When Jay met his foster parents, he was a balding, underweight boy who was afraid he wouldn’t be fed.
The first-grader, an example of the more than 6,000 children who end up in the custody of the Alabama Department of Human Resources, has a condition known as Reactive Attachment Disorder, which causes him to lash out when he makes an emotional attachment. No foster placement lasted six months – until he met Chelsey and Bailey Glassco.
The lesbian couple works with Jay every day on boundaries and trust to address his condition. He also sees a therapist. The couple, teachers who became foster parents in their 20s, is hopeful they will be able to adopt Jay.
But in a state where there are more children than homes, the law known as HB 24 could prevent qualified same-sex couples from adopting, Katherine Webb-Hehn writes for Scalawag. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed HB 24 into law last May, making it legal for private adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples by citing the agency's religious beliefs.
"This law is a protection for the majority, for a group who doesn't need protection," Bailey says of HB 24, an example of the many "religious freedom" laws being introduced in legislatures across the country.
Despite both being in their late 20s, the couple has had a myriad of life experiences: homeless in college; estranged from families that cut them off when they made their relationship public; and fired by a school board member who didn't want LGBT teachers on staff, they've encountered their share of anti-LGBT discrimination.
"That's our numerical age," Bailey says, "but we say it's about the mileage."
The experiences appear to have helped them be supportive, nurturing foster parents. Their first foster child was a teen in high school. By the time she moved out of their home, she was an 18-year-old with her own apartment and had navigated the transition to adulthood with the couple's help.
"We have a soft spot for that age, because we were so vulnerable during that time," Chelsey says.
After spending time at the Glassco home, Webb-Hehn came to an obvious conclusion:
The cicadas start their nightly hum as the Glasscos tell the social worker about their renovation plans, where the vegetable garden will go next spring, how they'd met most of the neighbors already. I wonder how people could see this — the Glassco home — as dangerous.
P.S. Here are some other pieces we think are valuable this week:
- From wary observer to justice warrior: How Heather Heyer's death gave her mom a voice by Ellie Silverman for The Washington Post
- Five decades of white backlash by Vann R. Newkirk II for The Atlantic
- When walking while trans is a crime by Emma Whitford for The Cut
- In South Texas, tens of thousands live in border enclaves without water, power or certainty of their future by Maria Sacchetti for The Washington Post