Same-sex foster parents share their story in bid to encourage fostering in Doncaster
Three years after being approved as foster carer's, married couple Carl and Wayne Hodgkinson-ShearingÂ from Doncaster, are sharing their story in hopes it will get more same sex couples into fostering.
Since 2015 the couple have worked alongside Doncaster Children's Services Trust, and have fostered three children so far.
They are both currently enjoying family life, looking after an 11-year-old boy who they will care for until he turns 18.
Carl and Wayne knew they wanted to become fathers, and after looking into surrogacy and adoption the decision was made that fostering was the right path for them.
Carl said: "We were watching TV one night and saw a programme which said something like 15,000 children in the UK were in need of a foster home.
"It made us think, we were in the position to foster but we went away and weighed up the pros and cons. We then decided that fostering was right for us.
"We knew we could provide a nurturing, loving and stable home for a child and give them a good start in life."
It took 11-months for the couple to be approved as foster carers, something that Carl said was a bit longer than usual, but for the couple it was definitely worth the wait.
"When we first learned we were approved as foster carers we were really excited. It was the start of our fostering career. We felt excited, anxious and nervous all rolled into one," Carl added.
"It's like a roller coaster. You are always learning, we go on different training courses provided by the trust. You get hands on life experience, we hit the ground running but it's great."
"We always wanted to foster long term, we wanted to offer a child a home and welcome them in as part of our family."
"The majority of the foster kids are anxious at first, they don't know the boundaries. They have to get to know you first. but that works both ways. When you've got a child that's only met you a couple of times then they're living with you, you don't know how its going to go."
Working closely with the trust, Carl says they were very welcoming of the same sex couple, and are always on hand to give advice.
"Outsiders looking in all say I don't know how you can do it, and four years ago I would have asked the same thing. You've got to be that type of person, you have to have that caring and nurturing side to be able to become a foster carer.
"We've had three children, and they've all had different backgrounds so you have to learn to adapt. I would hope its going to be a permanent thing for the foreseeable future. I want to be doing it as long as I can."For now, the couple are looking forward to spending father's day together as a family, with hopefully many more to come.
Sue May, Head of Looked After Children’s Services at Doncaster Children’s Services Trust said: “We’re incredibly proud of all our foster carers. They are the cornerstone to our fostering services and the people who are able to make a real difference to children and young people’s lives in Doncaster.”
“We think it is really important that our foster carers come from all backgrounds. After all, what better way to support and nurture children and young people from a variety of backgrounds than by being from different backgrounds themselves.”
“People can make great carers regardless of marital status, sexuality, race or religion; the only requirements to being a foster carer are an enthusiastic and passionate attitude, being over 21 years old and having at least one spare bedroom.”
You can find out more about joining the fostering family at Doncaster Children's Services Trust by calling the local team on 0808 129 2600.