LGBT Adoption Week returns 5-11 March 2018. To mark this important week, we spoke to two of our LGBT families about their experience of adoption.
The LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community have been adopting for many years as individuals. In 2005, a change in the law allowed same-sex couples to adopt jointly in England and Wales. Now, nearly one in ten adoptions in England are to same sex-couples.
Dave and Gareth adopted their son through Family Care in 2016 and Jayne has recently been approved as a single adopter. She’s hoping to be matched with a child very soon.
How did you arrive at the decision to adopt?
Jayne: I’ve always wanted to be a mum but, being a gay female, I thought it would be impossible. Some of my gay female friends have had IVF, but I didn’t want to go down that route. I was passionate about providing a warm, loving home to a child who needed a family and to support them into adulthood.
Dave: We both wanted to become a family, which was greatly influenced by the love we have for our niece and nephew. At the start, only one of us was really serious about adopting, but then we naturally reached the decision together. It just felt right.
How was the adoption process for you?
Jayne: I was made to feel very welcome right from the start. The process is intrusive at times, because they need to know everything about you, but I understand why and I’ve learnt a lot about myself. It’s also brought mum and I even closer, as we reflected on things that happened in the past. When I first came out as gay, I thought she didn’t approve, but in actual fact she did!
Dave: The process for us was great – it was clear, consistent and even enjoyable. We look back on it now and laugh to ourselves, discussing memorable or funny moments. Our social worker was great ─ she was the glue that held everything together and we felt like a team on a journey. We were always well supported and we felt well prepared at the end of it.
Once our son came home, Family Care continued to provide great support, especially in those early days. They were like an extended family!
“I’ve learnt a lot about myself and it’s brought mum and I even closer.”
Are there any distinct qualities that you think LGBT people bring to parenting vulnerable children?
Jayne: I think many LGBT people experience challenges in their life. First of all dealing with feeling ‘different’ growing up and then coming out, which can be very scary. But it does make you stronger and enables you to empathise better with others, which is such an important part of being an adoptive parent.
Dave: I think that some LGBT people will have come across prejudice, or they may have been bullied. Many adopted children have that feeling of being different, but as an LGBT parent that’s something you can really relate to. Also, that acceptance of who you are and not what you are or where you come from is really important.
What’s the best thing about being an adoptive parent?
Dave: Doing the best you can and seeing that in your child’s eyes. To see them grow and learn, and know that you have done that together. To have fun as a family, and find yourself in predicaments you never expected!
What advice would you give LGBT people considering adoption?
Jayne: Be open and honest… and follow your dreams.
Dave: Come with an open mind. And don’t worry about what you have or haven’t got at home ─ it’s what you have inside you that counts. You can make the difference to a child’s life.
“Don’t worry about what you have or haven’t got. It’s what’s inside you that counts.”
The theme of this year’s LGBT adoption week is ‘10 good reasons to adopt’. What would be your number one reason?
Jayne: You have the chance to give a child a happy, loving life.
Dave: Because there are children out there who can change your life and in turn you can change theirs.
If you’re considering adoption, please come along to our LGBT adoption event on 11 April (or any of our information events – we hold them regularly) or download an information pack. One of our friendly and experienced social workers is available every weekday between 2pm and 5pm if you want to discuss any aspect of adoption. Just give us a call on 0115 960 3010. We’d love to hear from you!