Family Matters: Fostering plea to lesbian, gay and other minorities

Barnsley foster carers Paul and Michael
Barnsley foster carers Paul and Michael
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With a desperate shortage of adopters and foster carers across the UK, leading charities believe the shortfall could be met if just 2% of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people choose to adopt or foster.

Paul and Michael have been foster carers for Barnsley Council for over four years, offering short-term, emergency and respite placements to babies and toddlers who require foster care.

Speaking after LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week, Michael advised: “What we would say is don’t rule it out. Often people put obstacles in the way where there aren’t any.”

“We have people ask us all the time about whether certain circumstances would stop them from fostering,” added Paul, “and often they are worried they’d be rejected on the grounds of being single, in a same-sex relationship, not owning their own home for example, but it’s simply not the case.

Michael said: “People also don’t always realise that there are lots of types of fostering they can do. Yes, you could take on the full-time commitment of longer-term placements. Alternatively, you can opt for short-term placements or offer respite and day care if you wanted to consider fostering but on a part-time basis”.

“It’s not like having your own children, there is a team around you and the child. It is important not to be judgemental about the circumstances of them coming into care and you have to be willing to work in partnership with everyone, including the birth family.

“It’s so rewarding though, seeing a child develop with you and eventually move on to their forever home. It can be hard to let go, we treat all the children like our own family and you do become attached. However, we keep in touch and it’s great to see how they are getting on,” he said.

LGBT Adoption & Fostering Week is organised by New Family Social, a social network run by LGBT adopters and foster carers for families and families-to-be.

Director Tor Docherty said: “While more and more LGBT people are choosing to adopt or foster, many are still put off by fears that they won’t be welcomed by agencies, or that they might not be able to offer what children need.

“Things have moved on in the last five years within adoption and fostering and our large community of families across the UK is incredibly welcoming and supportive. It’s clear to see how well our children are doing and what a positive and rewarding choice it can be for parents.”

Barnsley Council is holding a fostering information evening on April 9 at 6.30pm at Barnsley Town Hall and one for adoption on April 15 at 6pm ain the same venue. Details of this and other events are on the Facebook page www.facebook.com/FosterAdoptBarnsley. Alternatively, call fostering on 01226 775876 or adoption on 01226 775875.