Wood, Kate (2015) ‘It's All a Bit Pantomime’: An Exploratory Study of Gay and Lesbian Adopters and Foster-Carers in England and Wales. British Journal of Social Work. ISSN 0045-3102

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. As a 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 intersectional 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.

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