By Dan Montgomery

Two messages were clear in Richmond last night: LGBTQ foster and adoptive parents are needed in Virginia; and LGBTQ youth in foster care need is — the same love, compassion, and patience every other foster child needs, with just a little extra awareness and sensitivity.

The event was Foster Equality, hosted by Lutheran Family Services of Virginia with the support of Diversity Richmond, held at the 1717 Innovation Center, a beautifully renovated warehouse in Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom district.

Desiree and Sara Sterling told about the bureaucratic foot-dragging they encountered when they first tried to become foster parents. They were able to move ahead by politely and firmly clarifying the law and their rights, and they received their certification. They currently have three foster children and two adopted children in their Newport News home.

Desiree and Sara Starling describe their experience as foster and adoptive parents

“We must be doing a good job, because they keep bringing us kids,” said Desiree Starling.

Mya Rowe, an 18-year-old former foster child who identifies as bi-sexual, says she didn’t feel like the kind of child foster parents would be drawn to.

Mya Rowe answers a question about growing up in foster care.

“I was not cute and cuddly,” she said. “I was like a porcupine.”

While not every placement was perfect, Rowe now appreciates the contributions every foster family made to help her get to where she is today: Independent, in school and excited about her future.

The Foster Equality event was made possible by Diversity Richmond. Food (and it was tasty) was catered by Butler’s Catering and donated by BJ’s, Publix, Target, Whole foods and Food Lion. Signage was donated by Acorn Signs.