As February ends, we leave behind LGBT+ History Month. But the pride continues, as next week is LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week (4th – 10th March).
Statistics from the Department of Education show that LGBT+ couples account for 1 in every 8 adoptions. Since this doesn’t include bisexuals, single LGBT+ adopters, and trans people not in a relationship, it is fair to say that the real number is even higher. However, more LGBT+ adopters are needed – and encouraged.
We adopted through Derbyshire County Council and were impressed by how they approached our same-sex status. It was always discussed fully and frankly: there was no rainbow elephant in the room. Since we were approved, several LGBT+ couples have followed. Some of these have been assigned to our assessing social worker, who now has working knowledge of assisting lesbians in the adoption process and becoming parents. She put us in touch with same-sex adopters to help us broaden our understanding; now we have offered to return the favour, by sharing our experience with prospective adopters.
As same-sex parents, we mostly experience parenting (specifically adoptive parenting) like everyone else. We have the highs, the lows, and the mundane reality in between. One stark difference I have noticed is that most same-sex parents have approached adoption as their first choice. Often the pain and difficulty of trying to conceive has not been a feature of our journey to parenthood. As such, we approach it differently (not better, just differently). And I think this can be a positive thing.
Same-sex parents can also appreciate, to some extent, issues surrounding identity that are so vital to adoptees. The circumstances are difference but that feeling of otherness may be the same. Living in a heteronormative society, I find that I ‘come out’ almost daily. In the past week, my wife has been mistaken for my sister and mother. Both assumptions are based on what people expect families to look like (though the latter did make me howl with laughter; she’s less than three years older than I am). I believe people make assumptions about adoption and, in turn, about adoptees. Quick judgements based on what they expect or think they know. Some awareness of this could be invaluable when adoptees are trying to piece together their story and understand their own identity.
As hard as it has been at times, adopting Little Chick has been absolutely the best thing we have ever done. And, in the circumstances, it was a good move for him too. If you are LGBT+, considering adoption, and would like to ask any questions please do contact us (you can also get in touch if you’re not LGBT+!). We try to speak as freely as we can without sharing too much of our little boy’s story (they are his details to share – or not).
You can learn more about LGBT+ adoption and fostering at New Family Social, the only national LGBT+ adoption and fostering charity in the UK. It provides support, improves the treatment of LGBT+ people in the adoption and fostering process, encourages inclusion and works directly with its members and agencies to find more new families for children in care.
Update (April 2019): Derbyshire is now part of Adoption East Midlands. They joined forces with Nottinghamshire County Council, Nottingham City Council and Derby City Council to more effectively find the best matches for children needing to be adopted and people hoping to adopt.