Meet Ian and Michael, two foster fathers from Sunderland.
Ian and his husband Michael qualified as foster carers on Boxing Day in 2018 and welcomed siblings Isaac* and Aimee*into their home at the start of February the following year. The couple are hoping to become long-term foster parents to the children.
The decision to foster came out of the blue for Ian, who previously worked in the tourism industry, after a conversation with Michael shortly after moving into a new home at the start of 2018. Ian said: “I’d never really thought about fostering and it was something we’d never discussed as a couple, but one night Michael caught me completely off guard by asking me if I’d like to foster a child. Our new home was quite big and he was imagining the house with children running about.”
“We’ve got lots of nephews and nieces and we’ve always loved looking after them. One of our nephews was even best man at our wedding. After a few days of thinking about Michael’s question, I knew that fostering was something I really wanted to do.”
With the decision made, the couple contacted The Fostering Company. We arranged a visit at their home which led to the couple going through the application process. Meeting foster carers throughout their application inspired Ian to become a full-time foster carer, while Michael continues to work full-time for a private care provider.
Reflecting on the arrival of Isaac* and Aimee* into their lives, Ian said: “Becoming a foster Dad is the best decision I’ve ever made. Watching Isaac and Aimee’s development with us has been so rewarding. Isaac has low-level autism and when he came to live with us he couldn’t read or write but now he’s doing really well in school and he’s a brilliant little communicator. Aimee is such a bright girl and we love reading books together. The two bring such energy and joy into our lives.”
“We’ve got a little map of the UK on our wall at home and last year we tried to take them to as many places as possible. We had trips to Wales, Scotland and nature parks nearby and Isaac and Aimee have been pinning where they’ve been. We’re always looking to go on adventures together and give them the best life possible.”
Since the start of their fostering journey Ian and Michael have only received positive feedback from family and friends. Ian said: “My mum always wanted Michael and I to have children together. She passed away just as we were completing our application to foster and she was so supportive, as have all our family and friends. Since having Isaac and Aimee, I’ve also bumped into a few of our gay friends who thought I was babysitting a niece and nephew. They had no idea gay people could foster.”
“There are so many children in the care system, it’s shocking. If I could, I’d have a home full of children. It’s really hard to put into words the reward and happiness you receive by being able to positively change the lives of vulnerable children. I just wish I’d done it sooner.”
People from all walks of life can become foster carers as long as they are over 21 years of age. This includes single people, co-habiting couples, same sex couples and people living in rented accommodation – the only requirement is a private bedroom for each foster child.
Our Service Manager, Camilla, says “It’s extremely important to have a diverse range of foster carers across the country to reflect the diverse nature of the children and young people entering the care system and provide role models from all walks of life. We have some amazing LGBT+ carers who are enriching children’s and young people’s lives every day and encourage anyone who would like to do the same to get in touch.”
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the children.