“I never expected to be fostering children after being in foster care myself”

Author: TACT Communications

Tags: care experienced, Fostering siblings, LGBT

James and Bryan – TACT foster carers since 2018

My partner Bryan and I have been fostering with TACT for the past two and a half years. Before fostering, Bryan worked in the police force for 16 years and I had worked at a day centre looking after adults with disabilities. Bryan had seen what can happen to vulnerable children from a police perspective and I had experienced care as a child, so we felt this would help us care for a child who might be going through similar experiences.

Bryan and I have been together now 8 years and felt we were lucky enough to have a comfortable, settled and happy home, so we discussed having a family together. We explored our options and came to the conclusion that fostering would be the best option for us.
As a gay couple we didn’t actually know if this would be allowed due to our experience growing up and feeling like being gay wasn’t socially acceptable. We knew things had changed but didn’t know how much. However, we found that our sexuality wasn’t a barrier at all to fostering.

Our first placement was a 10-year-old boy on an emergency placement. We had only just had our first panel to confirm that we would become foster carers when we got the call. We were really delighted and excited, but nervous too. Once I read the little guy’s story I saw a lot of similarities with my own experiences.

That first night he slept the whole night through, although we definitely didn’t! He was with us for 18 months and in that time we saw a lot of emotional change. He would often tell us he was bored, which we came to realise actually meant he was anxious. Over time he began to open up and after 18 months he left us a lot more aware of his emotions and able to self-regulate.

The day before the UK announced the first lockdown in March, we took in two young girls, one 6 months old and the other 2, who are still with us today. We were less nervous this time and felt more prepared to settle the girls in and understand their needs.

When they arrived, they were malnourished and didn’t know how to eat. They didn’t even know what a bed or a bath was. But now they’re both potty trained, sleeping in their own bed, happy, content and running around which is just lovely to see. The girls are just absolutely fantastic.

Me and Bryan absolutely dote on the girls. There’s been sleepless nights, teething, sore tummies but it’s been an amazing experience. When we work through the traumas that they still hold, and they work something out and smile it’s all worth it.

I never expected to be fostering children after being in foster care myself. Fostering has helped me to put my own childhood experiences into context, and I’ve been on my own journey with the children. I’m so happy that I decided to foster, it has completely changed our lives. The children we’ve cared for are like family to us.

I know that there are thousands of LGBT people who long to be parents but are frightened to take the first step because they believe that their sexuality will be a problem. I am hoping that this story lets them know that this is not the case and the only thing you will be judged on is whether you can provide a loving home.

Read more about fostering sibling groups.

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