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Families beyond boundaries: Conceptualising kinship in gay and lesbian adoption and fostering

Child & Family Social Work

Published online on


This paper discusses some key findings taken from a qualitative study conducted with gay and lesbian adopters and foster carers in England and Wales. The study examined the experiences of 24 self‐identified lesbians and gay men, who had been involved in adoption or fostering processes since the introduction of the Adoption and Children Act, 2002. This article will explore why participants chose to adopt or foster and their approach to relationships generated through these routes. Findings indicate that gay and lesbian applicants troubled dominant conceptualisations of family and kinship and revealed both heteronormative and nuclear constructions of parenting within adoption and fostering social work. In contrast, participants often demonstrated a reflexive and creative approach to caring for looked after children. This paper will therefore consider how professionals can recognise nuanced or complex relationships, situated beyond traditional frameworks, through drawing upon wider concepts within sociological literature.