The father and mother are typically presented as the desirable norm for family life, usually portrayed laughing along with a couple of smiling, cherubic offspring. But, in fact, real families come in all shapes and sizes. While I always knew that I would be able to add a new dimension to this picture-perfect family, I was convinced that the world wasn’t ready for me to be a single, male, gay foster carer. While fostering had been on my mind for many years, I decided to make everyone wait before I would make a grand entrance.
I actually hate being called a ‘gay foster carer’. I’m not ashamed but I am not defined by my sexuality. I am a single man, who is an excellent foster carer for teenagers. I just happen to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
And when I started to foster a teenage boy I was blown away because I have had the privilege to meet someone who saw me that way too. He sees me as his role model, his carer, his teacher, his friend, his father, his brother, his uncle, who happens to be gay. This kind of acceptance makes me feel very proud.
The Islington fostering team have been so good to me and have embraced me as a human being and invested in me as a person. The training that is provided to foster carers allows us to grow and open minds about the LGBTQ+ community.
Two of my teenage idols were raised in foster care, the gay icons Cher and Joan Crawford. But it wasn’t until I attended training where I learned about how trauma affects behaviour and how to understand attachment that it became clear to me how strong those two women really are. And, in turn, how strong young people in foster care have to be too.
Being a foster carer has taught me how to use trauma of any level as a source of energy, both as a lesson and as a guide. Our trauma is our treasure. It is what makes us exceptional, and I am deeply grateful for the privilege to share this knowledge with teenagers.