For many years, same-sex couples, together with gay and lesbian singles, were deemed unsuitable for fostering or adopting children. Thankfully, those days of blind and unnecessary prejudice are far behind us, with charities, private organisations and local authorities not just accepting prospective same-sex foster parents but, in many cases, actively seeking them. The best-known and best-loved name of all – Barnardo’s – is no exception, and we’re thrilled to be able to showcase Jonathan and Adam’s story. As a single sex couple, Jonathan and Adam* from South Wales chose Barnardo’s as an organisation which particularly welcomes foster carers from different backgrounds.
This is their story.
“From when we first met we knew we wanted a family together. I have two children of my own and Adam was very involved with bringing up his nieces and nephew.
“We initially looked at adoption but fostering had a wider appeal for us as we could help more than one child. Adam has foster carers in his family and we had spent a lot of time with them and had been on holidays with them and their foster children.
“We are so pleased it’s the path we took. We got into it not really having a full understanding of what fostering entails but as we went through the process we got to a point when we thought, yes it will be hard work but we can do it. We’ve never regretted it for a moment.
“We have had great support behind us from Barnardo’s Cymru and Hayley, our social worker. Having chance to meet other foster carers during training and listening to their stories has been really good too.
“We are more than 18 months into fostering now and our second child who is seven has moved in. We hope he will stay with us long term.
“This time we committed to a very long transition period for him as he had already had several previous foster placements break down and this time we wanted to be 100% sure we were the right foster family for him and that he would be comfortable with us as his foster dads.”
“Because of lockdown the transition period was even more difficult so we spent some of the time getting to know each other on Skype and telephone calls, all whilst he was still in his residential home but we made sure that he was always the centre of our attention and hopefully he knew we were still there for him and not giving up or going anywhere.
I think that extra time made his moving in feel very natural. We had a “Welcome Home” day for him when he finally moved in and together with the family we wanted to make it a special event. That was the start of the slow process of creating routines together and figuring out how to live together as a family, the settling in period.
“You have to forget the baggage they arrive with and just focus on the child in front of you. Yes, their history can explain some of their behaviour but you can’t hang onto it. You have to just get on with caring for them. We try to make things fun and see the humour in things as children do.
“You can’t expect big miracles but when they begin to confide in you or ask for a hug and when people who know them say they’ve seen a real difference because they look so relaxed and settled at home, that’s the reward for us.
“Chris loves settling down to watch films with us and we have been watching all the old classics with him, like Jungle Book, and he comes up with all sorts of ideas and projects which he writes down in a book. When we have a rainy day we start on one of his projects. He invented a small sanding machine and we actually built it!
“One of the things we enjoy most is seeing him learn and enjoy those simple lightbulb moments of just being a child, which you would normally just take for granted. Chris tells us he wants to stay with us until he’s 33 and so we are certainly in fostering for the long term.”
Find out more about fostering with Barnardo’s here.
*All names have been changed