The question of whether gay or lesbian couples should conceive or adopt children has been with us for many years. Some people think it’s wrong.
There seems no justification for those reservations of course. We’re confronted all the time with examples of heterosexual men and women being bad parents and abusers. Yet the idea that less conventional couples pose some extra kind of threat is deeply ingrained.
And if there’s concern about gay and lesbian people adopting children, what must it be like for trans people?
In this interview I speak to a trans man who, with his wife, has successfully overcome the obstacles to adopt two young children. He also now advises other trans people on how to navigate the process too, and to deal with the general ignorance of social workers in this context.
We agreed we would keep his identity confidential for the sake of his children. In this interview he adopted the pseudonym "Nick". However if people would like to contact Nick for advice on adoption themselves then please ask for help by leaving a request via the comments facility below. If you supply an email address in the "mail" box on the comment form this won't be shown publicly; however we can use this to put you in touch.
Update: Since releasing this episode, 'Nick' has set up a special email address where people interested in adoption can contact him for advice: email@example.com
My partner and I are Trans women who transitioned in our early and mid twenties. We’re in a loving Lesbian releationship and met each other back in 2000.
We’re going though the approval process at the moment and have found our experiences to be completely different to that of our “Nick”.
Our social worker there has been fantastic. We came out to her at the start of the process in the interest of being frank, open and honest. I would advise anyone wanting to adopt to be completely honest from the start. Don’t make an issue of it and in our experience social workers shouldn’t!
The team at the adoption service were fantastic and never batted an eyelid. In fact, our social worker, prior to conducting our first home visit, held a trans awareness and training day to make sure that everyone on the adoption panel and everyone who would be dealing with us would be aware of the issues surrounding gender dysphoria, surgery and the fact that it would make no difference to our abilities to be loving, caring parents! She was adamant that our trip to panel didn’t end up being the first time that the panel had dealt with trans issues. She felt it unfair to both sides to do this. So far it’s worked just great. We’ve focused on all levels of our life - including our past in a frank, honest and down-to-earth way. We have had to deal with some trans issues - but it in no means has our time focused on this; they’re treated just like every other issue we discuss. Unlike “nick” I think we’ve had a brilliant experience so far and our social worker is very clued up - before meeting us though she’d not got much information about the issues - she went away and researched them like crazy!
We’ve also agreed to come out (slowly) to some of our close friends and family who don’t know about our past. So far it’s all be great and no issues have been experienced. Our medical reports too have been filled out in a very understanding way. At no point did our social worker make us feel uneasy, marginalised or put out. If we’re successful at panel and are approved to adopt we will end up telling our new family. I’m working on a book to help explain that to younger children and older children.
We are members of a support network called NewFamilySocial, an LGBT adoption group. They can be found at www.newfamilysocial.co.uk.
We go to panel in September. Hopefully everything will go well!
Delighted to hear things are going well for you both, TwoMoms! It wasn’t that our experience was awful, but there were various points where there were some rather inappropriate and irrelevant questions asked and boundaries needed to be set.
The other trans people I have assisted through the process are finding this to be their experience too. I truly believe this is borne out of ignorance and lack of knowledge, rather than inherent discrimination or prejudice.
Panel can be a rather daunting experience but ours went remarkably smoothly. Is it approval panel or matching panel in September?
Good luck and best wishes to you both and please keep us up to date on your progress!
Hi there! I love it when the interviewees stop by to chat!
Let’s hope the conversation you two have started here tempts a few other people to share their experiences and show that neither of you are unusual. TwoMoms .. you bring the total cases I know about to five already. (Two cases of trans women; three of trans men)
Let’s not forget as well that in talking about trans people as suitable adopters people can also maybe add to the understanding that trans birth parents are no less good or bad than any other parents.