Thursday, 23 February 2012

Our journey to become same-sex foster carers

As LGBT Adoption & Fostering Week continues we hear from Renee who explains why she and her partner Jacqueline decided to become foster carers.

Jacqueline and I had been together 9 years and had recently taken a trip to Sri Lanka and saw the orphanages and the destruction brought on by the Tsunami. When we returned to the UK we talked about what we could do to make a difference to the lives of children. We wanted to do something worthwhile which would have a real impact. At the time Jacqueline was a Montessori teacher in a Private School and I was (and still am) working in a Law firm in Manchester, but had previously studied Paediatric Nursing. We had always talked about one day adopting a child, but Fostering was a new idea to us and so we research and interviewed various local Authorities and Fostering Agencies. The more we talked about it the more it seemed like the right thing to do!

We have now been fostering for 3 1/2 years for an Agency and we like the continuous training and support we get. During this time we have had 12 children from different cultural and religious backgrounds which have been challenging and rewarding in not always, equal measure!

We currently have two toddlers and had them for 2 years now. Most people get 9 months to prepare for having a baby, we had 2 hours to prepare for a baby a few weeks old and another 11 months older!!

We were pleased that despite being an "Out" and open couple we got on with the parents of these children, this always makes every ones life easier as you can work with the parents during the parenting assessment and they don't feel as isolated from the children. There has only been one parent who has asked for their children to be removed from our care because we were a same sex couple. Luckily we have an amazingly supportive Supervising Social Worker who along with the Local Authority who had placed the children with us, decided that the children were happy and settled and despite the "Religious justification" the parent was quoting, the children would remain with us.

Within a year of the babies arriving it was decided that the children would be placed on the Adoption Register - a new experience for us. Every other child/ren that have been placed with us, has always been returned home. We have been working closely with Adoption Social Workers trying to identify the traits and skills that we would want to see in these children's new adoptive parents. After many assessments and therapists, it has been identified that the elder of the children has moderate learning difficulties, global developmental delay and potentially sits on the Autistic spectrum. Due to this range of complex needs, prospective adoptive parents haven't been as forth coming as they might have been.

We are currently in a situation where these children may be separated as the younger child is being negatively impacted by the elder - the elder child causes anxiety and lashes out at their younger sibling - its such a difficult situation. As we are working as part of a multi-disciplinary team, we want to ensure the best outcomes for each child individually as well as together.

Many people say "I don't know how you do it, arent you good" but we dont do this for the praise and good opinion of others, yes we do feel like we are doing a worthwhile thing, yes, its heartbreaking when children leave you, yes it tough at times and you are part of making difficult decisions, but we feel fortunate to have known so many amazing children. Each child has taught us something and has made us a better person in some way.Whatever happens with the children we have now, we will always work in the best interest of every child we have in our care and I see many years of Fostering ahead of us and  I would like to see "Fostering" as a recognised profession!

For more info about LGBT adoption and fostering, please visiti the main BAAF website. To read more personal accounts from LGBT adopters and foster carers, please visit BAAF's online bookstore.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Renee and Jacqueline,

Loved your blog! Myself and fiance are at the beginning stage of researching about fostering, could you please advise what avenues you both took, to obtain as much information to support you decision.

Ideally would love to hear from other foster parents, who can highlight all the different aspects of fostering.

Myself & Paul both live in Manchester, would truly appreciate any guidance/adive/ tips.

Look forward to hearing from you,

Kind regards
Nicky & Paul

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