About 5 years ago my partner and I talked at length about what we may like to do in the future. One thing I had never wanted as a teenager and young adult was kids. I am not too sure why, it may well have been that because I was gay, I had talked myself out of having them, because it was never going to happen. After much discussion we both wondered if it would ever be possible for a gay couple to Foster children, or indeed, was there anything stopping us from approaching a fostering agency to see if we could foster.
At the time we lived in Republic of Ireland, and as such lived in a staunchly old fashioned and deeply religous area. We thought that the chances of us being considered were very slim, and funnily enough, we were kind of right in that respect. We went along to the local authority and their Children's Services department and met with a lady there. From the off, we could tell that there was going to be an issue about this, and she only confirmed this view by telling us that we would be required to have people agree with us becoming Foster Carers - these people being local clergy (ALARM BELLS!!), Doctor, Nurse, Business People, etc. The big metal barrier came down and that was it for us - we were blocked out of that particular avenue - or were we?
At work, our workmates were well behind us, and what we were doing. Even our Medical Advisor at work, who was a Senior Nurse, was totally behind us, but agreed that at that point in time, it would be more or less impossible for us to get agreement, especially with the local Clergy.
About 6 months later, living with the Euro for too long, we decided that we would be unable to afford living in Ireland, as costs had increased, but salaries had not! So, we decided to move back home, and back to our families. We moved back in September 2003, and funnily enough, it was the best thing we ever did. We saw our families a lot more, and were able to afford to do a lot more things, including buying our own house. I had a fantastic job, earning more money than I ever had and loved it even more than just the money. Tris also had a fantastic job in London, and was looking to move to an even better paid job. We had everything, money, home, cats etc, but yet again there was something missing.
In January 2004 Tris was travelling home in the car when an advert came on the radio looking for Foster Carers URGENTLY! As is well documented, even in the press today, there are not enough Foster and Adoptive Parents registered for the number of children in the British Care System, and in our area especially, one of the nearby cities actually has the highest number of children in the country in their care system. Of course, we thought, would we just end up in the same position as before, or would we be taken seriously this time? Worrying, we made a phone call to the number advertised on the radio and crossed our fingers.
Tris made the call. I am a little telephone-aphobic! I listened intently as he spoke to this "person" on the end of the phone, was he flirting with them? Sounded like it! Cheek! I shouldn't have worried, what I forgot is that when it comes to stuff like this, Tris does not worry quite so much and definitely does not show it when he is talking about it! What I was also about to find out was that he was pretty much excited about this phone call, and what the person on the other end of the phone was telling him!
The person on the other end of the phone was actually gay, and he was so excited that a gay couple had rung up as a result of his advert! He explained that there had been changes to UK law, and this meant that Fostering and Adoption was now open to anyone. Being open to anyone, of course, does not mean that they are going to turn up the next day with two kids in tow - there is much more to it than that! The first thing that would happen would be that our contact details would be given to one of their Independent Social Workers. This being due to the fact that they were a Private Fostering Agency and did not have their own Social Workers. The Social Worker would ring us up to make an appointment for an initial visit. This visit would assess how serious we were about Fostering, and of course, if from the visit if we would be deemed suitable to proceed further. From then, they would confirm their thoughts in writing, and we would take it from there.
FANTASTIC!!! We were being taken seriously!! Yippee!
We went about our day to day business for a few days, and then arrived home one eveing to an answer phone message from a lady, we will call her Kelly. She was the Social Worker we had been assigned for our initial visit. Could we give her a call back to arrange for an appointment to come and visit us. Could we - would we - bloody right we would - within 2 minutes of listening to the message!!! We rang her back, and made the appointment. Because we had spoken to someone before about Fostering, we were, even after the phone call, still very wary of the process, and whether we would be considered for it.
Our appointment was a few days away, we were anxious, but felt we knew what we wanted, so let's see how far we can go.