Salt Lake City -- (KUTV) Matthew and Ryan Burton are one of about 30 LGBTQ foster families in Utah.
On Wednesday night at the public library in Salt Lake’s Marmalade neighborhood, they answered questions and told their story for other LGBTQ couples who are interested some of the 2,800 foster children currently in state custody.
“it’s a lot to take in but it’s really worth it,” Matthew Burton said.
The couple first fostered, then adopted, their sons, now 16 and 17. The 16 year-old’s adoptions is nearly final.
“They are really fulfilling a life-long dream for me of being able to get married and have kids and be a father,” said Matthew Burton.
He grew up in a religious home and as a gay man, didn’t think that having a family would be a reality for him – until he became a foster parent.
Daniel Webster, Foster Adoptive Consultant for Utah Foster Care, which recruits and trains foster parents in Utah, said the state does not discriminate against LGBTQ couples.
“Every family is needed right now. We need families as diverse as our children,” he said.
Webster called the need for foster parents “dire.”
While there are 2,800 kids in state custody, there are only 1,300 foster parents.
The rampant addiction to opioids in the state has left many parents unable to care for their children – that’s one big reason for the spike in children who are removed from their homes and placed in state care.
Matthew Burton said there are some members in the community who make rude or hurtful comments about his family but that doesn’t matter as much as the fact that his boys are happy after having so many trials in their young lives.
“They just want someone to love them,” he said.
Couples can foster if they are legally married. Single people can foster if they are not co-habitating. For more information about qualifications go to UtahFosterCare.org.