LGBTQ+ parents share how adopting changed their lives: ‘Our families are just as valid’
LGBTQ+ adopters explain how creating their own families changed their lives in “every single way possible”.
In honour of National Adoption Week, which aims to enhance understanding of adoption and runs from 16 to 22 October, PinkNews spoke with the National Adoption Service for Wales and the parents who adopted through it.
Data from 2022 shows that Wales has the largest proportion of LGBTQ+ adopters in the UK, with increasing numbers of queer people choosing to expand their families by giving a home to a child in need.
Lesbian mum Abbey Collings, 33, adopted her son as a baby, following failed IVF treatment. She tells PinkNews of her pride in his development.
“Seeing the good job I’ve done teaching him manners and teaching him to be kind, makes me feel proud,” Abbey says of her now three-year-old son.
“I’m bringing him up to be like that and he’s a super likeable little child.”
Gay dads Chris Gibbs, 45, and Alun Jones, 40, adopted their first son, who was three years and four months old, in November 2019.
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Chris tells PinkNews that the adoption brought them “closer together as a couple”, and now they’re set to welcome their second son, who will be three years and one month, in October this year.
He says they’re feeling “overall excitement” about bringing their new son home, but have a “nervousness” in terms of how it will impact their eldest child.
Chris explains that the couple wanted their son to have a younger sibling, despite him already asking “will my younger brother be annoying,” to which, Chris jokes, they simply respond: “Yeah, he will.”
LGBTQ+ adoptive families are ‘just as valid’
Suzanne Griffiths, director of the National Adoption Service for Wales, tells PinkNews that the service has “embraced inclusivity” after the Adoption and Children Act passed in 2002.
The Act allowed unmarried couples, including same-sex couples, to apply for joint adoption in England and Wales, and came into force in December 2005.
Neither Abbey nor Chris and Alun had any concerns around being LGBTQ+ adoptive parents. Abbey says she’s “so comfortable with being gay” and an adoptive parent, while Chris, who is registered blind, says he was more worried about his visual impairment, although the agency – which he says were “fantastic” – quickly dispelled this concern.
Both families ensure their kids have inclusive books at home that showcase diverse families. This helps their children feel “fully aware” and “just as valid”, Abbey explains.
Chris says his son has already proudly told his nursery school that he’s adopted “and has two daddies”. Their son also attends Pride events with them, which he Chris says he “throughly enjoys.”
The only negative experience the couple have had was at a Drag Queen Story Hour in Cardiff, where anti-LGBTQ+ demonstrators frightened their son, who otherwise “loves the story times”.
Abbey says the thought of parents protesting against family-friendly drag events and inclusive education “frustrates” and upsets” her. She says she hopes her son is never subjected to such an environment.
Research from the LGBTQ+ adopters, foster carers and kinship carers charity New Family Social, which works with the National Adoption Service for Wales, found that Wales has the greatest proportion of same-sex couples adopting in the UK.
One in four adoptions in Wales in 2022 were to same-sex couples, while same-sex couples accounted for one in six adoptions in England – the highest figures ever recorded.
However, there is still political opposition to adoption, with Tory MP Miriam Cates telling Times Radio in September that the UK has become the “family breakdown capital of the West” and that an “ideal” family is for children “to be with both biological parents”.
There are so many reasons why children may not be able to be brought up by their biological parents.
Suzanne Griffiths says that where it’s possible for children to remain with their birth families or birth communities, “it absolutely should happen”, but points out that this isn’t the case for all children in Britain.
“The reality we have in our society currently is that not all children can safely remain in their birth families or communities for their children,” Griffiths explains. “Adoption is one of the forms of permanence that we have available for those children.”
In response to Cates’ comment, Abbey says: “Once you’re tucking that little human into bed at night, you don’t care about anything like that.”
Chris adds: “Realistically, a child needs to be in a place where they are nurtured, loved and kept safe. It doesn’t matter if it’s actually the biological parents.”
Both families encourage the LGBTQ+ community to consider adoption to expand or create their family.
Chris says LGBTQ+ parents “can offer a place for a child where they’re able to thrive”. He advises people who may have questions about adoption to call their adoption agency and have a chat.
Abbey adds: “My advice would be don’t be scared, because in no way you’re going to be at a disadvantage, it’s not going to be relevant if you’re LGBTQ+.”
For more information on adoption in Wales, please the National Adoption Service for Wales.
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