reinvigorated to get back to work, building families in the inclusive and open hearted way that we do. Thank you, Our Family Coalition, for 20 years of your advocacy and work, and here’s to 20 more!
Adoption Connection is honored to be recognized by the Human Rights Commission as a Leader in supporting LGBTQ families through their All Children All Families Project.