Not long after Robert Moore and Toua Thao married four years ago, the couple decided to complete their family by adopting a child.
Being a gay couple, however, they worried that foster agencies would not be comfortable with letting them become a resource family, says Moore. They turned to Sierra Forever Families, a private, nonprofit agency in Sacramento that arranges foster adoptions.
“At Sierra, being gay was a non-issue,” Moore says. “It was more about whether we could be good parents rather than whether we were gay or straight.”
They filled out documents and attended parenting classes. Afterward, their social worker began the process of matching them with a child.
The social worker told them about a 10-year-old boy named Josh. The child suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress because of past emotional and physical abuse and neglect, Moore says.
The social worker arranged for them to meet Josh at a local restaurant. After the meeting, Moore and Thao knew they wanted to raise Josh.
It was seven months, however, before Josh felt comfortable enough to move into his new home. “Bonding was a long process with Josh,” Moore says. “He really didn’t trust people, and it was hard tearing down the wall at first.”
To help Josh bond, Sierra provided a therapist who regularly visited the home to counsel Josh. The agency also offered other referrals, including a psychologist to work with the family.
Cathi Johnson, a Resource Family Approval Program Manager with Sacramento County Child Protective Services, says the county and foster agencies both offer a number of pre- and post-placement services for resource parents, including parenting classes and counseling services.
“All children have access to counseling services regardless of whether they’re with a county home or foster agency,” Johnson says. “The big difference is that foster agencies are smaller and have their own social workers assigned to homes in addition to the county social worker.”
Today, Josh is 13, and Moore says his son’s adjustment to his new home went more smoothly than expected. They finalized Josh’s adoption in summer 2015. That fall, they adopted his baby brother, Zach, who is 2.
For now, Moore says they have no immediate plans to adopt more children, although they have discussed it.
“With two kids, our plates are pretty full,” Moore says. “But the best thing is watching the kids grow up and seeing Josh learning to trust again. It’s brought a sense of completion to our family.”