Alternative Family Matters was founded in 1997 by social worker, community activist, visionary, and lesbian mother, Jenifer Firestone.
After seven years coordinating the Alternative Insemination (AI) Program at Boston’s Fenway Community Health Center, Firestone recognized that while LGBT people had made significant strides in becoming parents, very little community programming existed to help children of gay parents feel proud, valued, safe, and confident about their families in their daily lives. In addition, few resources provide LGBT parents and prospective parents with the models and support needed to create and maintain co-parenting relationships that can weather the profound challenges of family life in a homophobic culture.
AFM incorporated as a non-profit in October 2003 and is New England’s only agency passionately committed to the unique needs and healthy development of LGBT-headed families.
Even after 15 years, AFM believes that we’ve only scratched the surface of what is programmatically possible and essential to promote the healthy evolution of LGBT families.
Jenifer Firestone, LCSW is the founder and director of Alternative Family Matters. For seven years Firestone coordinated the Alternative Insemination Program at Fenway Community Health Center. Having been involved in the adoption or conception of over 1000 children to LGBT’s, she is passionate about the necessity of creating and maintaining networks and activities that provide queer community to children of LGBT parents. The lesbian mother of a 12 year old daughter whom she co-parents with 2 gay men, Firestone created Alternative Family Matter’s Conception Connection Registry and Counseling Service which specializes in facilitating parenting arrangements between otherwise unrelated men and women who want to have children together.
As a licensed social worker Firestone runs 9-week information and discussion groups for LGBT’s considering parenting, for lesbian mothers coming out of heterosexual marriages, for partners of lesbian mothers, for single lesbians, and organizes discussion and activity groups for children of LGBT parents. She has conducted home-studies for local adoption agencies, screens and counsels surrogate mothers, and conducts short-term staff training about LGBT family issues for mainstream health and human service providers.Bruno Bett
In 2001 Firestone launched the nation’s first queer version of the mainstream Big Brothers/Big Sisters, called, The LGBT Aunts and Uncles Program. The program matched LGBT and allied adults who are interested in but do not have children of their own, with children of LGBT parents who are seeking to extend their network of support. She is looking forward to gearing up The Lesbian Custody Dispute Prevention Project to study the emotional and logistical evolution of divorced lesbian couples’ antagonistic or amicable child custody outcomes and develop working models for planning and maintaining cooperative co-parenting relationships in the wake of divorce. One of these models is The Family Council, a creative problem-solving body of friends, family members, and/or professionals who help prevent and resolve family disputes between same-sex couples and between lesbians and gay men who have children together.
Firestone's essay, “The Sate of the State: Queer Parenting at the Millennium” appeared in the book Homefronts: Controversies in Alternative Parenting (Alyson Publications, 2000) and published numerous articles about LGBT families in “In the Family Magazine”. She collaborated with the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders in developing, Protecting Families: Standards for Child Custody in Same Sex Relationships, and presented the Standards as an expert witness in a New York custody trial.
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