There are many misconceptions surrounding who can and cannot foster. Often these myths lead to many people believing that they would not be able to become foster carers when in fact they could! At Compass Fostering, we actively welcome carers from various backgrounds, religions, race, ethnicities, gender and sexual orientations as these do not define your ability to be a great foster parent.
A third of LGBT people think they will face barriers when applying to be a foster carer. We want to demystify any myths or worries that you may have when considering fostering and introduce you to Mark and Nick; a same sex couple who are a shining example of brilliant LGBT foster parents.
Can I foster if I am gay/lesbian/bisexual?
Yes – sexual orientation has no bearing on a person’s ability to be a foster carer. Whatever your sexuality, you just need to be able to offer the warmth, care and stability needed for foster care.
Can I foster if I am transgender?
Yes – your sex and/or gender do not affect your capability or suitability to foster.
Can I foster if I’m in a same-sex relationship?
Yes – couples can apply to foster together as a primary and secondary carer. A same-sex relationship does not act as a defining factor in your capacity to foster.
Mark and Nick’s story
Mark and Nick have been fostering with Compass for over 7 years. They currently have three foster children living with them and have created a loving, supportive family together. ‘When we applied with Compass, I was worried that they wouldn’t want a same sex couple or our house wouldn’t be big enough,’ Nick remembers.
‘Initially it was a fear of what people would think of a gay couple looking after someone else’s child, but we are a strong couple and knew we could address any challenges sent to “test” us and thought to ourselves “if others can do it, why can’t we?”’
‘We are just ordinary people- we had a house with a spare bedroom and that’s all that we needed.’
Luke, (23), one of their foster children is living with them in a ‘staying put’ arrangement. He came to Mark and Nick when he was 16 years old. He was the couple’s first foster child and has been with them ever since.
‘We were worried that Luke would leave soon after he came to live with us, as he was 16, he’d turn 18 and he could leave- but we could see that he needed us.’ Luke had been struggling with his own LGBT identity and Mark and Nick helped him through this period. The family even moved to a new house after Luke’s time in care came to end so he could continue to stay with them.
When in assessment, Nick was asked by their Social Worker why he wanted to foster. He remembered how he struggled as a child with his own identity- and to help a young person through this would be a worthwhile achievement. ‘We believe that everything happens for a reason and I believe that Luke came to us for the right ones. He was just 16 years late to us.’
Within their first year of fostering they were nominated and won FosterTalk’s New Carers of the Year award in 2014, act as ambassadors for other foster carers and commit their time to focus groups with Compass.
C, another of their foster children said that being cared for by LGBT foster carers doesn’t make much of a difference to him in his day to day life. ‘I don’t really think about it that much, they’re just ordinary people that look after you. It feels just like a normal everyday family, except they’re the same gender.’
Both Mark and Nick act as role models and provide support for every young person that steps into their home and they have created an environment where each of the boys feel safe. ‘A typical day in our house is similar to the TV shows where everyone is running around in the morning, yelling “where’s my trainers- have you brushed your teeth- have you got your bag?” It’s just what we call a typical family life. ‘
‘You don’t just open your home when fostering, you open your heart, your mind and a whole new way of life for all involved.’
If you believe that you could provide a safe and caring environment for young people who need it, please get in touch with us to find out more about foster care. Our welcoming team of professionals will be happy to take you through any questions you may have.