Hi Gemma, thanks for speaking with us.
As part of LGBT+ Fostering and Adoption Week, we’re catching up with our LGBT+ carers. The theme this year is ‘Building your family’.
Many LGBT+ carers choose fostering as a way of creating or building their families, was that the case for you?
Gemma: Erm, yes and no. Nancy was involved before we met, and initially we were part of a scheme caring for older children and care leavers. We did that for 5 years, before becoming foster carers. So at that stage, we weren’t really thinking of building our family as such, we just wanted to help young people have the best start in adulthood. I was only in my early 20s myself at that point too, so I don’t think it was really even on my radar!
That being said, once we started to care for the children we have now, that all changed. Their circumstances meant that they needed long-term carers, and at ages 12, 10 and 7, it was a different situation altogether. They needed a family for life, and we knew that we could be just that.
Did you encounter any barriers when you first started?
Gemma: 10 years ago, things were very different generally. Being LGBT+ wasn’t as widely accepted. I think I made barriers for myself as a result of this. I think my thoughts were ‘I’ve not been accepted for years and years, why would it be any different in fostering?’
How would you describe the support you receive?
Gemma: Our Supervising Social Worker, also called Gemma, is incredible. She really has been so good to us. She’s literally there whenever we need her, for advice or to blow off steam. I’m dyslexic, and it definitely took a while for me to develop my confidence with things like training. It’s been baby steps for sure, and I still find it hard, but the service now know me well, and have adapted to my needs, which has been hugely helpful to me.
Do you have any advice for LGBT+ people who are thinking about fostering?
Gemma: I guess go into it for the right reasons, do your research and look at the different options. Everyone’s circumstances are different, and this isn’t any different if you’re LGBT+. Fostering was definitely the best fit for us, and it could be for you too.
What has been the highlight of building your family?
Gemma: Oh wow, where would I even start! There are so many things day-to-day, but very generally -I always think it’s about giving them a sense of belonging whilst giving us purpose to our own lives.
The children have never been bothered that we’re a same-sex couple. They all call us ‘mum’, which is so, so, so good, but was definitely a bit scary at first. They still have lots of contact with their birth mum too, so there’s three of us. Which could be a bit complicated I guess, but its normal to us!
Nobody will ever understand what these children have given to me and Nancy, not the fostering team, not our friends and family, not anyone. We adore them.
*Phone rings* School call, one of the children need collecting from school. So is the life of a foster carer!
Thanks for chatting with us Gemma!
We have many LGBT+ foster carers across Cheshire West and Chester, Halton and Warrington. If you’re LGBT+ and feeling inspired, we’d love to hear from you. Request an info pack today: https://www.foster4.co.uk/enquire/
To find out more about New Family Social, who lead the LGBT+ campaign, visit their website New Family Social – Home