GSBA Vision & Mission

MISSION: To combine business development, leadership and social action to expand economic opportunities for the LGBT Community and those who support equality for all.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Families Like Ours Celebrates Thirteen Years

October 15, 2012

Families Like Ours Celebrates Thirteen Years of Pre & Post Adoption
Support for LGBT Families
An Adoption that Started a National Non-Profit recognized on CNN Heroes this year.

Seattle - In October of 1999 Conrad and David Wing-Kovarik hosted a small get together of families thinking of adopting. It was a mix of pre-adoptive couples in a State that didn’t have a stellar reputation for adoption support when it came to LGBT families.

With a phone call that fall they began a new journey.

“It is amazing how far we have come, more than I could have ever imagined in our living room back in 1999” David Wing-Kovarik reminiscence’s about the growth of his family and the founding of Families Like Ours (FLO) over 13-years ago.

“I can laugh now about the call, but back then it wasn’t a laughing matter,” continues Wing-Kovarik. “To be honest we didn’t think of ourselves any more different than anyone else until we entered the adoption world. Wow then it hit, yes you are different at least in the eyes of the world once you mention children.”

In the initial months of starting an adoption process FLO began to take shape even though Wing-Kovarik himself will admit he didn’t realize he was forming what has today become a national organization. In October 2000 David and Conrad founded the non-profit organization Families Like Ours.  This occurred just after 12-months of starting their journey to adopt as a same sex couple.  The focus; become a resource and support program for gay and lesbian pre and post adoptive families.

Today FLO serves all types of families and youth as a national resource for adoptive family support, education and advocacy. Their mission is simple, overcome barriers for all families wishing to adopt regardless of family structure. They act as an independent advocate for youth and families ensuring that all parties have the right to their individuality and a permanent family.

It is hard to miss the work that FLO does for families and at-risk foster youth. “I would say the two big recognitions of what FLO has become came with the CNN Hero recognition this year, and the invitation to speak at the White House Briefing and Conversation on Supporting Adoption in November 2011.”

Each year FLO provides over 500 hours of educational programing, direct child specific family recruitment, community outreach, and family and youth advocacy and direct therapeutic and peer support services to hundreds of families, with thousands more utilizing their growing online resources. Nearly 80 percent of families that attend their adoption-foster care trainings move forward and become adoptive and foster parents; resulting in more homes for kids in foster care.

“If you would have told me 13 years ago that this is where this little nonprofit would be today I would have laughed and just walked away.” David reflected.  “It is hard work, long hours and all too often a seven day a week job, but we are making a difference.”

What is most amazing is how FLO is funded; they do not receive any federal or state funding for any of the work. Until recently they have been 100 percent volunteer driven and still hold true to their families-helping-families principal. It is that key peer support that makes them who they are, families and social service professionals alike recognize that they are talking from real life experience.

Wing-Kovarik believes what makes his organization what it is today is the personal stories and the inclusion of all types of families. FLO really is a focused team of professionals and family mentors with one goal in mind -- adoptive family and youth support.

“We are real people, real families and real kids. It’s wonderful that my family and all the families involved with FLO can share our journeys.  We continue to learn from our experiences and constantly evolve to make it easier each time for more families to become a reality. What started 13-years ago in our living room has truly become a life-line for families throughout the country making a difference in children’s lives.” David Wing-Kovarik, Executive Director Families Like Ours and a dad to two wonderful boys.

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