The children we fostered didn’t care if we were gay or straight

Six years ago, DAVE THOMAS and his partner decided to become foster parents – but as a gay couple, they faced and uphill struggle. Here, he recalls the obstacles they overcame to provide a family for children in need

WE FIRST thought about fostering six years ago. Patrick and I wanted children, but gay couples in Ireland aren’t allowed to adopt, which seemed unfair. So we discussed fostering, which is allowed.

It would be another two years before we would apply. In that time, we wondered whether we would be able to cope with the challenging behaviour of a damaged child. How would it affect our private lives? Would people talk about us in a negative way?

To foster in Ireland, you apply either to the HSE or a private fostering company. We chose the private company, which had a comprehensive list of support services. A social worker visited and explained that the intensive assessment could take months.

If you had any skeletons in your closet, she warned, they would emerge. We had no concerns on that score, and waited excitedly for the letter of acceptance from the company. When it arrived, it was a rejection.

A representative explained that, while we were “excellent candidates to foster”, the company was rejecting us because I had not told my parents I was gay. They accepted that my elderly parents already knew, but they still wanted me to tell them.

Unless that happened, our application would go no further. We asked the company whether they had insisted that heterosexual couples tell their parents they were straight. They hadn’t.

We wrote suggesting they were discriminating against us. When the company director visited, we told him we would pursue legal action. A week later, our application was processed.

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