LGBT Fostering & Adoption Week 2018 aims to highlight the fantastic reasons behind why people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community make fantastic foster carers.
Many same-sex couples wrongly believe that their sexuality will prevent them from becoming foster parents but as these five facts show, it is about personal qualities and not sexuality that makes a positive difference to children.
#1 Increasingly common
There has been a welcome upsurge in the number of adoptions by same-sex couples. At the end of March 2017, there were 420 adoptions in England to parents in a same-sex relationship, marriage or civil partnership.
When it comes to foster placements, there are 9,000 more foster carers and families needed to help the thousands of children unable to live with their birth families. The LGBT Fostering and Adoption Week 2018 aims to increase the number of carers from the LGBT communities.
#2 It’s about YOU, not your sexuality
Fostering is about opening your home and your heart, as a former Children & Families Minister, Edward Timpson highlighted many years ago. He was fostered with over 80 fostered brothers and sisters and believes anyone who has the commitment, the energy and the patience to welcome foster children into their homes and lives should be assessed on their personal qualities, and not their sexuality.
The Adoption and Children Act 2002 removed the barriers for LGBT people to foster and adopt.
#3 It brings unexpected and welcome joy
Attitudes are changing but there are still people who think that being gay means not being parents. But with fostering a real option for everyone, there is nothing holding you back.
As yet, the statistics regarding the numbers of bi-sexual and transgender foster carers are sketchy, as are those for gay foster carers but slowly, there are more foster carers and adopted parents from all walks of life offering homes and families to children in the care system.
#4 Foster children are OK being looked after by same-sex couples or a gay carer
There is a growing body of academic research that highlight that for foster children (and those adopted by same-sex couples), the sexuality of their carer makes little, if any, difference.
In fact, children placed with same-sex couples are thriving. They learn to be more empathetic towards others but when it comes to changing attitudes, there is more to be done.
Overall, gay foster carers said that they understood their foster children could face extra challenges but in the main, they said they received excellent support from their fostering agency.
Children with same-sex parents commented as part of research that they ‘don’t mind their parents being gay’ but ‘wished other people would mind less’. Over time, with specific campaigns such as the annual LGBT Fostering & Adoption Week, attitudes will change to the point where hopefully prejudice will be minimised to a very small minority.
#5 Healthy family ties
The message is clear LGBT fostering IS working! LGBT foster carers are making a positive difference to the lives of children who need it. The care, attention, love and support and family ties between a foster child and their parent, whether they are gay, bisexual or transgender, is as strong as those within a heterosexual foster family.
Over three-quarters of social workers who were interviewed as part of academic studies into LGBT fostering and adoption, felt that the openness of carers and parents to ‘differences’ and their ability to empathise was a significant strength in helping children and young people to come to terms with their past and look to the future.
Do you have what it takes to offer a child a home? There is nothing as rewarding as being a foster carer!
There’s a fostering crisis in the UK. With so many children looking for a home, could you be the foster carer that makes a difference to a child’s life? Find out more with Foster care Associates.
Photo Credit: Anna Kolosyuk Kevin Gent Ben White