'It's all a bit pantomime': An exploratory study of gay and lesbian adopters and foster-Carers in England and Wales

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This paper reports the findings of a study identifying the experiences of gay and lesbian adopters and foster-carers in England and Wales. Qualitative interviews were conducted with twenty-four lesbians and gay men who had undertaken any part of the adoption or fostering application process since the implementation of the Adoption and Children Act of 2002. The study suggests that, whilst increasing numbers of lesbians and gay men are accessing fostering and adoption services, gender and sexuality are still problematic areas of contestation within this context. Asa result, participants were required to present themselves to assessing professionals in distinct ways, in order to be recognised as 'legitimate' in their applications. Using the concept of 'displaying family', this paper illustrates the ways in which sexuality can complicate such displays, as they fall outside prevailing cultural and familial scripts. However, taking an intersectiona I perspective, this paper will also demonstrate that this was dependent upon the complex subjectivities of each participant. Finally, it will analyse what this means for the assessment of gay and lesbian adopters and foster-carers, and how social workers can respond to both individual identities and diverse family forms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1708-1723
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016


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