Faith in Families’ Greg Cunningham on LGBT+ Adoption & Fostering Week – and being a parent

Greg Cunningham, Adoption Social Worker at Faith in Families, on LGBT+ Adoption and Fostering Week (March1-7) and his own parenthood.

When qualifying as a Social Worker I always saw adoption as an end goal for my career and something that I knew I was passionate about.  I also saw it as the end goal for my life – to have an adoptive family was a long, distant dream. 

I was pleased to have the opportunity to join Faith in Families (FiF) much earlier in my career than I expected and so far I have had three happy, challenging and rewarding years at the agency. I wondered when applying for the role whether my sexuality would be at odds with the original Catholic roots of the agency, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I am proud to work at FiF, and our openness and encouragement of LGBTQ+ adoption is one of the main reasons for that. 

Children Thrive

I have had the opportunity through my career so far to assess and approve lots of LGBTQ+ adopters and I have been so happy to see children thrive in their care. It is so encouraging and reassuring that, nationally, the picture for LGBTQ+ adoption has changed so much over the years and the statistics show a continuing increase of LGBTQ+ adopters

Alongside national agencies such as New Family Social we are gradually breaking down societal barriers for LGBTQ+ parenting and I’m so proud of FiF for being such a big part of that. I’m also proud of our adopters for being strong, fearless advocates for themselves and their children – for deciding to adopt, for believing in themselves and for supporting their adopted children who are thriving in LGBTQ+ families. It is always such a delight to represent the agency at local Pride events, and such a joy to see our adoptive families attending with their facepaint and their flags. 

My Parenthood

On a personal note I have taken the opportunity over the last year to become part of the LGBTQ+ parenting community. I find myself now as a step-parent to two pre-teens and a Special Guardian to a toddler. Though I have not been through quite the same process as the adoption assessments and placements that I carry out professionally, I have been reflecting on the similarities with adoption and find that there is little difference. I am proud to promote LGBTQ+ adoption, and consider myself a strong advocate professionally and personally.  

It is not without its challenges. There will always be the occasional look, the second-take glances from people in the street, the ‘who’s dad, then?’ questions, or people asking whether he has a ‘mummy figure’ in his life? We’ve come to expect that and learn to deal with it. Our children will grow up and do the same. Even children as young as toddlers are able to identify that they are from an LGBTQ+ family and there is such a sweetness in the way that it is so normal to them, an innocence that we as their parents so desperately try to cling to. 

What Children need

I am always drawn back to thinking about what makes a parent and what children need? Of course, there are always additional things to consider when we assess and approve LGBTQ+ adopters but, the truth is, adopted children with LGBTQ+ parents need exactly the same as any other children. They need love, patience, acceptance, hope, advocacy, stability, permanence… and maybe patience again… all the same qualities we would expect of any adoptive parent.