In celebration of LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week we hear from Lynne Elvins about how her and her partner were one of the first same-sex couple’s to be approved for adoption.
This is some of Lynne’s story: “My partner Emma and I will have been together for 23 years this year. In 2004 we had got to a stage in our relationship where we wanted to start a family. We thought about adoption or fostering. The social worker at the time asked us if we wanted a job or a family. We said a family, and she said the permanent nature of adoption would be where we should start.
It took two years for the whole process, but we ended up being the first same-sex couple to to be approved for adoption in Bristol through Bristol City Council.
Once through the approval panel we entered the matching process where you can phone local authorities to enquire about the children in their care systems. At the time we hit a huge wall of negativity but eventually, after we had enquired about a five-year-old boy we got a return phone call. After many more meetings and discussions we were matched with Steven, our now 16-year-old son.
During the process we were asked how we would provide the support of a ‘dad’. We said if that means who will take a child down a park on a Saturday afternoon and kick a ball about, who will fix a puncture on a bicycle, who will tinker with a computer – then we will.
It’s funny because a lot of our straight friends don’t have strict divisions in what mum or dad does. Women can do ‘dad’ things in exactly the same way men can do ‘mum’ things. But when we can’t provide a ‘male’ perspective on things we call upon our circle of male family and friends. Steven has grandad’s, uncles and cousins who spend time with him.
We get asked what Steven calls us. We are both ‘mum’ and it has never been an issue.
Adoption is not for the faint-hearted. You are parenting young people who are very often in the care system because of neglect or abuse. Twelve years on after our first adoption workshop Steven is a normal teenage boy and we are very proud of everything he achieves.
Emma and I struggle at times just like other parents – some days we get it broadly right and some days we mess it up. But we love Steven and we tell him that every day. Much to his embarrassment…
Steven does hear comments about having gay parents at school, but he’s had just as many run-ins about other things he might get into arguments about. Given his difficult start in life he is very mature. He copes well and is supported by friends, teachers and wider family, as well as us."
Find out more about LGBT parenting rights.