As a gay man, becoming a foster carer seemed impossible to me eight years ago. Despite being in a long-term relationship, there was still a sense that if you were gay, certain options weren’t open to you, particularly having a family life and raising children. This is no longer the case, and from the beginning the many social workers, teachers and healthcare professionals we’ve worked with have been positive and accepting.
When my partner and I discovered that we were eligible to apply to become foster carers, we almost couldn’t believe it. We saw an advert for LGBT foster carers and, after making our first phone call, were visited by two social workers who talked us through what would be involved and what to expect from the process. I remember feeling very nervous before they arrived but the social workers immediately made us feel at ease. They were with us for two hours and in that time they answered all our questions and made us realise that it was perfectly acceptable for two men to foster children. That reassurance meant a lot to us, and made us more confident and determined to become foster carers.
After that initial visit, we were ready to take the next steps. Family and friends were surprised at our decision, but they all supported us completely. We went on an introduction to fostering course run by our local authority that was encouraging and informative. It really opened our eyes to what fostering would be like. Although some of the sessions were tough and draining, it was great to spend time with professionals and other trainee foster carers, asking questions and getting to grips with the demands of the job. Learning from professionals has been invaluable; it gave us the tools to deal with the kinds of difficult situations we didn’t have any previous experience of.
The assessment process was very intense, but we were assigned a supervising social worker who saw us through every step of the journey. It was very involved and delved into every aspect of our life, which could feel very intrusive although we understood why it needed to be done. I never felt at any stage that questions were biased because of our sexuality, and we felt supported all the way, right up to that nerve-racking moment when we went before the panel to be approved. It was scary because all the months of hard work fell to this one yes-or-no moment, but everyone was so nice and genuine that we were actually able to relax and almost enjoy the process. It was a fantastic day and I can still remember that moment we were approved. We were on such a high and just waiting for our first placement.
We have been fostering for seven years now and looked after eight children, and we have not looked back once. Our lives have changed completely. I’m now a full-time foster parent and my partner works part-time in a nursery. Having a foster family has exceeded our expectations, and the fulfilment that we get from seeing children grow and thrive in our care is incredible. There are still tough moments, but we continue to train and learn, and take advantage of all the courses that are offered to us by our local authority.
Becoming a foster carer is a huge commitment, but it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. We still sit waiting for the phone to ring and our next adventure to begin.
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