LGBT+ Adoption and Fostering: A Journey to Building a Loving Family
March 6th - 12th 2023 marks LGBT+ adoption and fostering week so we've handed over the blog to Matt of Proud 2 B Parents to shine a light on LGBT+ families and the journey to starting a family.
Hi, I am Matt, I use the pronouns he/his and I am the Managing Director of Proud 2 b Parents, an organisation run by and for LGBT+ parents/carers and their children.
With my husband of 11 years, I am an adoptive parent to our amazing son. I also work for a regional adoption agency as an independent panel member and have previously worked for an independent foster agency within the same role.
Both I and my partner had our own journeys to parenthood which brought with it varying emotions. I was the stay-at-home Dadda, taking adoption leave from work. It was a privilege to be at home with my son, to support him, teach him, show him the world around him, and have lots of fun.
Our baby came to us when he was 8 months old, it was destiny that we would be his parents, it was written in the stars. Our journey to being his parents had many highs and lows, the assessment process was long and drawn out but a cathartic experience. We knuckled down knowing that the end goal was worth it. We encountered microaggressions and homophobia throughout, however, this did not deter us as we wanted a family above everything else. Being the managing director of Proud 2 B Parents, gave me inside knowledge and understanding of our route to parenthood, plus a community that supported us and rallied around us when times got tough.
Back in 2020, we were involved in a project called the Unseen Community that captured the real life of Manchester-based LGBT+ parents/carers. My image was to reflect how lucky I am, how at times in the day I have my whole world in one room with me. As well as showing the ‘normality’ of being a parent, never having a moment to yourself, and always being there for someone else.
Looking at the photo now it makes me sad, as this little boy is growing, changing, and developing and soon he won’t want to be on the floor in the bathroom with me. He is not my baby anymore but my 6-year-old with opinions, thoughts, and ideas. My little shadow is no more, but I am truly grateful for the other moment I don’t have alone!
I wanted my photo to show the wider community that I am like you! I am a parent too. I have the same overwhelming love for my child and the same fears, hopes, and dreams. But I also worry that you will disprove of him because of me. I worry that you won't accept him because of his parents. I worry you won't let your child be friends with him because of who I love.
Back in 2021 our family grew again as we decided to become foster carers, for numerous reasons:
To support children in care, we had skills and experiences which we felt allowed us to advocate for children in the care system
- To offer a stable, consistent, and caring home. With numerous opportunities for having various experiences and extended learning
- To allow for more of a family life with our son
- Extend our family in an alternative way
We have had a few placements now. However, our current placement has been with us for over 2 years and is likely to stay long-term. This means that our family grew from one child to three overnight.
Fostering and being a foster carer is a different journey to adoption, and being a carer is different from being a parent. However, the changes you can make to a child’s life by being a consistent caregiver with warm understanding, reflective practice, and patience can be life-changing for both them and you.
I am a great advocate for LGBT + individuals to become foster carers as I feel our community has a greater understanding of the difficulties care experienced children go through such as - acceptance, understanding of difference, the need to form your own family that is not blood-related, unconscious bias and microaggression. I, therefore, feel that these skills can support children navigate through the care system and come out the other side.