Britain has certainly moved forward over the last few years, accepting that our families have amazingly loving homes and have the same ability to provide support to children as heterosexually coupled families.
The country’s first ever National LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week kicked off this past week highlighting powerful stories of adoption and foster families as well as the localities and organizations that are on the forefront of helping all children find homes that are loving. This is at a time when gay adopters and foster parents are being viewed in a different light, not only by those empowered to place the children, such as social workers and commissioners but also by the public who are beginning to see the reality of excluding loving homes, even those parented by gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender couples.
In recent surveys that were done at the behest of New Family Social there was a great amount of support and recognition for the strengths of LGBT couples.
In a recent press release by the organizers of LGBT AF Week they point out that “at a time when adoption figures are at a 10 year low, a new study shows lesbian and gay people often have the right mix of skills and experience to raise children who have been in care, and give them a great new start in life.”
72% of social workers surveyed saw the “amount of energy and enthusiasm” LGBT adopters bring to the process as a significant strength.
76% saw “openness to difference, and supporting a child with a sense of difference” as equally important.
For a long time, LGBT people tended to be seen as a “last resort” when placing children. Now adoption and fostering agencies see them as having a key role to play in meeting the urgent need for more new homes for children in care.
Considering itself as a campaign that is working to recruit LGBT couples that perhaps in the past have been denied or turned away or those who have recently become able to foster or adopt children, the LGBT AF Week is working hard with events that are making all sides of the issues facing displaced children.
Hugh Thornbery, Strategic Director of Children’s Services at Action for Children, says
“Over the years, our LGBT foster carers and adopters have helped to transform many
children’s lives. We welcome more applications from LGBT foster carers and adopters; the
main thing is that you are able to give children and young people the care and support
they need to be happy and fulfilled.”
Andy Leary-May, Director of New Family Social, says: “More and more LGBT people are
choosing adoption and fostering as a way to form a family, and we want prospective
parents to see just how rewarding it can be, and how much advice and support is on offer
from our huge community of families around the UK. The fact that so many agencies want to recruit from the LGBT community show just how far things have come in the past 5 or 6 years. Social workers are becoming more aware of our strengths, and we are being treated more fairly, and are being matched with children more quickly”.
It is a great joy that many are becoming involved in the process of supporting the public system that cares for children. On their website they highlight stories of successful couples such as Lee and Stuart. Both came to the decision after much reflection and thought and approached it as being able to become a foster home that would be able to help as many children as possible giving them the ability to experience a happy and safe home, even if it was for a brief period of time.
One of the greatest trends is that it isn’t just larger centers that are opening up their adoption policies and becoming progressive. Suffolk County in England, with a total population for the whole county of just under 750,000, has moved towards LGBT supportive adoption.
Suffolk County Council’s fostering and adoption services believe the LGBT community is a huge, untapped resource of potential adopters and foster carers.
In a local article published this past week, Graham Newman, the council’s portfolio holder for children, schools and young people’s services, said: “It’s important that Suffolk County Council recruits adopters and foster carers from all walks of life to provide much-needed homes for Suffolk’s vulnerable children. We’re supporting this year’s campaign in an effort to encourage more people from the LGBT community to come forward and consider this life-changing opportunity. Over the last few years, Suffolk’s adoption agency has approved and successfully placed children with gay and lesbian adopters, and we hope this year’s campaign will encourage more people to come forward.”
At a time when there are growing divides in the United States as well as Canada between right wing religious groups and the LGBT and socially progressive communities, it is great to see that there are agencies who are working towards what is right and not the best talking point.
Perhaps someone would like to inform NOM, the National Organization For Marriage, and Maggie Gallagher that the world isn’t collapsing and children are being loved and cared for … yes, by LGBT couples.
Growing up in Northern Ontario as a Jehovah’s Witness, Michael Talon experienced firsthand the struggle for equality. Now living in the U.S. he works with advocates for federal equality, including immigration. Michael currentlty owns and operates OnRecord Media, which works with LGBT supportive companies and organizations helping to create an economy and political atmosphere that focuses on inclusive policies and employment.
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