At the National Fostering Agency, we’re hugely proud of our foster carers from the LBGT community. Keen to dispel the myth that LGBT individuals and couples cannot become foster carers, we regularly talk to our LGBT carers about their experiences with fostering.
Today, we talk to Anthony Dawson and Nathan Page, a couple who decided to use their professional experiences and open their home to foster children. We discuss what they went through as they first applied to become foster carers, and their experiences with their first placement and the subsequent young people who have come into their care.
Why did you decide to become foster carers?
Anthony: Through my previous role as a youth worker, I had experienced the direct impact home life can have on a child’s progression and prospects. Nathan and I did not want children of our own but are not averse to the idea of having a family and thought we could put the space in our home to good use.
Tell us about your initial contact with the NFA?
We didn’t have a particular organisation in mind when we began our journey, however after a couple of initial contacts, we were massively impressed with how friendly and knowledgeable the guys at NFA were, even at first contact. Immediately, we were filled with confidence and pursued.
What did the process involve and how did you feel after the initial visit?
The process was pretty pain-free. After the first telephone contact, an initial visit was made, and we were put at ease straight away. When going into it, you think you would have a million questions, and then the mind goes blank! However, we had lots of time throughout the process to ask these questions as we became more confident and comfortable.
The house inspection was completed, and recommendations made that we were indeed suitable. Next came the form of assessment. This is a lengthy document that goes into the background, upbringing, character, family and beliefs of you as potential carers. This was a very interesting time for myself and Nathan, as it was a very reflective piece of work. We had to revisit times in our past that we didn’t necessarily think we would need to, we talked about things as a couple I would never have imagined that we would need to.
However, it was never made to feel like an intrusive piece of work, everything was super relaxed, and no judgements were made by anybody involved. Finally, we had the panel meeting, very nerve-racking but exciting at the same time.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering making that first step into becoming a foster carer?
We would definitely recommend making an enquiry. We understand it isn’t for everybody, but you won’t ever find out unless you give it a go and ask the questions you need to ask to decide for yourself. Don’t let initial concerns and worries stop you from making first contact. At any point throughout the process, you are well within your rights to withdraw and this is made clear throughout.
How did you feel when you were notified of your first foster care placement?
Every kind of emotion went through us that day. Immediately we were terrified, all the work was now coming to fruition, it was real, and we were about to be joined by two little strangers. In all honesty, there was a quick flash of doubt in our ability, but this was quickly squashed by an ultimate feeling of excitement and pride in what we were about to do, mistakes would be made, and we were aware we probably wouldn’t get it exactly right, but we were willing and ready to do our very best.
What ongoing training and support is available to you?
There is an abundance of training and support on offer and available around the clock. Our supervising social worker is great and so easily approachable, even if it’s just a call to sound off, you know there is always a listening, non-judgemental ear. In terms of training, there are mandatory training courses, but there are lots of additional training courses available that can supplement your learning. Not once have we felt out of our depth or had any questions unanswered.
We’d like to thank Anthony and Nathan for taking the time to talk to us, and for their ongoing fostering efforts.
If you have been inspired by Anthony and Nathan, and would like to be considered as a foster carer, head to our homepage for more information or call us today on 0800 044 3030.