LGBT in Gloucestershire? You could make a real difference and parent a local child
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are being urged to consider adoption and fostering during the seventh national LGBT Adoption & Fostering Week, which runs from 5th to 11th March.
More LGBT adopters and foster carers are needed to provide loving, stable homes for children in Gloucestershire, particularly for those over four years old and sibling groups. Only one in 10 adoptions in England in 2017 were to same-sex couples, but over 70,000 children are in care.
Now in its seventh year, LGBT Adoption & Fostering Week is organised by New Family Social, a charity that supports LGBT adopters and foster carers across the UK.
Tor Docherty, chief executive at New Family Social, said: “Record numbers of LGBT people now adopt or foster. Despite this, YouGov polling shows many believe they’ll be discriminated against by agencies, with eight in ten lesbian, gay and bisexual people expecting to face barriers if they apply to become foster parents.
“We’re delighted that Gloucestershire County Council is supporting the week and trying to encourage more LGBT people to explore adoption or foster caring.”
Nick G and Nick W from Gloucester are a same-sex couple in their forties who have been together for eight years. They have been fostering primary school aged children for Gloucestershire County Council since 2016. They said: “People shouldn’t be under the illusion that it will be more difficult for same sex couples to successfully become foster carers.
“This was the illusion we were under when we initially applied, but we went ahead and were delighted to realise that this would have no bearing on our application. We have been encouraged as a same sex couple throughout the application process leading up to becoming foster carers and beyond.”
Cllr Richard Boyles, cabinet member for children and young people at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “We know from experience that LGBT people often come to adoption and fostering with an open mind and real enthusiasm – it’s often their first choice for growing their family. Many children waiting to be adopted or fostered have had a very chaotic start to life, and we’ve seen them thrive with their new parents.
“You can be single, over 40 and you don’t need to own your own home to consider foster caring or adoption. We need people with stability, love and resourcefulness who can who can help a child with whatever needs they may have.”
You can find more information on fostering and adoption at www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/fostering.
Nick and Nick Case Study:
Nick G and Nick W from Gloucester are a same-sex couple in their forties who have been together for eight years. They have been fostering primary school-aged children for Gloucestershire County Council since 2016.
What encouraged you to foster?
Nick G: I was lucky enough to have a wonderful childhood with two loving parents. That sense of stability has stayed with me and makes me want to provide the same opportunity for a child who needs it.
Nick W: Early in my own life I experienced upheaval and uncertainty when I moved to a new home with a new stepfather. This made me acutely aware of the anxieties a child can experience during times of change. Ultimately, fostering for me is about providing a safe, secure and encouraging environment where a child can relax, openly discuss how they feel and air their fears.
You don’t have your own birth children. What experience did you have with children before you started fostering?
Nick G: I looked after my niece when she was young, taking her out to child-friendly places. I also helped look after a previous partner’s step brother and sister.
Nick W: I enjoyed organising outings and creative activities for my nieces and nephews when they were young. My mother also ran a playgroup and I would sometimes appear as Father Christmas.
What qualities do you think you bring to fostering?
Nick G: The qualities I bring to fostering are stability, security, understanding and encouragement.
Nick W: As a youngster in a family who fostered, I witnessed the emotional stress that children who come into care experience. I also had first hand experience of being in a situation where I lost my safe surroundings and was faced with completely new circumstances. So I can empathise with the children.
What have you learned from the placements you’ve had so far?
We’re learning that every child we care for is unique and comes complete with their own set of circumstances and reasons for requiring care. We’ve also learned that patience and perseverance are the key to rewards in both our ongoing care ability, and also in the development of the young person in our care. In addition, a good sense of humour as well as common sense is useful and often required. Finally, it’s tiring, not just physically with the plans and schedules that are required within any family environment but emotionally tiring too. Support is key.
What have you enjoyed most about fostering?
Being involved in foster caring is just so rewarding and to be able to give something back is hugely satisfying. Taking an active and positive role in young people’s lives can be challenging but to witness that moment on a child’s face when they realise their true potential can be whatever they choose is truly breath-taking.
What advice do you have for other same-sex couples considering fostering?
Don’t be under the illusion that it would be more difficult for same sex couples to successfully become foster carers. This was the illusion we were under when we initially applied, but we went ahead and were delighted to realise that this would have no bearing on our application. Don’t be put off over thinking what a child may make of your relationship. We’ve looked after both boys and girls with ages ranging from 8 to 14, and we’ve never had any issues regarding this. The same can be said for their biological families too. Take advantage of the support given to assist your application, and following your approval. The advice we received from the application team taking us up to panel, other foster carers, including same sex carers (who subsequently became our mentors providing us with tried and tested advice) was also pivotal and second to none.
How well do you feel GCC has supported you as a same-sex couple?
Through personnel and the structure in place, the support has been both thorough and robust. We have been encouraged as a same sex couple throughout the application process leading up to becoming foster carers and beyond. Where we may have harboured pre-conceived ideas regarding potential implications as a same sex partnership, GCC have dispelled them and advised us in methods of due diligence, including safeguarding and thorough course training.