Steven and Dean’s story: fostering as a same-sex couple
The couple started the process of becoming foster parents twice, having to stop their assessment the first time as the timing wasn’t right for them. They knew they wanted to commit to fostering though, as they felt they had the space in their hearts and their home to be able to offer a child or young person a safe, loving and healthy home.
Steven and Dean had not parented before becoming foster parents, but they had lots of experience with their nieces and nephews, as well as through their work with teenagers and young people doing apprenticeships. They had a good understanding of the need to keep children safe through the safeguarding parts of their jobs. The couple both also have personal experience of family traumas and the impact trauma can have on young people, which has helped them empathise with and understand parts of what children who have been taken in to care are feeling or going through.
Since being approved in 2019, Steven and Dean have looked after two children. They supported the first child to move back to their family. Their second child recently changed from living with them on a short term basis to being a permanent member of their foster family and will live with Steven and Dean until 18 at least.
Both Steven and Dean work as well as foster, Steven runs his own chandlery business and Dean works as an NVQ Assessor. Both jobs fit in well with their fostering older children and fostering long term, when there are not as many meetings and family time sessions as there would be for short term foster carers looking after babies and younger children.
“We love being foster parents, and seeing the child develop and grow into their best selves. Our current child’s teacher complimented us on how the child is now so happy to be at school, always first in line, school work done with a big smile on their face. It makes us feel so proud that this wee person has become part of our family and has achieved things they hadn’t before because we’ve helped them. We’re still in contact with the mum of the first child we looked after, she’s on her own and has 3 children. We meet up (when we’re allowed) and love still being part of their lives as positive male role models.”
A new and exciting development for Steven and Dean is that they have become the first Mockingbird hub home carers for Bradford Fostering. The Fostering Network’s Mockingbird programme is a different way of providing foster care using a peer support model, a bit like an extended family. Steven and Dean’s caring natures and nurturing skills have stood them in good stead to be chosen to provide peer support to a group of foster families, in what is known as a constellation, as well as fun activities, like sleepovers, craft and homework clubs and days out, to the children in the constellation; building and developing relationships with everyone through regular meet ups and social activities.
Steven and Dean are keen to recommend fostering to other LGBT+ people and said,
“Don’t worry that your sexual orientation or gender identity will stop you from fostering and don't be put off from finding out more about fostering. We don’t feel we’ve been treated any differently to any other fostering family, either during the assessment or now as approved foster carers. We feel just as valued and respected as every other fostering family working with Bradford Fostering.”
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