Dale Elliott and Daniel Brighton don’t fit the profile of ‘traditional’ foster parents. For one thing, they’re very young — 22 and 21 respectively. For another, they’re gay.
The couple, who’ve been together for more than three years and live in Sydney’s western suburbs, have been approved as foster carers as part of the Benevolent Society’s foster care program and are currently awaiting ‘the call’ telling them a child needs to go into their care.
When it comes, it will be the culmination of a yearning the pair have shared since the start of their relationship.
“We couldn’t go and adopt, surrogacy is extremely hard, and a lot of fostering organisations have their ideals of the perfect family, with a mother staying home and not working,” Elliott told Sydney Star Observer.
“So many options were closed to us. Then we saw the Benevolent Society’s stand at [Mardi Gras] Fair Day earlier this year. We went to an information session, had our first in-home meeting, and then applied.”
The application process is exhaustive. Applicants are assigned a case worker and must attend training sessions, in-home assessments and safety checks before a final decision is made by an approval panel.
“It is very thorough, but for us, it all happened quite quickly, because we’d been ready and wanting to do it for two years. On average, the process takes six months, but we managed to do it in two and a half months,” Elliott said.
While he said their parents and friends had been supportive of their decision, he conceded that they had faced some resistance — more so because of their age than their sexuality.
“We definitely felt like we had to prove ourselves. Everyone else in the training sessions already had kids, whether they were lesbian couples or straight couples. But we’re very stable — we own our own home, we’re not going out partying every weekend.
“The approval panel never made a judgement against us based on our ages. They just needed us to prove that we could handle having a foster child, that we could nurture and care for them the same way an older carer would.”
info: Visit www.fosterachild.org.au