Sydney couple David and Christopher Martin had planned to start a family, but weren’t sure how until they learned how many Australian children need foster homes.
Nationally, almost 50,000 kids are living in out of home care.
Both educators, David and Christopher have advocated for young people throughout their careers, sometimes including support to find foster care placements.
“Starting a family was something we had talked about and always hoped to achieve,” says David.
“We considered surrogacy or inter-country adoption, because at the time, adoption by gay couples was still illegal in New South Wales.”
He says that after learning how many children needed foster homes, the decision was “a no-brainer”.
“I came home from work one day and said, ‘Right, we’re fostering children. There’s too many kids that need somewhere to live… we need to put our hand up and do something’,” David recalls.
Despite common misconceptions, same-sex couples and single people can now foster and adopt children throughout Australia, with the Northern Territory the last to legalise it in 2018.
David and Christopher began fostering with the intention of providing a permanent home to children.
Their family now includes four children, and they last year officially adopted the three youngest.
‘Happy and thriving’
David says the journey has been “phenomenal”, and all four kids are flourishing, despite any stereotypes people may have about young people in foster care.
“A secure, safe, consistent, loving, happy home has allowed them to dispel myths surrounding what their capabilities may have been, and indeed thrive,” he says proudly.
“It’s a rewarding experience.”
David says the family has been treated like any other in their community, with the kids never encountering homophobia over their two dads.
The Martins have also remained close with the children’s biological parents, forming a close extended family.
“We’ve worked hard to form bonds with our thoroughly modern family,” David says.
“[Their biological families] know that the kids are happy and thriving.”
He encourages gay men in particular to consider fostering as a possibility to start their rainbow families.
“It’s society’s role to step up for the most vulnerable kids in our community,” he says.
Not all foster parents need to foster to adopt, or even necessarily to care for children long-term, as short-term placements are also needed for many.
In terms of resources, all prospective foster parents need is a spare room in their home and space in their heart.
Financial support may be available, and organisations for carers can assist each step of the way.
‘All types of people’
Michelle Stacpoole from My Forever Family encourages anyone interested in knowing more about being a foster carer in New South Wales to contact the organisation.
She stresses that a loving home is critical for young people, and foster parents can play a huge role in improving a child’s life.
“All children need nurturing and stability to get the support that they need,” says Michelle.
“We need all types of people for all types of care.”
Foster carers can be couples or single people, in employment or not, and owning or renting their homes.
My Forever Family’s Grow Your Pride campaign urges LGBTIQ people who want to start a family or make a difference by caring for young people to consider fostering.
The organisation trains and supports carers to help ensure they have everything they need throughout their fostering journey, right from the start.
“We guide prospective carers through the process and refer them to an appropriate agency,” Michelle explains.
“Anyone that has space in your home and your heart, and the capacity to share your life with a child, we want to hear from you.”