L GBT+ parenting has never been more visible, whether on the news, in shows like Emmerdale, or at the school gate as increasing numbers of same-sex couples share the school run. In 2018 a record 1 in 8 adoptions in England were to same-sex couples.

But there’s an increasing and urgent need for more LGBT+ people to consider adoption. According to figures released by First4Adoption, in the North West alone there are currently 147 children waiting to be adopted. In the same region there’s just 57 approved adoptive families. The story’s the same across England, whether in London, Leeds, Liverpool or Lewes – the need is far greater than the number of approved adopters.

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So there’s no better time to start exploring whether adoption’s for you. Adoption agencies are keen to talk to potential parents, with many now recognising that LGBT+ people bring a distinct set of skills that can be invaluable for parenting. Many children awaiting adoption have had a chaotic start in life and they all need a permanent forever family. Of course, adoption isn’t easy. It’s challenging and not right for everyone. It will totally transform both your and your child’s lives, as you adapt and grow together and you help them understand their place and value in the world.

If you’re ready to take the first step, to find out more about what the process entails you can either attend a local information session or contact a nearby adoption agency. You can find information on both on New Family Social’s website, with only those that offer dedicated support to LGBT+ adopters listed. It’s important to follow your instincts and go on the adoption journey with an agency you trust. New Family Social strongly recommends that you speak to a number of agencies before making your choice. Any agency keen to work with you should be able to tell you how many other LGBT+ people they are working with or have successfully placed children with. If there’s no LGBT+ representation on their website, in their literature or in their introductory talks, it’s worth asking why. There’s a robust and investigative adoption assessment process, with most agencies aiming to have applicants approved to adopt and ready to family-find at the end of a six-month period.

No two agencies are exactly the same and there are differences between local authority-run agencies and those run by the voluntary sector.

New Family Social

New Family Social

Key to both are the staff who’ll assess and approve you, so bear that in mind. And talk to your wider friendship group, as any adoptive parent can give a unique perspective on the process and what parenting’s like.

You can also join New Family Social’s peer support group to ask questions anonymously to others who’ve been in your situation.

If adoption isn’t right for you, fostering might be. You can still transform the lives of children, but instead do so without necessarily providing care every day – some foster carers provide respite care at the weekends for full-time foster carers. Whichever path you follow, its success depends on it being the right route for you.

You can hear audio clips from LGBT+ adopters on New Family Social’s website.

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