More same-sex couples applied to become foster parents after a TV documentary series about fostered children and foster care in Iceland was broadcast.
“For years, lesbian couples have been active in fostering and several children have been placed in care with them, but the number of female couples has dropped a lot lately. After Sindri Sindrason’s TV series, Fósturbörn (Foster Children), we suddenly had four gay male couples applying, which makes a lot of difference, that means a new home for 4-7 children,” says Bryndís S. Guðmundsdóttir, specialist in foster care and treatment at the Government Agency for Child Protection.
Bryndís says that’s slightly unusual because in fact, there’s been a decrease in the number of couples in general applying to become foster parents. “In 2017, 16 fewer couples applied than the year before. I don’t understand it, but it could have something to do with the blossoming economy and people are just busy with their careers and making money.”
“After Sindri Sindrason’s TV series, Fósturbörn (Foster Children), we suddenly had four gay male couples applying, which makes a lot of difference, that means a new home for 4-7 children.”
She says that quite often, people have been pondering about becoming a foster parent for a long time and then something prompts them to take the step, at least to apply. “I believe the TV series did spark an interest and that´s why we were contacted by more gay couples.”
Becoming a foster parent can be a way for people to have a family as many children placed in care need permanent care and in some cases the foster parents wind up adopting them.
All in all, around 60 homes went through the application process last year. Bryndís has worked at the agency for 20 years and she has no recollection of it ever being frowned upon that same-sex couples would become foster parents, but then it’s only in more recent years that they seem to have thought of that as an option to have a family.
“There’s never been any law against same-sex couples becoming foster parents,” she says, making it clear that same-sex couples will be welcomed at the agency.
The process takes some months, people need to submit all sorts of information such as references, criminal record, tax statements and a thorough report. If and when the application has been accepted, the potential foster parents need to take a compulsory evening class to prepare for the role and to be evaluated by the specialists.
“After that, you can expect the phone call. Children are either placed in temporary care which is about 6-12 months, or permanent care which means they’ll live with you until they’re 18 years old.” There’s also the third option, supportive care, which is always temporary and only a source for children with specific behaviour problems and in those cases, at least one of the carers has to be a stay-at-home foster parent.
Bryndís emphasises that no matter what type the care, when a child is placed in your home you take on every responsibility that a parent has. And whether a couple is same-sex or not is never a factor, not even to the parents themselves.
“When a parent has to give up their child, they sometimes have requests about the fostering homes but I’ve never had anyone, no biological parent, object to their children being placed with a same-sex couple, that never seems to be an excuse for objecting to the foster parents we choose.”