To mark LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week between 5-11 March, Christian and Christopher, share their fostering story. The couple live in Leeds and will be getting married this May. They have been fostering for two years.
Chris and I met at work in the aviation industry. I offered him a lift home one day and that was it, he never went home. We’re like best mates and we’re getting married at the big 1940’s vintage weekend in West Yorkshire. We’ve invited about 240 people and it is going to be a very camp affair. There will be land girls, I’ll be wearing a 1940’s army uniform and Chris will be in a RAF officer uniform.
We’d been together a year when we had a conversation about wanting children. We talked about adoption but decided to foster because we want to change many lives, not just one or two. We enquired the following year and were approved to foster at the end of 2015.
We thought that being gay would be an issue but I can hand on heart say it has not at all. We have been treated with respect and understanding every step of the way. We had big reservations and doubts and wondered whether people would question why two men were fostering. But it was all in our heads. And thankfully you get the chance to talk it over with a social worker and we were totally put at ease.
Fostering has changed my life. I had a good job that paid well and was starting to think that life was all about work. After we got the first short term placement, I stopped work to be a full time carer. We have settled down as a couple and both feel that we have a purpose in life.
If I had been told when I was younger that my life would be like this, I wouldn’t have believed you – my dream was to be an actor and now I am a stay at home husband. I would not change it for the world. The only regret I have is that my mum never got to meet the kids because she died in 2016. She was disappointed I was gay because she thought she wasn’t going to get grandkids. I think she would have been proud of me and the difference we have made to these children’s lives.
As we had no parental experience, we were approved for respite placements first. They happen at weekends or during holidays and are a really great way to get into fostering. We had a couple of kids who were apparently quite challenging but we never experienced that behaviour. We were like the fun uncles – we’d take them out and had a great time.
We are approved for five to 18-year-olds and when we tell people that we foster teenagers they always say ‘you’re brave’ or ‘you must be mad’. The way I look at it is everyone is human; no matter what age, every child matters in the world – why turn your back just because they are older?
Our foster children started on short term placements; one is now with us long term and we are going through the process to extend the other. We are all happy living with each other so it worked out to give the first child the stability to stay with us and feel part of our family until they are 18. Social services said we’ve made such a difference in the second child’s life that they want our home to be the forever home.
It is a great feeling to see the difference you are making, watch the children grow in confidence, and know that they trust you and can talk to you about anything and not be judged. It’s fantastic to know that you are changing someone’s life for the better, that they are safe and have all the support and encouragement they need. It humbles us that they live with us after what they have been through.
Each day is different and there are challenges but our house and family dynamics have changed for the better. Before the kids came, we didn’t have a routine, we worked opposite shifts and had to almost book an appointment to sit down and watch telly together.
Now no-one works until 3am and we have structure; we get up together, Chris goes to work, the kids go to school and then when the day ends we sit down as a family. The one thing we do in this house is eat together and talk about our day, all of us. The kids hate it cos we have to turn the TV off but I remember my parents giving us time and I treasure that. I want the kids to look back and appreciate that they were given the space to talk.
We love going out to the National Trust – it’s a great place to take the kids. We go rollerblading as a family and the kids absolutely love it. We love TV and watch Saturday Night Take Away, Strictly, Dancing on Ice and action movies. One boy will watch Star Trek with Chris and the other one won’t, like me. We have almost become normal, whatever normal is…
Fostering is not for everyone. But if you have a heart for making a difference and a secure home life, then why not offer that to someone else? As a gay man, I was really hung up about not having kids. But fostering means I get the chance to be a father figure to disadvantaged children and that is the best feeling in the world.
CoramBAAF is an independent membership organisation for professionals, foster carers and adopters, and anyone else working with or looking after children in or from care. You can visit their website here. It supports Capstone Foster Care, Christian’s fostering agency.
Find out more about LGBT Fostering and Adoption Week here.