Date: 5th March 2018
Martin was placed with his TACT foster carers Gary and Adrian when he was 15 years old, and has continued to live with them since leaving care. As part of LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week 2018, he’s shared his story of living in a family who accepted him for who he was.
I went into care straight from the hospital after I was born. As a little child, I had three different carers, but I only remember one. When I was two, I returned to my birth family for seven years. However, my father died and my mother wasn’t handling it well and couldn’t take care of me and my five siblings. Therefore, aged 9, I went back into care for the rest of my childhood.
My twin brother and I were placed together with a married couple. I lived there for six years, but I was not happy. When I told my foster carer I am gay, she was not very understanding. As I couldn’t be myself, I used to be very quiet. By the end, I had my bags packed for several months, waiting for a different foster family who would accept me the way I am.
Eventually, and very fortunately, I was placed with TACT (The Adolescent and Children’s Trust) foster carers Gary and Adrian, a same sex couple, when I was 15. I still remember the first day, how they greeted me at their home in Tonyrefail, Wales, and showed me to my bright orange bedroom and as we had our first meal together I felt immediately relaxed. Only a few days later, my school’s head of year rang to tell my carers how he couldn’t believe the positive change in me. The fact that I was able to express myself has made life a lot easier for me. Now I consider myself to be an open, positive, easy-going person.
Gary and Adrian don’t treat me as a child in care, but as a member of the family. At Gary’s birthday party we took a family photo of us and all Gary’s and Adrian’s current and former foster children. It felt great to be part of such a big, happy family.
Some of my most treasured memories with Gary and Adrian are attending my school prom together and shopping for my suit beforehand. I was the only one at the prom wearing a purple suit. They also supported me during school awards, when I received an award in art for my sculptures. My best friend and I won the same award together because the judges couldn’t decide who deserved it the most. It was a nice day and I was glad I could share it with my family.
I am attending a catering college at the moment and still have four years ahead of me. I really love cooking and often cook together with Gary and Adrian in the house.
Another one of my passions is helping people. I would really like to use my experience of being in care to mentor looked after young people and children, encouraging them to talk through their difficulties and offering them advice to help them overcome problems. I often help Gary and Adrian’s other foster child aged 15, who came into the house as a very angry young man, but is now doing much better.
I turned 18 recently, and although I can now move on into independent living, I have decided to stay with Gary and Adrian under the ‘When I am Ready’ scheme which in Wales gives young people the right to stay with their foster families beyond the age of 18. Therefore, leaving care was really just another normal day for me. My decision to stay was influenced by their former foster child, who voluntarily left care before turning 18, but now regrets it very much as he really misses living with Gary and Adrian. We get along very well as he still has a key to the house and often pops in for a chat and a cup of tea.
I hope to stay with my foster carers until I turn 25. They listen to me, respect me and help me in life. With them, I can be myself.