An Introduction to Adoption for LGBTQ+ Parents (ie. There's no difference!)
Adoption for people in same sex relationships has been legal since 2002. It has taken a long time for it to be fully embraced but, as things stand, the LGBTQ+ community have more rights than they ever have had. There is no difference between what is expected of opposite sex couples and same sex couples when it comes to adoption.
In fact, numbers for adoptions involving same sex couples have continued to rise in recent years thanks to more and more agencies realising that we are just the same as opposite sex couples. There have been comparisons in the past that relate to the way how professionals feel we have a slight advantage in that we know what it’s like to be seen as different. We start from that point so can relate to a child who will feel that every day of their life.
The process is identical and involves training to learn the differences between having a child who has been through significant trauma and having a birth child.
If you’re thinking about whether adoption is the path for you, then here’s some information that may be of use.
This is a guest post where the author has decided to remain anonymous. If you wish to ask any questions, please feel to comment below or email us at lesbemums (at) yahoo (dot) co (dot) uk.
Research Research Research
Adoption is not for the faint-hearted. It takes a lot of work, determination and sometimes just good old fashioned stubbornness. Children who are in the care system have been through hell and back and that never goes away.
My advice for anyone thinking about it is to research. A lot.
1) Read blogs from adopters, or follow them on Social Media, that show both good and bad experiences (I have listed some relevant blogs and accounts below).
2) Read books (Sally Donavon has a great one for people just looking in to it or starting the process).
3) Deal with your own trauma and/or have an action plan in place for doing so if and when it’s needed because, believe me when I say, having kids will bring even the most obscure stuff right to the surface.
4) Lastly, search for and go to open evenings for a number of agencies that are both voluntary and local authority run. Don’t discount any voluntary agency. The one we used is linked to the Catholic church and we never thought we’d go for a religious organisation but they offered everything we wanted and compared to other agencies we checked out, they were the most passionate and open about adoption as a whole.
For you, professionals will likely look at the following as a minimum:
- If you’re in a relationship, are you in a good place? Do you communicate well?
- Financially, can you afford the time off work (our agency recommends the full year adoption leave for siblings)?
- At home, do you have the room in your home for a child and all that they bring?
- Do you have a strong support network?
The approval process should take 6 months but may take longer.
Once you have been approved to adopt, it can take anything from a few weeks, to years to find a child (or children) whose needs you feel able to meet. This can include developmental needs; children you meet will likely have a developmental delay if they’re older. Are you able to deal with that? If they’ve been exposed to domestic violence, abuse, or neglect, will you be able to manage those things once they start to play out?
Once a child has been placed with you, an adoption order can then be applied for after 10 weeks. Once the adoption order is granted, a new birth certificate will be issued in the child’s new name with you listed as the parent or parents.
Let’s break the process down further…
During Stage One, there’s basic training to do that introduces you to the trauma that children in care have been through. There’s also DBS checks and adoption medicals to go through.
Stage Two involves further training, going into much further detail. You’ll also have home visits from your designated social worker who will be writing a report about you to present to the approval panel and then, hopefully, used to share information with the child(ren)’s social workers.
Stage three, family finding, is the most brutal part of the process. Your social worker will show you profiles and tell you about the events happening where profiles will be shared or where children will be in attendance. ‘Activity Days’ are like big kids parties; the children know why they’re there, but it’s done so well that they think it’s a day for playing with different people. There’s also magazines that advertise the children who are normally classified as “difficult” to place (generally children with significant behavioural problems and/or physical disabilities).
Once you have your link to a child/children, you’ll take part in events such as Life Appreciation Day whereby you meet with professionals and the child(ren)’s foster carer(s) to get a better idea of what the child(ren) are like. Sometimes, there will be an informal play date or visit somewhere where the adopters can see how the children interact.
There’s a lot of negativity out there about adoption, but the day you meet your child/children will stay with you forever.
The main thing with adoption is bearing in mind that these children have been through trauma. Even if you get a child that was removed from birth, they will still have been traumatised in some way. Babies can hear in the womb and their bodies react, which can cause issues moving forwards (for example, they can be born addicted to substances). Trauma is difficult to handle, especially if you have your own trauma, but it is 100% worth it.
I’ll never forget the way our oldest son kept looking at me and smiling on the first day, I asked him if everything was ok, his answer? “I’ve been dreaming about you.”
My all time favourite memory from our youngest son is one night when he was having a night terror (he used to wake, scream and RUN regardless of where he was), I picked him up and helped him settle again on the sofa with me. He could never speak during those moments but he eventually whispered, “I’m safe.” I cannot tell you how much that meant to me and I hope I never ever forget it.
Those moments are what make it all worth it. The moment you first hear your child call you Mummy/Mama, Daddy/Papa, Ren (or whatever name you use) is magical and regardless of whether or not you share biology with them, you can’t help but fall in love.
(A few) Adoptive Families:
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