A different approach to adoption heads to Stoke-on-Trent Pride
Independent adoption agencies Caritas Care and Adoption Matters Stoke & Staffordshire Concurrent Planning Service are at Stoke Pride this year on 16 June. The service – run in partnership by the two ‘Outstanding’ rated agencies – is at the forefront of new routes into adoption, combining adoption and fostering to give children the best start in life
The largest of its kind in the country, this exciting, creative and innovative service minimises disruption and unnecessary moves for very young children.
Celebrating its twelfth year, the event’s main focus is the annual celebration day held at Hanley Park on 16 June. With an arena providing live entertainment, themed pockets and zones for interactive arts and activities, picnic areas and a wealth of stalls and food outlets, the event looks set to be a great family-friendly day that celebrates both the LGBT community itself and the agencies’ engagement with the wider community of the Potteries and beyond.
Sue Spruce, Team Manager for the Stoke & Staffordshire service commented: ‘As proud members of New Family Social, we know from experience that LGBTQ people come to adoption with an open mind and real enthusiasm – it’s often their first choice for growing their family.
‘You can be single, over the age of 45, and you don’t need to own your own home to consider adoption via concurrent planning. We need people with stability, love and resourcefulness who can who can help a child with whatever needs they may have.’
Vince is a 35-year-old single gay male who started his concurrent planning journey last year. Here he tells his story:
‘Just over fifty years ago, I would’ve been arrested in the UK for promoting the fact I was a gay male. Back then, it was inconceivable to think that gay people had the right to love, cohabit or even publicly show affection to anyone of the same sex.
‘Can you even begin to imagine the consequences of same-sex couples or single gay people being given the right to care for or adopt children who needed the two fundamental needs of all human being: to be loved, and cared for? It was a reality far from anyone’s mind at that time.
‘Fast forward to present day and it is evident to see the opportunities open to the LBGTQ+ community when it comes to practising the desire of most human beings on this planet, to be a carer or potential parent to a child who needs stability and love. It’s thanks to many people before my time who fought for the right of equality that allows me, a 35-year-old single gay male, to currently care for an amazing baby boy.
‘I wasn’t raised to believe things are not possible. In fact, I was always told that anything is possible as long as you reach hard enough through barriers to grab it. It was always my belief that I was put on this earth to be a parent; I just chose to go that one step further and concurrently care for a child in the hope that would lead onto me becoming a parent.
‘I started to really think about it seriously when I started to change my lifestyle about two years ago now in preparation for the changes ahead. That’s when I gave up my ‘posh’ apartment and sports car so that I could get something a little bit more sensible!
‘I made the decision to embark on the concurrent planning journey with the knowledge that, even if adoption is not the final outcome, I have provided love, support and stability to a little human being for as long as they are with me. I am proud to be a single gay male concurrent carer, and it’s a path that I champion.
‘I know there are more straightforward routes out there but for me, it was more important to give a child a home, regardless of the outcome. There are tonnes of kids out there, so I didn’t see the point of going down the surrogacy route when I could give my time to kids who were already born but just didn’t have a home of their own.
‘Don’t get me wrong; it’s been a mixture of high and lows. The highs are the fact that I have the little one now and I’ve kind of forgotten about some of the lows. I did find the panel a bit daunting; this is where they make the decision as to whether you’re suitable to foster a child. This process is there for a good reason though and the outcome for me, the children involved, and many others is absolutely life changing.
‘As a guy doing this on my own, I go to different parenting groups every day and am usually the only male among many breastfeeding women so that’s interesting!
‘I’ve had a few debates over that fact that he will never have a permanent ‘Mum’ in his life if I adopt him as a gay man. Some agree with that, others don’t but it’s an argument that I’m willing to have with anyone.
‘It can be tough, cathartic and incredibly emotional but it’s also an experience that is full of support, laughter and reward. Never let who you are stop you from being what you want to be. I’m so proud to be part of a movement that is breaking down walls and fulfilling dreams of being concurrent carer/s or adoptive parent/s into reality. It’s a journey I have loved and continue to do so.’