Gay adoption is a wonderful thing, here’s how it changed our lives
One gay couple has opened up to PinkNews about the life-changing impact that adopting two children, who are brothers, has had on their lives.
When George and Martin Lusty met in Brussels as junior lawyers back in 2005, the same year that same-sex adoption became legal under the then Tony Blair-led Labour government.
The couple got married in 2014 after getting a civil partnership in 2010, but knew from early on in their relationship that they wanted to adopt children.
“We settled on adoption pretty quickly to be honest,” civil servant George tells PinkNews, describing why the couple decided they wanted to have children. “For us, a biological link to our children is not paramount. We think you can still be wonderful parents, and have a wonderful relationship with your children, without necessarily having that biological link.”
Martin, who was brought up by his step mum, adds: “She doesn’t see any difference between me and her biological children from her previous relationship. I call her ‘mum,’ my step brothers are my brothers, and there is no distinction. So, with that experience, we knew you could build a family without biological requirements.”
A new home
And, in 2012 they reached out to children’s charity Barnardo’s, which guided them through the process.
George explains that Barnardo’s appealed to them because they have welcomed LGBT+ parents over the years and require families to sign a statement about inclusion and respecting diversity.
“That was so welcoming because we didn’t see many role models ahead of us in our workplaces. There was absolutely no visibility of LGBT+ parents,” George explains.
In July 2014, George, 37, and Martin, 38, picked up their two sons—brothers Oliver and Tom*—from their foster carers and brought them to their new home in south east London.
“It is life-changing,” Martin, who is a full-time dad for his kids, says of the impact of adopting children. “That’s a given.
“It’s amazing how they adopt to your life and you adopt to having them in your life very quickly.”
Still, while laughing, he adds: “The parent you think you’re going to be, and the parent you end up as, can be very different.”
George, meanwhile, says: “It’s also surreal. We’re now four years in or so, and we’re absolutely in the new normal.”
“And it’s wonderful. We love being parents. And we’re very, very lucky to have two incredibly, fascinating, and fascinated little boys,” he adds.
Barnardo’s recently put out a call for more LGBT+ people to consider adoption, having been one of organisations leading the campaign for more same-sex couples to adopt over the years.
LGBT adoption in the UK
Gay adoption is one of the main ways LGBT+ couples have children.
As of July 2018, there have been 2,837 reported adoption cases by LGBT+ people in the UK since records began back in 2006. And, rates of same-sex adoption have soared following its introduction in 2005.
Government statistics show that the number of adoptions by LGBT+ parents rapidly increased by more than 400 percent from 90 cases in 2006-2007 to 490 in 2016-2017.
In November 2017, it was reported that one in seven adoptions in England and Wales are by same-sex parents.
And these numbers are likely to be much higher in reality because they don’t include bisexual or trans people unless they are in a same-sex relationship, or the the sexual orientation and gender identity of single adopters.
George and Martin are encouraging other LGBT+ couples to adopt, saying the experience has had an incredibly positive impact on their lives.
“There are couples out there with so much love to give,” explains Martin. “We’ve been very privileged, we’ve met lots of LGBT+ couples and individuals who’ve adopted. And they just give so much of their time.
“Anyone who adopts, you are making a positive step to say ‘I want to have children,’ and you focus on that. And, frankly, you work hard to become an adoptive parent. So, when you end up with those children, it’s because you really want them.”
George adds: “It’s huge fun. Watching little people evolve, how their questions become more sophisticated, how they grow, how their bodies grow. It’s such a privilege to be part of that.”
One of the options
However, the pair say that, for some couples, adoption will not be the right way forward for them.
“We absolutely respect everybody’s individual choices,” says George. “And to be perfectly honest, it will be right for some people and it won’t for others. All I would say is that if people are minded to explore it then go for it because you do get support. Fantastic charities like Barnardo’s will be always be there throughout your journey and after your journey.”
“For us adoption was right. One of the things we were very excited about was adopting siblings and that can be possible with surrogacy and IVF, but equally actually being able to preserve the relationship that our two boys have had in their early years.”
He continues: “Everyone should make the decision that’s right for them. For some people, surrogacy will be absolutely the right route, for others it will be donor egg, it will be co-parenting arrangement, but for us it felt right and it felt right all the way through.
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“It’s a wonderful thing to do, particularly, given there is a huge need for adopters to come forward and help out with the large number of kids who are waiting for a forever family.”
The couple said the family felt welcomed and supported in their local community.
“It’s been a really positive reaction,” Martin says. “Obviously, we are in London…but we’ve had support from family, friends, and our neighbours, who have been amazing.”
“Everyone around us realises adoption is such an important thing in society.”
” Children’s names have been changed.