This year LGBT+ Adoption & Fostering week runs from 4-10 March 2019 and sees the return of the annual campaign which encourages more LGBT+ people to consider adoption & fostering and celebrates the success stories already out there! As a member agency of LGBT network New Family Social, The Children’s Family Trust will once again be taking part in this campaign and would love to hear from any members of the LGBT community who have any questions about fostering.
In celebration of the campaign, we caught up with CFT Foster Carer, Jake, to hear more about his experiences of being a trans carer with us and his experience of Fostering.
“Even as a child I had always wanted to adopt rather than have biological children. As I got older and came out as trans, having a non-biologically linked family made even more sense for me and my partner.
We knew that we could offer something meaningful to teenagers – as a youth worker and an assistant psychologist we felt we had a bit of useful knowledge and were up to taking on the challenges that such young people might present.
We first approached a fostering provider to become Foster Carers and it was a really negative experience. Everyone had been really excited to meet us and even more excited when we said we were specifically interested in fostering teenagers. But when we had a home visit and I talked about being trans, well, things quickly changed. There was a complete lack of knowledge or awareness about what being trans meant or what emotional intelligence that allowed us as a couple to bring to fostering. We are not your bog standard couple and that turned out to be a deal breaker.
After that we put fostering on the back burner for a year and then we attended a local Pride event and CFT were there. Their presence at the event gave us some hope and when we went and spoke to them they were so friendly. Having been burnt once I came out with it straight away this time and their reaction was perfect – they were far more interested in what we had to offer than my gender history. And then, once we got talking about CFT’s ethos we fell in love. For us it meant so much knowing that if a young person left us and no longer wanted a relationship they would still have CFT supporting them. It felt like a family – and that’s what it should all be about.
The assessment was intense. But our social worker was so kind that we looked forward to seeing her. We talked through everything – good and bad. It doesn’t leave much space for privacy. But, she really listened and it felt like she got us. And when she didn’t know the right language, or how to phrase things, she just asked us. It was so refreshing to not have someone just mumbling away trying to bluff their way through. And the rest of CFT has been the same – asking and working hard to get things right, rather than pretending they know everything.
We were approved in May last year and had expected to have some respite placements first, but in the end the perfect young person came through at the right time for us and so we are straight into a long-term placement. We could not be happier.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, there are hard days, as with any family, and there are battles we have been fighting for our young person too. But we can’t imagine life without him now and every single thing is worth it to see him smile and laugh.
There are not enough trans people fostering. And I know how much experience and resourcefulness the community has to offer. There are a whole load of LGBT kids in care, or kids who may grow up to be LGBT… We need some more carers out there who really get it.
You might think that your gender, sexuality, or your history might be a deal breaker, but our advice would be to keep looking until you find an agency that’s right for you and celebrates what you bring. Because those experiences don’t bar you from being a good carer, they give you valuable life experience which can help you guide and support your young person. It’s about time that, as a community, we stopped hiding our brilliance from the world and started being proud of what we can offer.” – Jake, CFT Foster Carer
We would like to thank Jake for sharing his story with us and for helping us support LGBT+ Adoption & Fostering Week. As Jake quite rightly stated there are many children from all walks of life currently in foster care and this means that we need carers from all walks of life to join us in looking after these young people. This includes members of the LGBT+ community.
We would like to encourage anyone who may be considering fostering to get in touch with us for a confidential chat with a member of our friendly team. We would be happy to answer any questions that you may have. You can do this by calling us on 0300 111 1945 or enquiring through our website.
Happy LGBT+ Adoption & Fostering Week everyone!