Same-sex foster parents Craig, 31, and Byron, 34, reflect upon their first year of fostering.
Byron previously worked as a youth worker, and Craig has been a school governor for the past 12 years. Craig explains; “I have always loved being involved in the education of young people.”
Craig continues; “However, being in a same-sex relationship means we can’t naturally conceive ourselves, but we are lucky enough to have a lot of nieces, nephews and godchildren that we really enjoy spending time with and looking after. It was after this that we then started to explore different avenues towards fostering vulnerable children.”
Craig explains; “I spoke to a friend at work, and she recommended Fosterplus to us, and after getting to know the team, we then decided to go for it!”
The couple made the big step to becoming full-time foster parents one year ago and have since cared for an 11-year-old boy.
Byron believes that fostering comes naturally to the pair, as he explains; “We have a great, natural relationship with our child and there are rules and boundaries in place. We are really fortunate to be in the place we are in!”
Craig and Byron have seen their child develop into a happier, more confident young boy in recent months; “It has been amazing to see his development over the last twelve months. He has grown from strength to strength into a happy, confident young person. His aura and his demeanour are so different now and for us, that’s amazing. He is quite an independent young person and it’s just been fantastic to see him so happy.”
Byron adds that a recent parents evening was great for the couple to attend; “Hearing at the parents evening the amount of growth and improvement he has made since being with us is amazing, he actively plays a part in the classroom and is now a star pupil. We are just so very proud!”
There have been many incredible moments during the couple's fostering journey, as Craig and Byron explain; “Christmas, Easter and birthdays have been lovely, very special times. Seeing his eyes light up when he has his gifts and family around him is amazing.”
Craig and Byron believe that the support they receive from Fosterplus has made all the difference to their journey; “Even from the initial assessment, someone from the agency has always been in regular contact with us making sure we are well supported and are happy. Our supervising social worker has also been fantastic as a sounding board really listening to us when we really needed her.”
But fostering as a same-sex couple doesn’t come without its challenges, as Craig explains; “Being proud gay people, we never really considered it [prejudice], but always knew that there could be that element in the background and potentially some negative opinions from people.
“However, we knew that together we would get through it and support each other as best we can. We’re also very fortunate that the young person who is with us is comfortable in the environment we provide and is more than happy to speak to us when he needs to!”
Craig continues; “Fostering is all about providing that loving environment for a young person and whether you are gay, straight, bi, transgender or any part of the LGBTQIA+ community, anybody can offer that young person a safe and loving environment.”
Byron adds; “For me personally, fostering is the best thing that I have ever done.”
Craig and Byron are hoping to be approved as carers for a sibling group in the near future whilst also continuing to take care of the young person they currently have. Craig said; “We have the space in the house and we have the time and we believe now really is the best time to create that family unit that we’ve always wanted.”
For anyone in the LGBTQIA+ community considering fostering, Craig and Byron have the following advice: “Just do it! There is nothing stopping you as long as you have the love in your heart to give a young person a safe and secure environment, it’s a fantastic opportunity and a fantastic thing to give a child a second chance. We are always happy to speak to anyone about fostering!”
1 year later...
We caught up again in June 2022, after the couple welcomed two more children into their family. The newest family members have come along in leaps and bounds since being with them. Byron shared: “We have a great, natural relationship with our children and there are rules and boundaries in place, but we have agreed them together.”
“When *Josie and *Jack arrived with us seven months ago they were inseparable. They were very dependent on each other as siblings.
We have seen a huge growth in their independence. They went from sharing a room to now choosing to stay in separate bedrooms.”
He continued: “Their attitude towards life, school, education and even each other has significantly improved. They are now confident in themselves. Teachers are also saying that they have seen a significant change in their attitudes and behaviours.”
“All three of them get on like brothers and sisters. You would never think that they came from different backgrounds. They call *Sam their big brother. My heart welled up the first time I heard it, I had to hold back the tears. *Sam is very protective over them and he is always there to support them.”
The couple further expanded on their hopes for the future, Byron said: “Craig and I are hoping to welcome *Josie and *Jack’s little four-year-old sister into our home too, so they can all be together. That would be the cherry on top, to keep the siblings together.”
Craig and Byron do all of the things that biological parents do, from supporting with homework to attending parents’ evenings, fun activities and offering any guidance their foster sons need to develop into confident adults.
If you would like to learn more about LGBTQIA+ fostering today, why not get in touch on 0800 369 8512. One of our team members would love to tell you about the process, our support package and generous foster carer pay allowances to help you decide if it's right for you. Not ready to chat yet? No problem, why not read about how to become a foster parent.
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