What’s it like to be a same-sex couple fostering a child?

Guest post from foster carers for LGBT Adoption & Fostering Week 2017

Last summer, we took our foster daughter to Oxford Pride with us. She loved celebrating diversity and equality as well as hula hooping and having a rainbow painted on her face. As a same-sex couple fostering for Oxfordshire County Council, we have been treated with respect and have found that being a same-sex couple hasn’t been an issue with either staff or the foster children. One child decided to call us “Mapa” and “Pama” — a combination of Mama and Papa — and one delighted in having three Mummies — her birth Mum and the two of us — but mainly we have been called by our first names like other foster carers. 

We also like to think we offer strengths from our histories, which are inextricably tied to the way we have developed as a lesbian and a bisexual. We encourage ambition beyond a label and value accepting a child for who they are and fostering their interests. We can empathize with their feeling different while acknowledging that we have not experienced what they are experiencing and that each child is unique. We’ve provided resources to another carer fostering a transgendered child, and we’re able to draw upon a support network that understands that your value is not defined by biology or by expectations from society.  

We also believe that we offer strengths in our family. We aim for equality in our partnership, and we try to parent equally as well. (This has sometimes thrown social workers for a loop when they expect there to be one primary carer at all times and get confused by communicating with both of us.) By not adhering to strict gender norms, we hope that children can expand their world of possibility, which may be particularly helpful for children who have had rigidly reinforced genders norms (like boys shouldn’t cry or girls should be quiet) or who have observed gendered-based violence. We hope that the children who come to our family are able to see what an equal, loving relationship is like and take forward to adulthood a reflection on what they want for all of the relationships.

LGBT issues and foster caring are not just for LGBT carers. As Aine — a care leaver who sits on panel to approve foster carers — says, she sometimes asks potential carers how they would react if their foster child came out as LGBT after being with them and feeling in a safer environment. Fostering is about providing a loving environment for each child unique to who they are. It’s aiming for equality in life opportunities and celebrating diversity, which sometimes means having a rainbow painted on your face.

Back to blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *