A boy who credits his adoptive dads with completely changing his life is encouraging other families to do the same this LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week.
When he was just a toddler, Thomas (not his real name) was removed by police from a home in the Colchester area where he had been neglected.
Having been sent to investigate an anonymous tip-off that a young boy was being left alone, officers discovered Thomas padlocked in an upstairs room in complete darkness and very poor conditions.
After spending time in foster care, he was eventually adopted by male couple Steve and Paul (not their real names), and has gone on to enjoy a happy and loving childhood.
Thomas, now 12, said: “I was a bit nervous at first and sad to be leaving my foster family, but I was fine after that and thought my dads were awesome.
“They couldn’t be better parents and everything works perfectly.
“I think it is great to have a family and parents, and they give amazing cuddles.”
He added: “My friends don’t really care that I have two dads.
“There was one child that wasn’t very nice about it in year 7 but that all stopped very quickly and it’s never really a problem.
“If anyone else is thinking about adoption I’d say they should go for it because it makes a huge difference.
“It gives a child a family and a home, and they are the most important things in life.”
Thomas’ adoptive parents are also encouraging other LGBT couples to consider adoption this LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week, which runs from March 5 to March 11.
Steve said: “From our perspective going into it as a gay couple, we were worried at first about how the world would react.
“We were petrified our child would be bullied and people would react differently to us, but the whole process was absolutely outstanding and we’ve never had a problem.
“Your sexuality never even comes into it. Gay, straight, bisexual, transgender; it really doesn’t matter.
“Thomas says ‘I’m proud of having two dads and excited about it’, and that makes us so proud of him.”
He added: “Adoption is a wonderful journey and needs to be shared by so many more people.
“People say we changed Thomas’s life but he has changed our world. We were just a couple and now, through adoption, we are a family and he has given us purpose.”
About 13 per cent of the adopters approved by Essex County Council in 2016/17 were LGBT – above the national average of 10 per cent.
Cllr Dick Madden, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “Our fantastic foster families and adopters give safe and loving homes to hundreds of children every year.
“They come from all different walks of life and backgrounds, and we are very clear that sexuality is never a barrier.
“More adopters and foster families are still urgently needed and I would encourage anyone with the patience, time and commitment to help change children’s lives to get in touch with us.”
To find out more about adoption and fostering in Essex, please visit www.essexadoptionandfostering.co.uk or call 0800 801 530.