There is no denying that progress has been made over recent decades in terms of enabling lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people to adopt and foster. However, it seems more could still be done.
According to new research by Action for Children and New Family Social, over a third of LGBT individuals believe their sexuality is a barrier when considering adoption or fostering.
Some facts and figures
Of the 400 people polled for the study, 36 per cent revealed they think their sexuality serves as an impediment and this figure increases to over half (53 per cent) in Scotland. In addition, 25 per cent of respondents had been told they should not be a parent, often by members of their own families.
An urgent need
Responding to the findings, interim chief executive of Action for Children Jacob Tas said: “Being a good parent has nothing to do with being gay or straight. Right now there are more than 6,000 children waiting to be adopted and an urgent need to find 8,600 foster families. We run fostering and adoption services and help children achieve their dreams of having families.”
Meanwhile, director of New Family Social Tor Docherty added: “If just one per cent of the LGBT community adopt or foster, this could plug the gap and ensure every child in the country has a loving home.”
Challenging but rewarding
Of course, deciding to adopt or foster children is not a decision anyone should take lightly. It is a major responsibility and it requires a lot of thought and preparation first. However, when done for the right reasons and in the right circumstances, it can benefit everyone involved.
Two people who are well aware of the benefits of this process are Stig and Phill Williams. This same-sex couple in north London spoke to Action for Children about their journey to become adoptive parents to three children. They revealed that the process was challenging but ultimately rewarding.
Stig remarked: “You need to have a very strong relationship with your partner and know that you will stay with each other forever. The children have been through so much and will often try and test you. But as long as you and your partner speak to each and know how to handle these situations the benefits are endless.”
The rules on fostering and adoption
In the UK, people must be over 21 years of age in order to adopt and they must be able to provide a permanent, stable and caring home. It does not matter whether they are single or married or in or out of work, nor does it matter what race, religion or sexuality they are. The key question that adoption agencies ask is whether people can offer a stable environment until adulthood and beyond.
Similarly, foster carers can be single or in a relationship and they can be gay, lesbian or straight. Most agencies welcome applications from individuals who are aged anywhere from their mid-20s to their 60s. Often, people foster multiple youngsters over a period of time.
Anna Longdin writes regularly about fertility and parenting issues. She visits sites including Pride Angel to ensure she stays up to date on all the latest industry news and developments.