According to the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (the BAAF), 68,840 children were in the care of local authorities as of 31st March 2014. This denotes a significant rise on the 68,060 children in care as of 2013 and 65,520 children as of 2011.
Although the rate of children in care is on the up, several thousands of children are adopted each year too, with three and a half thousand children having been adopted in 2012. But while adoption is seen as a good thing, it also poses significant problems. Not just the usual issues of children learning how to settle in in their new surroundings and their new homes, but the issue of parents being against (or failing to understand) their foster child’s identity.
This is what 18 year old Emma Willoughby has spoken to ITV Fixers (a campaign that allows young people to express themselves) about. Emma explains that after discovering she was bisexual whilst in foster care, she didn’t feel comfortable to come out or discuss her sexuality at all with her foster parents.
“One of my foster care placements I was very fond of the people I lived with but I found they were very traditional, and I felt I couldn’t talk to them about my sexuality.
As this time I was dating a girl and I felt I couldn’t take them home because I was afraid of being found out and it just made me feel I was living two different lives not being able to live the one life that I really wanted to.”
She says that her foster parents were conservative and that she found their views upsetting. However, Emma also feels that this could be tackled with information which is why, in collaboration with the the Somerset Foster team, she has created a booklet of suggestions for foster carers and plans to host a series of workshops to educate foster carers on having LGBT children.