Same sex couple Garry and Kyle Ratcliffe have been awarded an Attitude Pride Award for providing forever homes to their four children with complex needs.

The first gay male couple to foster through their local authority in Kent, Garry and Kyle are now parents to Haydn, 14, seven-year-old Curtis, and sisters Bella, 11, and Phoebe, six (all pictured above). Haydn has severe cerebral palsy; Curtis is blind and also has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, scoliosis (an abnormal curvature of the spine) and hip dysplasia, while Bella has Down’s Syndrome. Phoebe is physically able-bodied but suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Adoption UK members Garry and Kyle featured in Adoption Today magazine after their home on the Isle of Sheppey was transformed by Nick Knowles and the team in BBC’s DIY SOS The Big Build team in 2016.

Fellow AUK member Ben Carpenter (pictured below) also recently received a British Citizen Award for Service to Education, for helping to eradicate the many myths that exist around adoption – especially within the LGBT community.

When he started his adoption journey 12-years ago, Ben was the youngest gay adopter in the UK. Now, the single dad has four children, all of whom have special needs: Ten-year-old Jack is autistic with autism-related OCD. Ruby, seven, has Pierre Robin syndrome (a condition in which an infant has a smaller than normal lower jaw, a tongue that falls back in the throat, and difficulty breathing), scoliosis and limited use of her arms as a result of missing radius bones and is registered blind. Lily, Ruby’s five-year-old biological half-sister, is profoundly deaf and uses British Sign Language (BSL) to communicate.

Most recently adopted three-year-old Joseph has Down’s syndrome and uses a colostomy bag. Ben is currently considering adopting child number five.

The 33 year-old, from Huddersfield, is committed to educating people about child adoption. He is a panel Member and Media Advocate for the UK Adoption Service.

The British Citizen Awards (BCAs) were launched in 2015, to recognise exceptional individuals who work tirelessly and selflessly to make a positive impact on society.

Adoption UK’s chief executive, Dr Sue Armstrong Brown, said: “When it comes to a child’s development, it’s not the sexual orientation or gender of their parent(s) that’s important. Rather, the resilience of those individuals and the quality of the family relationships are what really matter. Through our engagement with our members, we find that same sex adopters are often among the most willing to consider adopting harder-to-place children such as those who are older, are part of a sibling group or have special needs.

“In 2017, around one in ten (420) children were adopted in England by same sex couples so it’s important to acknowledge the huge contribution that gay adopters make in parenting some of the most vulnerable children in our society.”