Gay dads open up on the wonderful impact of their fostering journey

Follow the fostering journey of two dads as they share their story of raising children as LGBTQ+ parents in Ireland.

Picture of a father holding his young son, whom he is fostering.
Image: Kelly Sikkema

Two dads shared their personal story with GCN about their experience with Five Rivers Fostering and providing children with a loving and supportive home.

We started our fostering journey over five years ago, driven by a deep conviction that we could make a positive impact in the lives of children in care. As a gay couple, we questioned and doubted ourselves, unsure if our dream of becoming foster parents could become a reality.

However, we discovered that fostering is open to single parents and gay couples, and we decided to connect with Five Rivers, drawn by their stellar reputation and unwavering support for all prospective foster parents. From the moment we made contact, our minds were put at ease. Our dedicated link worker visited us, guiding us through the entire process and giving us the space to decide if fostering was still the path we wanted to embark on. And guess what? We were more eager than ever before.

The journey took approximately eight months, during which we grew both individually and as a couple. We realised that being foster carers didn’t require us to fit a picture-perfect mould of a family. We simply needed to be authentic, with our own life experiences.

Before being matched with our current children, we had the privilege of providing short-term care for a couple of amazing kids. But when our link worker mentioned a brother and sister who needed a loving home, we felt compelled to offer them stability and the chance to stay together. After a casual meeting with the children, we knew in our hearts that we wanted to give it a go. The moving-in process was handled sensitively, starting with a sleepover to help the kids get comfortable, followed by their official move-in a week later, just in time for the start of the school year.

Life changed rapidly. New routines, school uniforms, and lunch preparations became part of our daily lives. The adventure had truly begun—for all four of us. While it wasn’t always easy for the kids, who understandably had difficulty trusting adults due to their past experiences, we focused on providing them with stability, love, and a sense of safety. We wanted them to feel that our home was their home. As they began to trust us, we witnessed their transformation. They started excelling in school, and their unique personalities began to shine.

One significant moment stands out in our memory—the sound of their laughter echoing throughout the house. It was a milestone for us, a clear sign that we were on the right track as a new family. Even though it was past bedtime, we pretended not to hear, allowing them to enjoy that moment of joy.

Four years have passed since then, and our children are still with us, growing into incredible young adults. Witnessing their growth and knowing that we have given them a chance at a fulfilling life is priceless. Our journey continues, and we wouldn’t change a thing.

If you believe that you, too, can make a difference, we encourage you to take that first step. Make the call and explore where it could lead you. Our journey is ongoing, and the rewards have far exceeded our expectations.

Deirdre McDonagh, CEO of Five Rivers Fostering, emphasises the urgent need for foster carers in the LGBTQ+ community: “As the CEO of Five Rivers, I can’t stress enough the shortage of foster carers we currently face. There are more children in need of loving homes than there are available carers. We urgently need people from the LGBTQ+ community and beyond to step forward and make a difference in the lives of these young individuals”.

Together, we can make a lasting difference in the lives of children and young people, proving that love knows no boundaries. Care today, change tomorrow.

To learn more about becoming a foster parent or to discuss your questions and aspirations, please reach out to Five Rivers at their Dublin office on 01-8665290 or Munster (0)21 7355977.

© 2023 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

This post is sponsored by Five Rivers Fostering

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