Families In All Shapes and Sizes

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Families in all shapes and sizes

As one of the oldest children’s charities in the UK, action for children has supported the country’s most vulnerable children for 145 years, helping them to have the childhood they deserve

Every day we have been, and continue to be, at the forefront of childhoods — stepping in to make sure that every child is safe and has a loving home. This started in 1869 with children’s homes – you may remember us as National Children’s Home or NCH. But as we have grown the numbers of children that need our support has continued to grow; we now work with 300,000 children, young people and their families every year.

Action for Children has kept up with the urgent demand by using our expertise to develop pioneering children’s services to continue to always be there for children. For example, we created the first adoption service to be run by a charity, way back in 1926. Since that first day we have seen huge changes in how children need to be helped and how families are formed.

One of the main achievements, and one that we are incredibly proud to help celebrate, is that England and Wales is now ten years on from allowing same-sex couples to apply for joint adoption.

For a decade families have been coming in all shapes and sizes and Action for Children couldn’t be prouder. The results speak volumes and the number of children finding a loving home and being adopted by LGBT parents has grown year on year; in fact,  480 children were adopted by same-sex couples last year.

But sadly, while we celebrate the amazing achievements, we are still hearing that people don’t realise that they can foster or adopt. Our research discovered that one in three[i] (36%) of LGBT people still believe that sexuality is still a barrier to becoming a parent.

We also discovered that one in four[ii] LGBT people (25%) have been told they should not be a parent – often by their own family. Ten years on there’s still work that needs to be done and we need to ensure that everyone who has always had a craving desire to become a parent isn’t afraid to act on it.

There are now more children than ever before in the care system; at 68,840 that’s 780 more children than last year. Whilst the figure is rising we are also experiencing a shortfall of a more than 8,000 foster carers and 5,000 adoptive parents this year.

These children have gone through things no child should ever have to experience and they are all waiting for mummies and daddies to feel safe and loved and to belong to a real family.

We need your help.

We would like you to help with two things; first and foremost if you would like to become a parent or foster carer get in touch and we will be with you there every step of the way of your exciting journey.

Secondly, we need you to help us dispel the myths. Incredibly if just 1% of the LGBT community adopt or foster, this could plug the gap and ensure every child has a loving home. So please spread the word. Do what you can and we will be able to continue giving every child the childhood they deserve.

For more information visit actionforchildren.org.uk.

[i] 36% of the LGBT community thought that their sexuality would be a barrier to becoming a parent (this rises to 40% for actual adopters and 43% those considering fostering). Found by surveying New Family Social members in February 2014, 400 people took part.

[ii] 25% of the LGBT community have been told they shouldn’t be a parent (this rises to 30% for actual adopters and 33% for actual foster carers). Found by surveying New Family Social members in February 2014, 400 people took part.

Tracy and Jenny

Tracy Davison and Jenny Godbold were one of the first same-sex couples in Scotland to become foster carers in 2009 and they are urging people to understand more, as thousands of children and young people desperately need homes.

Tracy and Jenny, together since 1997, moved to the remote Isle of Skye in 2000. Moving there,  the island was their dream and they hoped to open a small unit to work with families to help support them. But the recession hit and this part of their dream wasn’t able to become a reality.

Still desperate to help families and young people, Tracy and Jenny thought about fostering but at this time it wasn’t legal in Scotland for same-sex couples to either adopt or foster. However, just months later, the Scottish government legalised same-sex adoption and fostering and they immediately got in touch with Action for Children.

small Jenny & Tracey

Tracy, who has taken the role of primary carer, says: “When we were applying to become carers, even though it had just become legal, we were a little apprehensive, especially as there was no one else in the same situation as us. But we thought if we never try we will never know so we decided to take this journey on together.”Jenny says: “We have been fostering for four years and seeing the transformation in the children is remarkable. We have been able to ensure the children take on their own responsibility and build up trust between us. Getting the stability, love and support is essential in foster care.”

“It’s been a learning curve for us all as it’s quite demanding and has taken time. We did doubt ourselves and wondered if we could do this, but after 12 months of assessments, which are so important, the family we have now made it all worth it” Jenny adds.

Tracy said: “For anyone who is having doubts of being a foster carer, we would recommend you to speak with Action for Children and you will find that all of your doubts will be answered. Anyone can do it and I would say that it has been the best job I have ever done. Nobody should be afraid, as long as you can provide a safe, secure and loving environment it really is worth it.”

For more information visit actionforchildren.org.uk