There still exists a harmful stereotype that if you come out as LGBTI, you’re waving goodbye to parenthood.
So to celebrate the start of LGBTI Adoption and Fostering week in the UK today (4 March), these parents want to show they’re smashing stereotypes about creating their very own rainbow families. This year’s theme is Seven Days to Love.
Whether that’s through adoption or fostering, LGBTI parents can do it just as well as their straight counterparts.
In fact, a recent study found gay dads are actually more active in parenting than straight men.
‘We learned that gay fathers’ sharing of tasks is very equitable,’ study lead Éric Feugé told the Montreal Gazette. ‘There was a high degree of engagement in all types of parental roles.’
He then added: ‘[Gay dads] have a larger palette than [men in] traditional heterosexual families.
So without further ado, meet some everyday LGBTI parents proving their sexual identity and gender identity doesn’t hold them back from starting a family.
Paul and Graham
Paul and Graham adopted two boys, nine and five years old.
They went through adoption service Coram – one of the largest independent adoption agencies in the UK – to adopt their two boys.
Paul said: ‘I remember when I first came out at university… I remember someone saying to me at the time: “It’s a shame you won’t be a parent“.
‘I remember being in the bar at university and saying: “Actually, no – just because I’m gay, that doesn’t mean I won’t be a parent”,’ he said.
The pair said adopting their two boys has ‘changed their lives completely’.
Trans dad Alex adopted his boy at just 18 months old.
He said: ‘The qualities you need to be an adoptive parent are resilience, tenacity, the ability to have a good laugh at yourself and to do things you never imagined you might do, but you give it a try anyway,’ he told New Family Social.
Alex then said: ‘If you’re trans and you think you can’t adopt, well think again.’
‘Just get out there and talk to an agency,’ he said.
Sue and Fay
Sue and Fay, from Essex, have been permanent foster carers for Andrea, who has cerebral palsy, since she was two and a half.
Fay said: ‘So many children are in need of good homes and we really wanted to help make a difference to a child’s life.’
Sue then said: ‘Nothing can prepare you for becoming a parent, but fostering Andrea is extremely rewarding for us as a family. We couldn’t imagine life without her.’
The pair went through Barnardo’s – a service that helps hundreds of thousands of children, young people, parents and carers across the UK.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said in a statement: ‘At Barnardo’s, we find loving families for vulnerable children in communities across the UK, and we give foster carers and adopters the training and support they need.’
As a foster carer to two boys, Sherwin says it’s incredibly rewarding.
‘For anyone who’s thinking about becoming a foster carer, I say go for it,’ he said. ‘Some people might be scared of being judged but for me, if you have the space, time and space in your heart for children, children don’t really see differences.
‘They just want that person to be consistent and show them love,’ he said.
Mandy and Louise
Mandy and Louise, from Nottinghamshire, adopted a brother and sister duo.
Alice was two and a half when they adopted her and now she’s just started school, while Max was just over a year old.
‘We couldn’t have children, so we thought the next best thing was to adopt,’ Mandy said. ‘There can be a lot of misinterpretation and misunderstanding around same-sex couples of even single people not being able to adopt.’
She then continued: ‘I do think the news is slowly getting out there. Being in touch with other adopters is really, really important.’
George and Martin
In July 2014, George and Martin, from London, adopted two boys – aged three and four.
George said: ‘It’s possibly the biggest challenge you will ever undertake but it’s so worth it. We are so pleased we adopted two brothers – they are an incredible duo with a fierce loyalty to each other and such a strong bond.
‘This is the most life changing decision you can make and to be honest you do have to make a leap of faith,’ he said.
50-year-old Jackie has been married to her partner for 17 years and has three ‘lovely’ children.
Her wife gave birth to their first two children, but they wanted to adopt one more child. They adopted him when he was just 14 months old and now he’s seven.
‘What I would say is that it is really hard sometimes when you have your dark moments,’ Jackie said. ‘But it’s worth it. It really is.
‘You see them develop, you see them feel safe, you see them feel secure. When they call your house their home, it feels like you’ve done the right thing,’ she said.
Listen to her full adoption story: