Image description: On a grey background, there are 3D paper hearts in rainbow colours on the left and two larger paper dolls holding hands with a smaller paper doll in the middle. The paper dolls are holding LGBTQ+ flags in their free hands and there is a rainbow striped heart above them.
When I came to the realisation that I would probably have a life partner that was female (as I am), I think I experienced a distinct mourning period that I would not be able to create a family in the traditional way. However, I now consider that a particularly beautiful thing as it was only through that journey that I had to stop and consider what family meant to me. Family is really important to me and I have been so lucky to be able to realise that I consider family to be made from humans that may not be related to you through blood or genetics, but through the solidity and love you share in your relationships. I have also been lucky enough to have found a partner that shares the same sentiments regarding family.
Family is as important to my partner Emma as it is me. It seems we had both experienced similar periods of reflection as to what makes a family and had both considered fostering prior to meeting one another and it was still important to both of us together as it was separately.
There was a particular period of time in which we kept seeing adverts regarding becoming a foster parent and hearing radio adverts from our local county council, so after a lengthy time of considering if we could manage becoming Foster parents practically, we decided to enquire.
We spoke to a variety of very helpful people who discussed the role of a Foster parent and realities and it wasn't long before they put us in touch with a social worker to begin our application process. I was a bit worried in the beginning about how we would be received as a same sex couple. We live in a small town in which there isn't a lot of LGBTQ+ people so I was unsure how much involvement a social worker would have with our community and if they would feel comfortable with us.
However, my concerns were very quickly laid to rest when we met our assessing social worker. She was absolutely incredible and I could not have imagined a better person to guide us on the beginning of our journey than her. She made us feel so comfortable and reassured any concerns we had and directed us to any further knowledge we needed to become capable Foster parents.
We had read a lot of gruelling reports about the assessment process. It is very detailed in which they need to know your complete life story and talk to your friends and family to get to know what you are like as a person. However, with our social worker the process was kind of like making a new friend in which you slowly let them know about your life and how you came to be the person you are today. There was a lot of laughter, learning and homework, sometimes it would be difficult to manage all of the things that needed to be done on top of the responsibilities you already have in your life. One element Emma and I particularly enjoyed was that the process inspired a lot of deeper conversation between us about everything; our lives, our attachment styles, our traumas, our conversation styles, our stress management, our boundaries and a lot regarding how we would want to guide children in our home. I do think the assessment process was incredible in helping us understand one another better and enhancing our communication.
Regarding concerns we had about how we would fare as Foster parents as a same sex couple our social worker was reassuring and very simple. The underlying message was you will love on the child and keep them safe, as long as you are also safe, does much beyond that matter? In a downward spiral of worry, having that grounding anchor was incredible.
The assessment process took about 6 months and concluded in a meeting chaired by a panel who had all read the detailed report our social worker had written and were ready to ask us questions. For all the anxiety that led up to the panel meeting, it was over very quickly and we were overjoyed to hear that we were unanimously approved to be Foster parents. Then came the real challenge, waiting for the phone to ring...