I was going to write about our experiences as gay men fostering and what challenges, etc. paved and continue to pave the way for us. However, there were none.
Carl and I went through the process quite happily with only one real niggle; how would the young people react to us as a gay couple? The answer to that is, they didn’t. Never, ever!
At the time we had our first child in placement, I was the Advanced Nurse Practitioner within a Forensic Community Team and was (and still am) a big advocate of routine, structure and boundaries; something the young people we care for don’t have. Throughout our 7 years and the longer-term children we have cared for, not one of our boys cared that we were gay men. They cared only that we made them feel safe, secure, valued and loved. This all came from our approach to their needs and the routines we gave them. Yes, they pushed against the boundaries but why wouldn’t they? Coming from chaotic, trauma filled upbringings where boundaries were loose, structure was non-existent and routine was ephemeral, if at all!
This probably paints a very rosy picture when we all know how challenging some of our young people can be and yes, we too have had many challenges!
Carl and I sat and reflected on this, reflected on our approach and the feedback we had from our boys. One child stood up in class once and told everyone he had two foster Dads and he was proud of that (he went back to his birth family 18 months ago but still calls us Papa, comes around and bombards us with calls and texts).
None of our boys have ever been ashamed, embarrassed or tried to deny who we are, yet there still seems to be a lack of LGBT foster carers, who will have so much to offer, and I wonder if they think the same way we did; how will the young people react to them and can they cope?
As foster carers we all have the same worries and feelings at times, but it is testament, from our young people, that the little things we all do regardless of our age, gender, sexual orientation or colour, matter.
Wayne and Carl
Foster carers Wayne and Carl share their experiences of fostering in the September edition of our foster carer newsletter. You can read the full newsletter on our website here.