Gary and Adrian

“How fos­ter­ing filled a gap in our lives.”

Gay Times Magazine - - Modern Family -

Eight years ago, life changed for Adrian and I when we moved into a five bed­room house in Rhondda Cynon Taff, with a swim­ming pool which be­came pop­u­lar with our neigh­bours’ chil­dren.

The neigh­bours hap­pened to be fos­ter car­ers with TACT (The Ado­les­cent and Chil­dren’s Trust) and got us think­ing about fos­ter­ing. Af­ter all, we had no chil­dren of our own – just two res­cue don­keys and plenty of room to spare. But we were wor­ried about our el­i­gi­bil­ity. Surely two men can’t fos­ter chil­dren to­gether?

Our neigh­bour spoke to her TACT so­cial worker and it turned out that we would be very wel­come to ap­ply. The ap­pli­ca­tion form was in­tru­sive, but we knew that was for a good rea­son. The process was in­ten­sive, but seemed to go very quickly.

Soon af­ter ap­proval we got our first place­ment – we were both ner­vous and ex­cited. D, a 14-year-old boy, set­tled in to home life with us re­ally well and left to move in with his girl­friend at the age of 18. He’s nearly 22 now and has two boys of his own. He of­ten comes to visit.

Next came Ma, who came to us af­ter he left his al­co­holic mother and took him­self to his lo­cal author­ity on his 16th birth­day. He stayed with us un­til he was 18 and then moved into a flat with his girl­friend around the cor­ner from us. He’s con­stantly back and forth to our house for food! He works for the health ser­vice as an ad­min­is­tra­tor and ev­ery time he comes around he loves the smell as we open the door to him, be­cause it re­minds him of the safe haven we gave him when he went into care.

Fol­low­ing Ma was per­haps one of our great­est fos­ter­ing suc­cesses, Mb. He was not happy liv­ing with his previous fos­ter carer and had his bags packed for four months wait­ing to be moved to a new fos­ter home. The prob­lem for Mb was that as a gay 14-year-old, he felt very re­pressed about his iden­tity and un­able to truly ex­press him­self. Within just days of mov­ing in with us he was a trans­formed per­son. His school’s head of year rang us to say how he couldn’t be­lieve the pos­i­tive change in him. He re­ally came out of his shell and grew in con­fi­dence. It’s break­throughs like that which are so re­ward­ing about fos­ter­ing. He’s re­ally happy liv­ing with us and he has no in­ten­tion of leav­ing un­til he’s at least 25, he says.

Mb is a big Doc­tor Who fan and we re­stored the orig­i­nal bus that was used in the Doc­tor Who film Planet of the Dead. We of­ten go to ral­lies with it – that’s great fun.

Six­teen months ago, 14-year-old C joined the fam­ily. Ini­tially, C was a very an­gry young man – he thought he was stay­ing with us on a respite ba­sis but he was ac­tu­ally a long-term place­ment. When he ar­rived he had lit­er­ally noth­ing ex­cept an old gui­tar. It was so sad to see.

He has learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties and started go­ing to a class at his school for young peo­ple with special needs. The teacher is a mu­si­cian and, with his en­cour­age­ment, C has dis­cov­ered that he’s mu­si­cally gifted. Now he has his own band, they play in our garage and he’s go­ing to record an al­bum with his teacher. The dif­fer­ence in him now is so fan­tas­tic. He’s much hap­pier and more con­fi­dent. He’s prob­a­bly go­ing to stay with us un­der the When I am Ready scheme, which in Wales gives young peo­ple the right to stay with their fos­ter fam­i­lies be­yond the age of 18.

Although we have busy lives with me work­ing and both of us vol­un­teer­ing as com­mu­nity first re­spon­ders for the Welsh Am­bu­lance Ser­vice, fos­ter­ing has filled a gap in our lives. It’s so great hav­ing kids around – well, Adrian and I are big kids at heart our­selves to be hon­est. For us, the down­side of fos­ter­ing is when we hear the hor­ri­ble things that the boys have been through be­fore they came into our lives. One of our lads of­ten says, “Well you know what it’s like,” and I have to re­mind him that ac­tu­ally I don’t know what it’s like. Nei­ther Adrian or I can imag­ine how it must feel to by up­rooted from your home and taken into care.

I’d rec­om­mend fos­ter­ing to any­body. But be aware that it’s not easy, you will need to be pre­pared for tears and tantrums, as well as fun and laugh­ter. How­ever, at the end of the day, it’s so very re­ward­ing.

For more in­for­ma­tion on TACT and how to be­come a fos­ter carer visit tact­, @tact­care

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