This week we spoke with Daniel Warner, the Adoption Services Development Officer from the St David’s Children’s Society to discuss all things LGBTQ+ adoption.
To hear more from Daniel and the rest of our amazing panel, watch our Pride Cymru Webinar - Proud Families: Supporting the LGBTQ+ community through adoption
What is your background? How long have you been involved in adoption?
I’ve been working with St David’s Children Society for almost six years and before that I worked for Barnardo’s where I was initially employed as a social work assistant. My job means that I’m there for adopters at every stage of the process - from when they first pick up the phone right through to supporting them with the transition period once they’ve been matched with their child.
Why do you like working in adoption?
For me, the best part is being able to see people’s journeys from that anxious first phone call right through to when their lives have been transformed and they’ve achieved their dream of starting a family. It’s an amazing thing!
What is St David’s Children Society?
We’re the longest serving adoption agency in Wales and have been going since 1942. As well as Barnardo’s, we are a voluntary adoption agency and part of the National Adoption Service which also consists of five regional adoption collaboratives and Adoption UK. We’re based in the centre of Cardiff, but we recruit, assess and support adopters from all across Wales.
Do many people from the LGBTQ+ community adopt?
Yes, they do. St David’s Children Society have a one in five rate of LGBTQ+ adopters, and the national average is one in seven. This is something that we’re really proud of.
Does being an LGBTQ+ adopter hinder your chance of adoption?
Not by any means at all. In fact, it’s widely accepted and encouraged within adoption. The increasing numbers of LGBTQ+ adopters across UK means that you will see lots of other LGBTQ+ adopters on any information evening or training course you attend. It’s not a barrier anymore and thankfully, more and more people who identify as LGBTQ+ now realise that.
How does the matching process work? How do you make sure that adopters are matched with the right child for them?
Throughout the adoption assessments, work is constantly happening between a social worker and prospective adopters to work out the right child for them with a range of factors considered including age, gender, and the number of children a parent is looking to adopt. There is also lots of consideration about the child, and what’s best for them too. Lots of scrutiny goes into this process and this means that once you are approved, your social worker will have a clear idea about a match that works for both the child and adoptive parents. This doesn’t differ from a heterosexual family and the process is completely the same.
Will LGBTQ+ children be bullied in school because their family is different?
We can’t control what happens when the placement has been made, but schools know how to manage these kinds of attitudes much better today. Children can be accepting and the more that LGBTQ+ people have come to adopt – it has become more normalised. For example, by seeing more LGBTQ+ couples at the school gates. From my experiences of speaking with LGBTQ+ adopters and as we heard from one of the adoptive parents on the webinar, most adoptive children grow up feeling really proud to be from an LGBTQ+ family.
Is it confusing for an adopted child to have two dads or two mums? If they already feel different due to being adopted, would having same sex parents exacerbate their differences?
What’s really important to remember here is that all children who move from foster homes to adoptive homes are faced with a big transition. We do lots of work to prepare them for this – through videos and pictures about where they’re moving to. At this point, the fact they’re moving on to adoption is exciting and their main focus - so moving into a house with two mums or two dads is secondary. We’ve found that actually, children are a lot more accepting than adults can be and lots of these anxieties lie with the parents.
Is the adoption process different for LGBTQ+ adopters?
Absolutely not, it’s exactly the same.
Would a HIV+ status prevent someone from adopting?
No, it shouldn’t do. All adopters are subject to a medical during their assessment so that we can understand their suitability to adopt. The timing of when you adopt is really important and you need to be able to focus on adoption at this time – this extends to any major medical treatments that you may experience.
What are LGBTQ+ adopters entitled to, in terms of adoption/maternity/paternity leave?
In terms of statuary leave, we always encourage people to visit the Government website where this is all available. It’s also worth speaking with your employer to see what else you’re entitled to – like extended paternity leave/shared paternity leave.
DO LGBTQ+ adopters receive support from other LGBTQ+ adoptive families who have been through the process?
Definitely. All agencies run regular support groups where families are invited. It’s a great opportunity for families to mingle and share experiences. We always buddy families up as they’re being assessed with those from similar backgrounds and experiences who have already adopted. This allows them to widen their support network and know what to expect. There are also other wider organisations that are designed to specially cater for LGBTQ+ adopters such as New Family Social – a UK wide organisation that most adoption agencies are partners with.
Have you got any advice for LGBTQ+ couples who are considering adoption?
My biggest piece of advice is to pick up the phone or send an email. You’re not committed to anything by sending that first email, so be curious and ask questions. At this early stage, no question is an easy question so just find out as much as you can. I can guarantee there will be a friendly voice on the other end of the phone who just wants to help!
To find out more about how to contact St David’s Children Society and the other adoption agencies across Wales, visit: https://www.adoptcymru.com/contact