OLDHAM Fostering Service is proud to be supporting LGBT+ Adoption and Fostering Week that takes place between 2-8 March 2020. The week is organised by New Family Social, a UK charity that supports LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) adopters and foster carers.
Across the UK there is a real need for more adopters and foster carers to look after children and young people, and it is thought that this shortfall could be met if just 2% of LGBT people choose to adopt or foster.
The week is focusing on Why not you? Busting adoption and fostering myths believed by LGBT+ people that wrongly prevent them from exploring becoming adopters or foster carers.
Councillor Amanda Chadderton, Oldham Council Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “We are proud to be supporting this year’s LGBT+ Adoption and Fostering Week. We know from experience that LGBT+ people have so much to give our children and young people, and often come to adoption or fostering with real enthusiasm, an open mind and lots of resilience.
“There are still many myths out there, including LGBT+ people cannot foster or adopt, or that we don’t accept enquiries from LGBT+ people who are single or over 40. These are simply untrue and if you are thinking of fostering or adoption, we would love to hear from you’.
Sean and Steven have been fostering for Oldham since July 2019. They care for an eight-year-old boy with complex needs.
Sean and Steven said: “There are multiple reasons why we chose to foster, all of equal importance. We both have grown up kids and have positive relationships with them. Sean has two grandchildren too and he really dotes on them. However they all live far away from us now and we don’t get to see them as often as we would like. In truth I think we kind of miss the whole ‘having a young person around’ thing, yes it can be hard work at times like most children, but it is also so much fun.’
‘We believe that there is or should be a moral obligation to help children who through no fault of their own find themselves in care. Children need security, a place to feel safe where they can be nurtured and loved to reach their potential and give them the best chance in life. Steve, having lived in care himself, both in a care home and in foster care, had good experiences and feels he would like to give something back.
“Research suggests some LGBT+ people might be put off applying to foster, expecting to face barriers along the way. We don’t think this is the case and are surprised by this. We both felt there would be more issues within society and communities with regards to the perception of same sex parenting. However so far that hasn’t been the case. Our friends and family have been very supportive and encouraging throughout the whole process.
“The assessment process is quite intrusive for all applicants, but we understand the need for this. The question of sexuality during the assessment came up briefly, but more around how we would handle questions and people’s attitudes towards us being gay foster carers. Our thoughts are that if we are good carers it shouldn’t matter what persuasion somebody is.’
“In terms of parenting skills, we have pretty much the same skill set of any other carers. However, growing up through the 1980’s and facing discrimination has taught us to stand up for our right to be different and that it is ok to be different. Our experiences will help us support children who do not conform to the norm and help them to feel comfortable in their own skin and not allow bullies to change them due to their own ignorance.
‘The best thing about fostering is seeing the progress your foster child makes. We have noticed a huge change in our child, and we like to think us giving him a secure home has helped. School is a much happier place for him, and he is doing well with his school work. He has settled so well as part of our family. There is a lot of fun and laughter in our house and although it’s hard work at times we do really love it.’
“There have been challenges along the way. Sometimes simple tasks that we all take for granted can be hard for him and we have had to use different approaches to help him. We must remember some children haven’t had those early years building blocks and it isn’t their fault they haven’t been taught or supported to do things for themselves. It is also quite sad to realise that because a child has lost so much in their past that they struggle to form attachments and move on quickly when they lose things. It’s their own little coping mechanism and it is very sad.
“If you are LGBT+ and thinking about fostering, we would just say go for it! The process is quite lengthy, but at any point you can say it’s not for me. No pressure is applied. Just contact Oldham and take it from there. The training before your assessment is really good and gives you an insight into fostering. You hear from existing foster carers who give a real insight into what you can expect both positive and negative. Not everyone on our course ended up fostering, so if we can give one word of advice its simply to make that initial enquiry, it doesn’t mean you are locked into it. Do it now and have no regrets.”
Oldham foster carers receive lots of support, including free membership to New Family Social, plus a competitive financial package and tailored training to help you meet the needs of your child or young person.