Councils across Dorset joined in to support LGBT adoption and fostering week to create awareness, and encouraged people to meet the demand for adoptive and foster parents in the area.
Councillor Toni Coombs, cabinet member for children’s services at Dorset County Council, said: “We are looking for people from all walks of life to consider adopting or fostering a child in Dorset and who feel they can make a real difference and provide loving support.”
Nick King, a gay dad of two adopted children, believed the week was just as much about raising awareness about LGBT adopters in the community in general.
He argued for the “general benefit of highlighting the ‘normality’ of LGBT families, which in itself supports the argument that same sex couples should be treated no differently to heterosexual people.”
He said: “I think awareness of how to go through adoption is good amongst those in the LGBT community who are interested in adoption and having children. My experience is that’s a minority of the LGBT community.”
Same sex couples have had the legal right to adopt since 2005, and numbers from the British Association of Adoption and Fostering showed that 3% (100) of children were adopted by same sex couples, either in a civil partnership or not, during the year ending 31 March 2011.
Mr King and his partner adopted two children through Bournemouth Social Services and found the process not complex, but thorough.
He said: “It not only vetted us to ensure we were appropriate people to adopt but at the same time prepared us for the experience of adoption and working with children who, by the nature of their background, can sometimes be very challenging.”
A new study conducted by Cambridge University published a week ago, showed that children adopted by gay or lesbian couples are just as likely to thrive as those adopted by heterosexual couples. The study also showed that gay fathers appeared to have more interaction with their children and the children of gay fathers had particularly busy social lives.
Mr King said the support and acceptance from the community has been great. “A perfect example is Mothering Sunday, which annually throws our children’s teachers in to a spin as they try to find ways to accommodate the fact the children don’t have a mother in to their preparations for the day.”
“It’s very sweet of them, the children really don’t worry about it at all, and we try and reassure them that just preparing a card for Grandma is fine,” he said.
“There will undoubtedly be challenges for all of us ahead, and all we can do is to equip the children as best we can to understand that families come in many different shapes and sizes and whilst we might be slightly unusual, but not that unusual these days, as long as we are supportive and loving to one another that is the most important thing,” Mr King said.
Bournemouth Council announced on Friday a fostering challenge with the goal of attracting 50 new foster carers within the next two years.
“There are many myths about foster caring out there which can deter some in our community from considering themselves as potential foster carer. Families, same sex couples and singles are equally capable of providing a much needed environment for children,” said Councillor Blair Crawford of Bournemouth Borough Council.
Main image: Beni Ishaque Luthor.