Can members of the LGBT community foster? It is a common question and one that comes with a positive answer.

Being a foster carer is about personal qualities, rather than sexual orientation or gender. Foster children present an array of diverse and complex needs, and that means foster carers from all walks of life are needed.

Why LGBT fostering is a great idea

Despite more open discussion and acceptance of same-sex relationships and marriages, and a dialogue beginning to open over people identifying as transgender, research by Action for Children in 2013 identified that a third of the LGBT community think they are not eligible to become foster carers.

LGBT Fostering and Adoption Week 2018 will take places from 5th to 11th March, with this year’s theme being ‘10 Good Reasons’. Two reasons will be released every day as to why adoption and fostering by the LGBT community is a win-win situation for everyone, the foster child included.

As with any foster placement, it is the needs of the child that take centre stage when it comes to the right placement. Having suffered a traumatic start to life, there is a need for the child to be placed with a carer who understands their needs, working with them to safely explore their feelings.

Does LGBT fostering have positive outcomes?

All potential foster carers (and adopters) complete training as part of their application process. Examining common fostering issues, there is evidence from research that backs up the positive impacts of LGBT fostering.

In 2010, The Centre for Family Research, based at the University of Cambridge, interviewed 82 children and young people whose adopted or foster parents were lesbian, gay or bisexual;

  • No difference – the very young children of gay parents didn’t see their families as being any different to those of their friends.
  • Special & different – older children did see their families as special and different but here’s the great bit: these children saw all families as special and different, not just their own.
  • More accepting – children who were adopted or fostered by gay parents said they didn’t mind their parents being gay but they did wish that other people were more accepting and ‘minded less’.

And this isn’t the only piece of research that shows how LGBT fostering and adopting of children is making a difference. A later piece of research by the University of Cambridge on behalf of British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) also found that same-sex couples who adopted were successful. In particular, it found that children of gay fathers fared particularly well.

Helping children to thrive

Essentially, fostering children is about helping them to thrive, whilst making sense of their world. As adults, we assume that because same-sex couples are ‘different’ because transgender people are ‘different’ or, that bisexual people are ‘different’ that this will hinder foster children.

But the evidence shows that it is this ‘difference’ that is a platform for fostered and adopted children to thrive.

The same application process

Applications to become foster carers are welcomed from everyone and no matter what your gender, relationship status or sexuality, the application process is the same;

  1. More information – if you are interested in fostering (or adopting), you need to get more information not just about the process but what being a foster carer really means.
  2. Home visits – if you decide to continue with your application, a social worker will start a series of home visits to complete the application form, as well as discuss worries and concerns you may have.
  3. Initial training – fostering agencies, as part of the application process, facilitate training over several days that looks at core fostering values, as well as issues and challenges.
  4. Approval – once the application form is complete and you have attended the training course, your application is reviewed by a panel. If they are satisfied all criteria is met and you understand what fostering is about, they will approve your application. Within weeks of this happening, you could be welcoming your first foster child into your home!

There is no denying the fulfilment that you and your partner, if you have one, will get from fostering a child. Could you provide a home for a child in need?