Jamie and Sam’s journey as a same-sex foster couple
All kinds of kids need all kinds of foster carers. When thinking about becoming a foster carer, what matters most is that you can create a stable environment for a child or young person to feel safe and to thrive.
Foster carer Jamie* shares he and his partner Sam's experience fostering children as a same-sex couple in Victoria.
Jamie and his partner Sam have been together for over 10 years. They made the decision to come foster carers two and half years ago.
“We just thought we’d dip our toes in the water. We are a middle-class gay couple and we had already done lots of things we’d wanted to do. We couldn’t have our own children, and a lot of gay people go through that grief period."
Jamie also had family members who had spent time in foster care and who had been adopted so the idea of fostering wasn’t something new to him. Jamie grew up in a family environment that prioritised helping others and this helped form his passion for providing care for children and young people who came into his life.
Jamie and Sam’s first placement was short-term care for two Aboriginal children. The siblings stayed with them for a couple of weeks and Jamie recalled the experience of having girls in the house for the first time.
“That was full on. It was really fun, as a [couple] we have never cared for girls before. We had to google how to plait hair...”
Not long after, the children were able to be reunited with their mother. Jamie felt this reunification made their first time fostering a very positive experience.
“It was actually nice to be like ‘you are going back to your mum in two weeks’. It was a nice introduction to fostering for us."
Fostering as a same-sex couple
Jamie and Sam were lucky to have a case worker who was also gay, which was helpful in having someone understand their anxieties about fostering as a same-sex couple.
“I think people would be surprised about how open-minded people are, and we’ve never felt any discrimination towards us. We’ve only ever felt welcomed in the communities we’ve walked into. We never felt excluded.
Jamie felt it was important to model inclusivity, safety, security, and connection for the children and young people in their care. For them, this inclusion happens during everyday interactions, and in using events such as International Women’s Day as opportunities to spark conversations.
“We talk about ‘Why do we have this day?’ We are also not afraid to talk about other issues as well. I think gay couples, having often dealt with trauma ourselves, at least we are, comfortable confronting more difficult issues head on.
Now providing long-term care for a two pre-teen siblings, Jamie says he and Sam have learned a lot during their foster care journey.
“We were told that sibling boys are the hardest by far to place. The most rewarding thing is seeing them achieve things that people said they wouldn’t achieve. As foster carers, you have to be their advocates. Just yesterday one of the boys got a high distinction in school. “
Jamie feels their experience has been an incredibly positive one, noting that being carers means walking alongside children while they are in the household.
“We are incredibly lucky people. Fostering is a privilege.”
Advice for new foster carers
After a diverse experience of fostering, Jamie has lots of advice for new foster carers.
- Look after yourself: “I think looking after yourself is incredibly important. And having breaks and time out when you need it...”
- Know why you’re getting started: “I think you have to be in the right frame of mind to want to do it and to make a difference with the time you have because it may be for a week or it may be for life.
- Don’t underestimate the little things: “It’s the little things that change the trajectory of a kid’s life. They always pleasantly surprised us. It’s the little things you take for granted that you do with them. Holding their hand when you cross the road, stroking their hair when they are sick, or even just sitting at the table together as a family every night. It makes a big difference.”
Fostering Connections is grateful to Jamie for sharing his story; carers like Jamie and Sam make a huge difference by creating stable, welcoming, caring homes for children and young people.
Victoria welcomes foster carers from all backgrounds. Could you make a difference in a child or young person’s life? To find out more about becoming a foster carer, call 1800 013 088 or enquire today.