Meet the inspiring Sunderland foster dads who are calling for more LGBT+ families to foster a child
Two Sunderland foster dads are calling on more people from the LGBT+ community to consider fostering a child after even their gay friends admitted they didn’t know same-sex couples could foster.
Ian Deary, 44, and his husband Michael Wass, 35, qualified as foster carers on Boxing Day in 2018 and welcomed a little boy and girl, who are siblings, into their home at the start of February 2019.
The children are still living with the couple, who have been married for five years, and they are hoping to become long-term foster parents to them.
Since fostering, Ian said: “I’ve bumped into a few of our gay friends who thought I was babysitting a niece and nephew. They had no idea gay people could foster.
“There are so many children in the care system, it’s shocking. It’s really hard to put into words the reward and happiness you receive by being able to positively change the lives of vulnerable children. I just wish I’d done it sooner.”
More than 59% of people in the North East are unaware that same sex couples or those from the LGBT+ community are eligible to foster
And a recent damning report showed that there are a record number of 78,150 children in the care system across England.
Research from LGBT+ charity, New Family Social, has suggested that if just 1% of the LGBT+ community was to foster there would be no children waiting for a loving home.
After making the decision to foster, Michael and Ian contacted Fostering Company North East and organised a home visit which started the couple’s application process.
Meeting foster carers inspired Ian to become a full-time foster carer, while Michael continues to work full-time for a private care provider.
Ian said: “Becoming a foster dad is the best decision I’ve ever made. Watching their development with us has been so rewarding. [The little boy] has low-level autism and when he came to live with us he couldn’t read or write but now he’s doing really well in school and he’s a brilliant little communicator.
“[The little girl] is so bright and we love reading books together. The two bring such energy and joy into our lives.”
He added: “My mum always wanted Michael and I to have children together. She passed away just as we were completing our application to foster and she was so supportive, as have been all our family and friends.”
People from all walks of life can become foster carers as long as they are over 21 years of age, including single people, co-habiting couples, same sex couples and people living in rented accommodation – the only requirement is a private bedroom for each foster child.
Camilla Hunter, registered manager at The Fostering Company North East, said: “We have amazing LGBT+ carers, like Ian and Michael, who are enriching children’s and young people’s lives every day and encourage anyone who would like to do the same to get in touch.”
For more details call 0191 268 6888 or email [email protected]