Patrick and Jeremy adopted two boys, aged six and four. They reflect on their experience of adopting with Barnardo's.
Why did we choose Barnardo’s?
We were impressed by our initial meeting with Barnardo’s and we were aware of their longstanding reputation. The senior social worker who made the initial home visit was very clear about the adoption process and time scales, and she was great at highlighting the skills and strengths we could bring as adoptive parents. She was able to instil a sense of confidence in us.
Barnardo’s seemed to have the experience of supporting LGBT couples through the adoption process. Barnardo’s also offered family counselling sessions to help with attachment once the children moved in – this was really valuable for us.
One of the key advantages was that Barnardo's were able to give us access to children beyond the scope of our local authority.
The early stages
The supervising social worker allocated to us by Barnardo’s was supportive, knowledgeable and able to give us some very sound advice. She made what can, at times, seem like a gruelling process of becoming approved, easier by making us feel comfortable in asking questions.
Lastly, when the matching process hit a problem, the senior social worker brought considerable professionalism and influence to help us resolve the issue.
Advice to LGBT couples considering adoption
A key thing would be to spend as much time with adopted children and their LGBT parents as possible to gain a thorough understanding of some of the issues LGBT adoptive parents might face.
Childcare experience is vital when going through the matching process: voluntary work in play groups, reception classes as well as primary schools is valued by children’s social workers and it can give adoptive parents valuable insights.
We would suggest that LGBT couples speak to their families to ensure they are on-board and supportive, as they will be needed! Be prepared for advice from non-adoptive parents – it will be well meant but often wide of the mark in terms of adoptive parenting. At times you may have to be gracious, particularly as prospective LGBT adopters without your own birth children.
In addition, speak to each other a lot about your own childhood to discuss what kind of parents you want to be.
Our best conversations
The best conversation we had with our social worker was, without a doubt, about our own parents, our upbringing and our experiences as children. It was valuable in helping us both understand how children in the adoption system might be feeling.
The best conversation we had with our kids was after they'd settled and started talking to us about being a family and recognising that this was not a foster placement but a proper family. We spoke to both children about what it means to be adopted and having two dads.
The important thing to reiterate was that all families are different and that we love them, which is the most important thing.