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Leading foster care agency: ‘We really need more foster parents’

Written by gaytourism

Foster dads Jeffery Rundhaug and Brian Dempkey with son Israel. | Photo: supplied

Jeffery Rundhaug and Brian Dempkey have always felt called upon to be foster parents.

The gay couple from Grand Rapids, Michigan say they started hosting exchange students and that’s when they realized they wanted to be parents.

They have one adopted son, Israel, and one foster son, Grayson (also known as Andre).

Dempkey said in a video: ‘We had always wanted to be dads and that was just something we decided to do.’

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The gay dads both come from backgrounds that are not supportive of LGBTI people.

So their initial thoughts were: ‘Will the kids be picked on? Is it going to harm their life more by being adopted by gay people?’

While choking back tears, Rundhaug continued: ‘It became completely clear, the night that we met our son, how badly he wanted a family. He immediately started calling us dads,’ he said.

So he asked Israel: ‘What do you think about being adopted by gay people?’

Israel replied: ‘It doesn’t matter to me, I just want a home.’

‘It takes a village to raise a child’

There are approximately 14,000 children in foster care in Michigan.

Each year, approximately 3,000 of these children will become legally free for adoption. On average, 300 children are waiting with no identified families.

Samaritas is the largest private foster care agency in Michigan.

Their goal is to help more families in their homes to prevent children being removed into foster care.

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Samaritas Executive Director of Foster Care Laura Mitchell told Gay Star News: ‘It’s our job to connect families with community resources, so they have what they need, to become a whole, thriving family.

‘There is a well-known saying that it takes a village to raise a child.

‘This is actually a proverb originating with African cultures, to indicate the importance of having all the supports in place to raise a healthy, whole, thriving person to adulthood,’ she said.

Dempkey said a some of the major foster agencies refuse to work with same-sex parents in Michigan.

That’s why Samaritas is so important, he says.

So the gay dads actually adopted Andre last month. They also won the Adoptive Family Excellence Award from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

For more information on being foster parents or if you’re interested in adoption, visit the Samaritas website.

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