Jess and Toni – TACT foster carers since 2021
As a gay couple, my partner and I were always aware that having children would not be a physical possibility for us. We discussed different options such as adoption, surrogacy or a sperm donor. However, we eventually decided that having our own biological child was not important to us and we wanted to help anywhere we could within the world of fostering or adoption. We felt that with fostering we could help a lot more children on their journey than we could through adoption, so we decided to find out more.
When lockdown hit, we saw the shocking statistics coming out and knew it was time to enquire. We did a lot of research and contacted several authorities and agencies but when we found TACT, they stood out a mile from the others we had contacted. They gave us warm, calm and caring vibes, and we immediately felt at home with them.
Once we had been approved, we were both really excited to begin our fostering journey. The night before the young person arrived, the nerves kicked in and it suddenly dawned on us that another human would be coming to live with us, and that we would be looking after them. We started to doubt ourselves as we hadn’t had any experience of raising a child full-time. Then our social worker called us to see how we were. We told her our true feelings and concerns, but she calmed us down and put our minds at ease. She explained that our life experiences and our caring personalities made us ideal carers and that every carer must start somewhere.
The first day our young person arrived, we just spent the evening getting to know each other. Toni owns a pizza restaurant, so she brought home fresh dough and ingredients and we all made pizza together. He was quite shy and wasn’t making much conversation, so Toni put on Italian music and started singing along, which brought him out of his shell. We then laughed at how disastrously the pizzas ended up looking, but they were delicious. We then asked what his favourite movie was and sat down to watch it together. We showed him his bedroom and asked him to think about how he’d like to decorate it. He came back with a big list.
Seeing his confidence grow since being with us is such a great feeling. He came to us identifying as a female but wanting to dress masculine. He struggled with understanding whether he was a male or female. He always asked us for our opinion or if we had ever questioned our gender. We always reassured him that he should be whoever he wants to be and we would fully support that. He then made the decision to cut off all his hair, which he had wanted to do for a while, identify as a male, and go by a male name.
Since being with us, his attitude towards learning has also changed significantly. He was unsettled in a previous placement, and this was reflected in his behaviour at school. Now he is settled and comfortable with us, we can focus on his school life and have encouraged him to concentrate so that he can do the apprenticeship he wants to do. He has really taken this on board, detentions have decreased, and his homework and results have improved. He is also receiving extra tutoring in English and Maths.
The three of us have a great relationship. We call ourselves a little team, we all work together to help around the house, help with schoolwork and look after the dog. He feels comfortable discussing intimate and personal things about himself. We are thrilled that we have become the people in his life that he trusts and feels so comfortable with. We share different hobbies and activities. He and I will bake together, go shopping, and have days out, whereas he and Toni will do fun activities like VR experiences and gaming. We enjoy our solo times together, but we enjoy our family time together even more, such as bowling, cinema and escape rooms, which we try to do at least once a week.
I would encourage LGBT couples who are considering fostering to enquire. Being part of the LGBT community shouldn’t make a difference, however it does make you different, and that is great because not all children are the same either. There is no judgement or criticism towards LGBT couples fostering and there are so many children in care that need the love, nurture and stability in their lives that you can give. We have made friends for life through TACT and look forward to our future with them.
Visit our myth-busting LGBTQ+ Fostering page.