As the UK marks LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week between 6 March to 12 March, Steven O’Reilly writes about his experience of becoming a foster parent with his partner Dan.
Dan and I both come from very loving families, and we always knew we wanted to have a family of our own. Fostering felt like a great way to fulfil that desire.
We started the application process with TACT (the Adolescent and Children’s Trust) in August 2013. It was a really interesting experience, making us think about things we hadn’t considered before, such as our individual strengths and weaknesses, how previous relationships have affected us, and who our positive role models were in the past. At no point were we made to feel that our sexuality was an obstacle.
The process ultimately reinforced our belief that we were capable of fostering, and led us to decide it would be best if Dan continued to work and I would become a full time stay at home foster parent.
It took less than a year for Dan and I to be approved to foster, and when we found out in August 2014 that we would have our first placement, a 10 year-old boy. We felt scared, excited, nervous but ultimately very happy. Once he had moved in with us we were initially apprehensive and doubted our own abilities but pretty quickly all the training we had received and our natural instincts kicked in. In addition, we felt very supported by our social worker at TACT and our families, all of whom were on hand to give advice as well as reassure us whenever we needed.
Two and a half years on our foster son is now 13, and we have been matched as his long term foster carers, which means he will be staying with us until he moves on to independence.
It has been a full-on experience for the three of us. We have taken part in loads of training, been part of important meetings with other professionals, raised a 10 year-old into a teenager and last year went on our first cruise, which was also the first time Dan and our child had been outside of the UK. We have also learnt one of the most important things in fostering in the last year, which is to make time for yourselves and for each other.
For us fostering has not always been easy but it has been very rewarding. Seeing the behaviours and personality of our child change, develop and blossom has been our greatest reward, and encourages us to continue through the harder times and want to continue fostering for many years to come, hopefully helping many more young people in need of care.
For more information about adoption and fostering, visit TACT’s official website here.