WICHITA, Kan. (KSN) – The debate over same-sex couples as foster/adoptive parents in Kansas continues, as KSN News sat down with a Wichita couple speaking out about claims they were discriminated against by the Kansas Department for Children and Families because they are homosexual.
“We loved this child… We adored her. She was our daughter,” the couple said.
Lisa and Tesa Hines, a married same-sex couple, became foster-to-adopt parents for baby Izzy just five days after she was born in 2013.
“She just was a loved kid,” said Lisa Hines. “We just were hoping that she would be in our lives forever.”
Despite the fact that the Hineses say they had a bond with the baby, right before she turned 11 months old, in October 2014, DCF ruled against allowing the same-sex couple to adopt the baby and granted custody over to Jonathan and Allison Schumm.
The Schumm family had reportedly adopted some of Izzy’s half-siblings. The Hines say DCF told them they removed the baby from their custody in order to keep the family together.
But, because Izzy did not know her half siblings, Lisa and Tesa Hines say they don’t understand why custody was taken from them, especially because the Schumm home had more than a dozen children living there. These children were biological, adopted, and foster kids.
“To move her into a home with 14 other, at that time, there were 14 people in that home, I just knew as a person who teaches social work, and as a helping professional, I knew that that wasn’t the right environment for her,” said Lisa Hines.
“We are normal people, as well. We’re not criminals. We don’t want to do harm,” added Tesa Hines.
The Hineses say they were also concerned Izzy wouldn’t get enough attention at the Schumm home.
“The other children that the Schumms had already adopted, we encouraged them to visit and have a relationship with her, as well,” explained Lisa Hines. “We didn’t want to keep her isolated from her siblings, we just didn’t want her living in a home that was overcrowded.”
Baby Izzy has lived with the Schumm family in Topeka until November when the Topeka City Councilman and his wife were arrested surrounding allegations of child abuse.
Topeka councilman, wife, charged with abusing children
In response to the Hineses dealings with DCF, Wichita Representative Jim Ward, a Democrat, has called for a legislative post-audit into the state agency surrounding claims it promotes anti-gay discrimination in foster care and adoptions.
Rep. Ward says Kansas’ priorities are out of line.
“Why would you spend time talking about whether same-sex couples can love and nurture children when you have real problems to deal with?” said Ward.
When we reached out to DCF about the claims made by the Hines family, we received the following statement:
“Our agency has no policy regarding same-sex couples, and an audit would certainly demonstrate that to be true, and therefore be a waste of taxpayer dollars.”
— Secretary Phyllis Gilmore
Lisa and Tesa Hines are still licensed foster parents in the state of Kansas with four open beds in their home, but no foster children.
They do not know whether DCF will ask the couple to foster Izzy or any of her half-siblings now that they have been removed from the Schumms’ custody, but the Hines couple says they would be happy to take them into their care.
“I still feel like she’s my daughter. She’s been gone a year and nothing’s changed. I love her even more now,” said Lisa.