Same-sex adopter in Q&A to mark start of LGBT Adoption & Fostering Week
Published: 03.03.17Adoption UK marks the start of LGBT Adoption & Fostering Week (6-12 March) by talking to our former helpline adviser Sarah Mills about the realities of being a same-sex adoptive parent.
The week is run by New Family Social, the UK support group for LGBT adopters and foster carers. New Family Social will hold two information seminars specifically for LGBT people, in Manchester on 9 March and central London on 10 March.
Sarah and her partner Jo are parents to Harriet and James. They live in Oxfordshire.
Can you tell us when you first considered adopting and did you also look at other options?
We adopted our children in 2011. I’d been with Jo for about three years at the time. We’d had a conversation about having children and agreed it was something we wanted to do. We did look at other options but we didn’t go in to them too deeply as we both had experience of working with children – my partner had previously worked with children with disabilities whereas I was working in a residential school in education at the time.
Do you feel any hurdles were placed in your way that may not necessarily have been there, were you heterosexual?
No. Each individual has their own personality so it doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight. A positive about being a same-sex couple is that adoption was our first choice so we hadn’t previously gone through failed IVF treatment.
Can you tell us about the reaction from society in relation to you being a same-sex adopter?
There have been some challenges. It’s mainly because some people make assumptions. I do find I constantly have to come out to other parents at our children’s school.But generally the reaction is positive and we have not experienced any negative reactions since we have adopted, nor have the children.
What does it mean to you to be an adoptive mother to your children – can you imagine life without them?
No I can’t imagine life without my children! I wouldn’t change it for the world. All I want to do is give them the best chance to grow into kind, thoughtful, good people and for them to know they’re loved and valued. To be able to help them develop and give them a chance that they may not have otherwise experienced is very rewarding.
What would be your message to members of the LGBT community who are considering adopting a child?
If this is something you really want to do then just go for it! Ask lots of questions, read up on adoption literature and don’t be put off because you think you’ll be treated differently. In terms of the process, I’d say just be yourself and don’t feel like you’re being interrogated. The thing I found hardest was talking to a stranger (social worker) about things I’d not even spoken about with my partner – how I was parented (which was very well). You’re asked some personal questions but you have to remember this is in the best interests of the child who is being placed. Just remember they’re trying to establish if you’ll be able to take on and manage a child who may have experienced trauma and/or neglect. It’s the same whatever your sexuality.
What’s the one thing you’d like heterosexuals to know about being a same-sex adoptive parent?
We want to give a child who was previously not safe, a chance in life. With this in mind, does it matter if the adoptive parents are same-sex?
What are your thoughts about the proportion of same-sex couples adopting in England rising to an all-time high of one-in-ten in 2016?
I think the figure of one-in-ten is still quite low in comparison to heterosexual adoptions.
Why should adopters, or prospective adopters, from the LGBT community join Adoption UK?
The main selling point of Adoption UK is the fantastic community of adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents who you can interact with on the online forums and the helpline which you can access as a member should you need confidential, peer-to-peer advice.