LGBT community in city urged to consider adoption or fostering

HAPPY FAMILY Rory, far right, with Deamonn and Barry

This week is National LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week and Portsmouth City Council is raising awareness among the LGBT community that individuals or couples can foster or adopt children and young people

It’s more than 10 years since same-sex couples were legally allowed in the UK to adopt and foster children, but some people are still surprised it’s an option for them.

Portsmouth City Council actively works to raise awareness of this fact with members of the LGBT community and urge them to consider changing the life of a child or young person.

We chatted to Deamonn and Barry, a same-sex foster couple in Portsmouth, who have been foster carers for seven years, fostering Rory since the age of 14.

Deamonn said: ‘My partner, Barry, and I were always confident that we would make good parents, and we really wanted to give a child or young person the family environment they needed.

‘While we were initially uncertain whether our sexuality could be a barrier to fostering, the council’s fostering team were very welcoming, and we’ve never looked back.

‘Rory was a young teenager when he came to live with us, and with me being a teacher and Barry working in a school, we always stressed how important it was for him to concentrate on his schoolwork, which wasn’t going well at the time.

‘Of course it wasn’t easy for him, but he did as we asked and committed himself more and more.

‘He ended up winning an award at school for his change in attitude to his education, and we were incredibly proud to see him do really well in his GCSEs and college thereafter.

‘We have seen him grow into a fine, articulate, intelligent young man, with a really good work ethic.

‘He’s held down a job for some time now, run a legitimate side business successfully, saved his money sensibly and recently been travelling with his girlfriend.

‘It’s amazing, when I think about it, how far he has developed really. I remember when we gave him his first front door key to the house, he ran from the car to let himself in after we’d all been out for the evening.

‘Even a small thing like a front door key gave him such a boost, helping him feel secure and to realise that this was his home too now.’

Rory said: ‘My foster carers’ sexuality never made any difference to me. If the situation comes up where a young person is going to be fostered by a same-sex couple, I don’t think the same-sex part matters. If they meet the needs of the young person, then I don’t see any reason why anyone should be worried or have a problem with it.

‘Moving into a foster placement with Deamonn and Barry was the beginning of my life changing.’

Cllr Ryan Brent, the council’s cabinet member for children’s social care, said: ‘We still find that there are a number of misconceptions about who can adopt and foster, and not just around sexuality. We urgently need more families for children in care, and families come in all shapes and sizes. We want people to know that you can adopt or foster regardless of sexuality, ethnicity, whether single or part of a couple, and while a spare room is needed, whether you own or rent your own property.

‘We are especially keen to recruit people who have experience of working with children or young people, or people with disabilities, whether on a personal, professional or voluntary basis.’

Anyone considering fostering a child or young person can attend a drop-in session at the civic offices reception area on Tuesday, March 6 from 6.45pm-8pm, with a brief presentation running at 7pm.

You can have all your questions answered, and chat to some of our current foster carers.

n For more information on fostering, please contact the fostering recruitment team on (023) 9283 4071 for a chat to one of the team, visitfoster.portsmouth.gov.uk, or you can email fostering@portsmouthcc.gov.uk.

n For more information on adoption, please contact the Portsmouth adoption service on (023) 9287 5294, visitadoption.portsmouth.gov.uk, or email adoptioncentre@portsmouthcc.gov.uk.

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