Members of the LGBTQ+ community are being encouraged to consider adoption and fostering to grow their family

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lots of different colourful words relating to foster care

The initiative comes as part of a national awareness week, promoted by Wigan Council, aimed at dispelling concerns that gender or sexual orientation could stand in the way.

Almost half of LGBT people said they expected to face barriers if they applied, a YouGov poll on behalf of charity Stonewall found last year.

Speaking as part of LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week, Councillor Paula Wakefield urged anyone who could provide a loving home for a child to explore their options.

Coun Wakefield, lead member for equalities, said: “There are children in our borough right now who need safe, loving families to care for them.

“I know that some people who might be considering adoption or fostering may be reluctant to come forward because the process does involve all applicants discussing some elements of their personal lives.

“This is important to ensure that a child is matched with the right family for them, but it doesn’t matter to us if you are cisgender, transgender, non-binary, straight, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, gender fluid, or if you prefer to use your own terms.

“What’s important is that you are comfortable with who you are and that you could offer a child a stable and caring home.”

LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week runs from 1-7 March. It aims to encourage the LGBTQ+ community to consider building a family and raises awareness of different parenting options.

In 2020, one in six adoptions in England were to same sex couples.

Dan*, along with husband Jay*, both 26, have recently been through the council’s adoption process.

Dan said: “Adopting was always something we wanted to do, we talked about it right from the start of our relationship.

“The process was a bit daunting at first, especially as most of our meetings were digital because of the pandemic.

“But it was also a great process to go through as you learn such a lot about yourself and your partner.

“The whole process took around 10 months and everyone we met along the way was lovely.

“No-one is trying to trip you up, they’re just trying to find out who you are as a person, so that you can be matched with the right child for you.”

The couple adopted a one-year-old boy in October.

He added: “Becoming a parent is amazing and daunting at the same time as it’s not something you ever get trained for, but we felt very supported by our social worker.”

“To other people I would say, if adoption is something you really want to do, just go for it.”

Anyone who wishes to adopt or foster in the UK must be over the age of 21, but can be single, married, in a civil partnership or part of an unmarried couple.

There are regular virtual information events for anyone in Wigan Borough who is considering adoption. The next event is on 9th March. To book your place or to find out more go to www.togetherforadoption.co.uk

For information on fostering go to www.wigan.gov.uk/fostering