Couple encourage more LGBT+ members to foster

A Brighton couple are sharing their story to encourage more members of the LBGT+ community to consider becoming a foster parent.

Wednesday, 24th February 2021, 12:22 pm

According to the New Family Social, same-sex couples now account for 1 in 7 adoptions in England, however, there is unfortunately still a lingering expectation of discrimination among the LGBT+ community when it comes to fostering.

YouGov has shown that 8 in 10 lesbian, gay and bisexual people expect to encounter barriers to become foster carers because of their sexual orientation.

One couple who are breaking down the barriers surrounding LGBT+ fostering is Andy, 53, and Ran, 47, who have recently welcomed their first child into their home.

LGBTQ+ flag Picture: Unsplash

The couple, who have always had a desire to foster children, were approved as foster parents in November 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic meant that their initial meetings with the child they were about to care for were all virtual, as Andy reveals; “Welcoming Jessica* came with its challenges due to the pandemic, but we didn’t let that stop us and continued with the process, thanks to the fantastic ongoing support we received from ISP.”

He added: “The process took around six months, and during that time we received group and one to one training, which we found extremely enjoyable. Normally, we would meet Jessica* face-to-face, take some time out to enjoy day trips together. However, due to coronavirus we weren’t able to visit initially, so we introduced ourselves virtually via numerous video calls.”

The pandemic has made fostering difficult for all parties involved, but Andy explains how the couple have made it a success: “Jessica was amazingly confident, she sang for us and was very grown up, telling us what she liked and what she didn’t like. We spoke about our family and her family and really got a feel for each other during the video calls.”

He continues; “We produced a welcome book for Jessica, including photos of ourselves and our pets, and gave her a virtual tour around the house. It gave her a chance to familiarise herself with her new surroundings, so it wouldn’t be so daunting for her when she arrived. Once lockdown restrictions eased, we arranged to meet Jessica face-to-face, while socially distancing. After this meeting, the process had been finalised and we ended up picking her up the following Thursday!”

Andy and Ran

Ran, whilst discussing home-schooling during the pandemic, also revealed; “It was quite challenging welcoming our first child into our home during a lockdown. Home schooling was completely new to us and Jessica didn’t take to it straight away, so we tried to make it a bit more fun for her. However, being at home more meant that we had a lot more time to give Jessica that attention and interaction that she needed. It has also meant that we’ve been able to do fun things together as a family, such as having water fights in the garden and playing lots of games that she enjoys.”

He continues; “Once lockdown restrictions eased, we introduced Jessica to another carer and their child, so she had someone her own age to talk to. We also wanted her to have a female influence in her life. We’re fully aware that while having two men looking after a young girl, she still needs that girly time. We have also made it clear that she can talk to us about anything and have set up a great network with her.”

For many, that initial process can seem daunting as there is a lot of information to process, however, there is plenty of support available, as Ran explains; “We feel that we’ve done as much as we can to really integrate Jessica into the family. We’ve had the ultimate support from ISP and feel that everything has fallen into place. It feels like Jessica was meant to join our family. It’s important to ISP and has been highlighted throughout the process that we’re matched perfectly with a child. The support we’ve received throughout the whole journey has been phenomenal and we couldn’t wish for a better agency to join. Not only do ISP support the child, but they support us as a couple as well.”

If potential applicants wish to learn more, ISP are encouraging individuals to join their weekly Thursday evening sessions where they will be able to learn more about fostering as a whole and ask any questions. To register interest, follow the link here – www.ispfostering.org.uk/resources/eventsFor more information about becoming a foster parent, visit www.ispfostering.org.uk or call the friendly team on 0800 0857989.