Sex, sexuality and relationships: developing confidence and discernment when assessing lesbian and gay prospective adopters
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AbstractIn the UK, the last 15 years have seen a profound change in the way that lesbians and gay men have been socially and politically located and acknowledged. This is evidenced by recent legislative changes that have given protection to lesbians and gay men and placed a duty on public bodies to provide equitable services. For a number of years lesbians and gay men have been specifically targeted, recruited and utilised as adopters of children in public care. With these changes has come the realisation that a number of complexities in adoption practice have been insufficiently addressed. Brown and Cocker (2008) have argued that in the assessment of prospective lesbian and gay adopters, struggling with complexities is crucial for safe and effective assessment of suitability to be realised. This appreciation of the complexity of practice has been articulated in the Independent Inquiry into the Circumstances of Child Sexual Abuse by Two Foster Carers in Wakefield (Parrott et al, 2007). The report noted that the ‘homosexuality’ of the foster carers became the primary focus of social work anxiety. This happened at the expense of holistic considerations of both the carers’ potential and their actual foster care practice. Although these findings relate to foster care, they are transferable to the adoption field. The authors of the Inquiry emphasised the importance of ‘discrimination’ in practice, arguing that ‘discrimination’ was essential for discerning and analytical assessment, support and supervision. This article by Christine Cocker and Helen Cosis Brown offers a conceptual framework as well as practice tools to facilitate such discriminatory, effective, discerning and comprehensive assessments of lesbian and gay prospective adopters. The paramountcy of the child’s welfare has to remain central to developments in adoption practice. This article maintains this centrality.
CitationCocker, C., & Cosis-Brown, H. (2010) 'Sex, sexuality and relationships: Developing confidence and discernment when assessing lesbian and gay prospective adopters' Adoption & Fostering, 34(1), 20-32.
PublisherBritish Agencies For Adoption
JournalAdoption & fostering : the journal of the Association of British Adoption and Fostering Agencies.