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Lifestyle: Fostering & Adoption

Thu 14 Nov, 2013
By Darren Waite

Becoming a dad was the biggest and best decision of my life. I have no regrets what so ever"

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GAY Fostering and Adoption

GAY Fostering and Adoption

I have worked with many a social worker who has personally believed that outcomes for children are greatly affected by same-sex parenting and have therefore avoided the route of pursuing gay adoption as best they could

Study shows kids with lesbian parents do well

When compared to teens of the same age, adolescents raised by lesbian parents are doing just fine socially, psychologically and academically, new research finds. Not only that, they have fewer social problems, and less aggressive and rule-breaking behaviors than other teens.

The 10 step guide to Fostering and Adoption

Since its launch in 1997 by the BAAF, NAW has grown and become stronger each year, reaching people across the UK wanting to know if they are eligible for adoption.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Adoption & Fostering Week 20-26 February

Events are being organised across the UK as part of the country’s first-ever LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week. It comes as gay adopters and foster carers are being hailed by social workers for their significant strengths in a survey commissioned by New Family Social, the LGBT network coordinating the week.

The 10 step guide to Fostering and Adoption

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National Adoption Week runs 4-10th November 2013
Since its launch in 1997 by the BAAF, NAW has grown and become stronger each year, reaching people across the UK wanting to know if they are eligible for adoption.

The focus of the campaign is to encourage people to come forward and adopt children who wait the longest, the harder to place children – sibling groups, children with disabilities, children aged 5 years and over and children from some black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

For every year a child waits, adoption becomes 20% less likely

So what is adoption? It is the legalisation of all parental rights and responsibilities being transferred from the family a child was born into to the adoptive family.

This is the process for the child to be a legal part of the new family. Adoptive families have grown with society and gay, single, disabled and older parents are all included in the adoption community.

The British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) spoke about their experience with the changes to adoption and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LBGT) community over the last few years:

In England, members of the LGBT community have always been allowed to adopt as a single person, but it was not until the Adoption & Children Act 2002 (which was fully implemented in 2005) were LGBT couples and unmarried heterosexual couples legally able to adopt together

The latest figures from the Department for Education show that 160 children have been adopted by same sex couples in the past year (Mar 2012 – Mar 2013). This is really encouraging, especially as we know through our experience that members of the LGBT community can make fantastic parents. This is backed up by the research ‘Gay, Lesbian and Heterosexual Adoptive Families’ Golombok et al which found that LGBT adoptive parents show high levels of psychological wellbeing, the majority of children in these families adjust well at school, make friends and they establish good relationships in their new families’.

However, many people still don’t realise that they are able to adopt as a same sex couple. And being gay is not the only reason why people rule themselves out. Other myths persist about who can and cannot adopt, none of which are true. You don’t need to be under forty years old to adopt – there is no upper age limit; you don’t need to own your own home or be rich and being overweight doesn’t automatically rule you out. If you are over 21, you can apply to be assessed as an adopter.

Brett Griffin-Young, a father of a surrogate son and adopted daughter has been with his partner Matthew for 12 years. He offered his advice to anyone looking to adopt:
“Finding a child can be one of the biggest obstacles. However, no obstacle you will encounter is that big or insurmountable. They will vary dependant on the couple and how they cope. All I will say is hang in there. It can be tough at times but try to stay focussed on the end goal.
“Becoming a dad was the biggest and best decision of my life. I have no regrets what so ever. Life actually feels like it has real meaning now. Just do it!”
Mr Griffin-Young also advices of the legal work that needs to be considered when looking to adopt:
“There is a ton of work that needs to be done. Having said that if you use a reputable agency to help with your adoption the legal work is pretty much done for you. Also in our experience, private agencies seem more “human” than County Councils. Although that varies according to county! The county council our daughter came from were AMAZING! But we have some lesbian friends who used a neighbouring County Council and after 3 years of “hell” they were matched with a gorgeous little 18 month old boy!”

69% (2,740) of children were placed for adoption within 12 months of an agency decision that the child should be placed for adoption during the year ending 31st March 2013, compared to 72% (2,480) in 2012.

You want to adopt but don’t know where to start?
There is a 10 step guide to adoption created by the BAAF to help people in your situation:

STEP ONE – express your interest.
Contact your local authority or voluntary adoption agency. Don’t be afraid to speak to more than one agency; they do all work to agreed standards and are all inspected regularly. However, you can only officially register with one.

STEP TWO – preparing to adopt.
Once you have expressed your interest you will be asked to fill in the necessary forms and be invited to an information event to speak to social workers and adopters this could also be done as a 1:1 meeting. If you still think adoption is right for you this is the step you choose the agency you wish to take you through the process. In England this is a two stage process:
Stage 1: Covering the basics – you will need to supply references and undergo a medical (you don’t need to be perfect). You will attend a preparation group and be given an insight into adoption. Once you pass the checks you will be invited to start stage two, this should take no more than two months but you can set your own pace.

STEP THREE – being assessed.
The formal assessment/home study is required by law and carried out by your social worker. This process is known as:
Stage 2: The social worker will visit you at home and talk to you more about adoption, what kind of child you are most suited to and your overall suitability. You will attend training to prepare you for adoption. This takes around four months.

STEP FOUR– the panel
You will be invited to attend the presentation of the report written up by the social worker and given to an adoption panel. The panel makes the recommendations but it is the agency that will approve you.

STEP FIVE – being linked with a child.
This may have already happened before your official approval as there are so many children waiting for adoption. If a good match is not found you can attend Exchange Days, Adoption Activity Days and national family finding services like the BAAF’s Be My Parent or Adoption UK’s Children Who Wait.

STEP SIX– perfect match
A connection has been made, you will be given information on the child or children, and this includes:
• Family background
• History of their early years
• Why the child came into care
• Their characteristics
• Any needs the child may have.

Once you have agreed a match then you will attend a matching panel. They will decide whether or not to recommend the match.

STEP SEVEN – meeting your child
At this stage you may have already seen a video of your child or even played with them at an Adoption Activity Day. However, formal inductions will only be made when a match is approved. The first meetings with the child will be meticulously planned for the welfare of the child. They may include a visit to the foster carers home and plan outings, the child will visit your home and plans for an overnight stay will be implemented. Gradually you and the child are getting to know each other then they will move in as soon as all are ready.

STEP EIGHT – moving in.
Many people has described this time as exciting and daunting for everyone concerned. Most important thing to remember is that this marks the beginning of your new life together as a family. You will be entitled to statutory adoption leave and pay and will have continued support from your social worker.

STEP NINE – making it legal
The final legal step. After waiting just nine more weeks you can apply for an adoption order through the courts. Once this is obtained you are legally the child parent(s) and they can take your surname.

Adoption support will continually be available when and if you need help. This is the time to enjoy your new family. Parenting is one of the most rewarding jobs in life and you will experience the highs and lows, just remember there is always someone there to help.

by Rochelle Royal
Content & Online PR Executive


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