Every Kid Deserves a Family or If They’re Really Lucky, Two Dads


MAPA FAMILY

My husband and I adopted our son Zion out of foster care when he was five years old. We were upfront about the kind of family we were from the start. We told him there are all types of families. Some have a mom and a dad, some have one mom, or one dad, some have two moms.

But YOU have two dads, plus, each of us is different — Papa is from New Orleans so he’s Cajun, which means he’s kind of French. I’m Filipino; you’re black. But the thing that makes us a family is that we love each other. On Zion’s first day of kindergarten, we picked him up and a kid sees us and says to him “You have two dads?”  My son says yes and the other kid asks “Why?” Zion said, “Because we’re French!”

Our son had been in foster care since he was three years old. He came into our care with a long history of neglect and physical abuse. He suffered from malnutrition, developmental delays, ADHD, Reactive Attachment Disorder and PTSD. Remember what it felt like to lose sight of your mom at the supermarket when you were a kid? Zion lost both of his parents and by the time we met him we were his fifth foster placement in two years.

Others saw an older kid with behavioral issues. We saw an amazing, bright, loving kid who needed us. We got his health back on track, therapists to help unpack his trauma, an occupational therapist to shore up the developmental delays and a psychiatrist to secure the proper meds for his ADHD.

Our son is now 14 years old and towers over me. He is a straight-A student who excels at math, science, and physics. He’s a fearless athlete, a black belt in Aikido, a DJ, and a musician who plays five different instruments. The best part about having an adopted kid is that I can brag about him getting straight-As because I know he didn’t get that from me (despite the fact that I’m Asian!)  Zion is loving, courageous and resilient in spite of everything he’s been through.

Was any of this easy? No. It’s takes vigilance and persistence to advocate for our son’s needs, but we were able to do that because we live in a state where it is illegal for any government funded agency to discriminate against qualified parents based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, marital status or religion.

Not every child in need of a home is so lucky. There is a foster care and adoption crisis in our country. There are over 400,000 kids in foster care with over 100,000 of those kids waiting to be adopted.

Same-sex couples are seven times more likely to foster, and seven times more likely to adopt than opposite-sex couples. LGBTQ people are also more likely to adopt children of color, older children, and children with disabilities — children who have the most difficulty finding forever homes. Despite the huge numbers of kids in desperate need of permanent homes, current law in nine states specifically permits foster care and adoption agencies to turn away qualified LGBTQ people, single people, and people of various religious minorities who wish to foster and adopt. These kids deserve a system that works for them, not against them.

The Every Child Deserves A Family Act is legislation sponsored by Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.), Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón (R-P.R.) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) that promotes the best interest of foster children by increasing the number of foster and adoptive homes for all children. It does so by prohibiting federally funded child welfare service providers from discriminating against families and individuals based on religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and marital status. This law would give every child and youth in foster care a better chance at having the forever family they deserve. We have a major crisis in this country that harms hundreds of thousands of Zions. The Every Child Deserves a Family Act is a solution.

When we picked our son up from the Department of Child and Family Services, he was sitting between two garbage bags. One bag held his clothes and the other his toys. This tiny little boy was sitting between them like another bag of garbage someone had dropped off and forgotten about. No child should ever feel discarded. Whether you’re five, seven or eight years old, you need your mom or dad, or better yet, two guys with a really cute house.

We recently heard about an 18 year old teen aging out of the system who still wanted to be adopted. When asked why, she replied “I’m going to college, don’t you think I’d still want a family to come home to at Thanksgiving or Christmas? Don’t you think I’d still want a place where I felt I belonged?”

Alejandro “Alec” Mapa is an American actor, comedian and writer. He got his first professional break when he was cast to replace B. D. Wong for the role of Song Liling in the Broadway production of M. Butterfly.

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Published by CityFella

Big city fella, Born and Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lived in New York (a part time New Yorker) for three years . I have lived in the Sacramento area since 1993. When I first moved here, I hated it. Initially found the city too conservative for my tastes. A great place to raise children however too few options for adults . The city has grown up, there is much to do here. The city suffers from low self esteem in my opinion, locals have few positive words to say about their hometown. visitors and transplants are amazed at what they find here. From, the grand old homes in Alkali Flats, and the huge trees in midtown, there are many surprises in Sacramento. Theater is alive is this area . And finally ,there is a nightlife... In.downtown midtown, for the young and not so young. My Criticism is with local government. There is a shortage of visionaries in city hall. Sacramento has long relied on the state, feds and real estate for revenue. Like many cities in America,Downtown Sacramento was the hub of activity in the area. as the population moved to the suburbs and retail followed. The city has spent millions to revive downtown. Today less than ten thousand people live downtown. No one at city hall could connect the dots. Population-Retail. Business says Sacramento is challenging and many corporations have chosen to set up operations outside the cities limits. There is vision in the burbs. Sacramento has bones, there are many good pieces here, leaders seem unable or unwilling to put those pieces together into. Rant aside, I love it here. From the trees to the rivers. But its the people here that move me. Sacramento is one of the most integrated cities in America. I find I'm welcome everywhere. The spices work in this city of nearly 500,000 and for the most part these spices blend well together. From Ukrainians to Hispanics and a sizable gay community, all the spices seem to work well here. I frequently travel and occasionally I will venture into a city with huge racial borders, where its unsafe to visit after certain hours. I haven't found it here. I cant imagine living in a community where there is one hue or one spice. I love the big trees, Temple Coffee House, the Alhambra Safeway, Zelda's Pizza, Bicyclist in Midtown, The Mother Lode Saloon, Crest Theater, and the Rivers. I could go on and I might. Sacramento is home.

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