Military charity helped LGBT couple with adoption

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HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN - JUNE 1: British Army Officer, Captain Alex Corbet Burcher from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards Regiment,attached to the Inkerman Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards Regiment patrols with ANA (Afghan National Army) Soldiers his area of operation during "Lastay Kulang" Operation" on June 1, 2007 in Sangin Valley, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. British troops from The Inkerman Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, part of ISAF Task Force Helmand, are mentoring the Afghan National Army while conducting security operations on behalf of the Government of Afghanistan in Helmand Province.(Photo by Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images)

Same-sex couple Sally and Zoe are now bringing up three baby boys. But how could they reach such a goal, considering also that fact, that one of the mothers, Zoe, was a military officer. And for them it is much harder)?

‘When we first started to think about adoption, we were living in Birmingham. We approached Birmingham City Council and the primary reason for them turning us down was that Zoe was in the military,’ Sally remembers. ‘Their concern was that we would obviously move and they wouldn’t be able to support us,’ Zoe adds, ‘In hindsight, we did move before we were matched with any children, so maybe they were right.’ Zoe joined armed forces in 1992 and did not think about creating a family, but in 1998 she met Sally, they entered civil partnership and decided to make their family full. ‘There are a lot of children out there that need support and a family,’ says Sally about their decision to adopt. ‘Neither of us particularly wanted us go through the whole bit of being pregnant, and it just seemed the most sensible way for us to do it at the time.’ ‘And I think if we’d had birth children, they’ll always be related to one of us and not the other,’ adds Zoe.

After being turned down by their local authority, Zoe suggested turning to the UK armed forces charity, SSAFA. In 2008, it helped Sally and Zoe to adopt three brothers, then aged 3, 4 and 9, and temporary relocated to Germany. SSAFA was able to offer support in a way that other adoption agencies couldn’t match. SSAFA can provide assistance almost everywhere where military personnel may be allocated. ‘They were very much on our wavelength,’ says Sally. ‘They were very understanding. Primarily, if we need any support, we fall back on SSAFA initially. They’re very good with their post-adoption support, and we’ve got good working relationships with the social workers.’ The couple also say that they’ve benefitted from Zoe’s position with the army in other ways. ‘I got the army’s adoption package,’ says Zoe, ‘which was 12 months leave, and then some additional parental leave. In the end I had 15 months off with the boys, which was brilliant.’ Both say that becoming parents has been challenging, but hugely rewarding.‘It was certainly a shock to go from no children to three!’ says Zoe. ‘I think just one child would turn your life upside down anyway. With three, there’s always one that seems to be falling out with the others! There are a lot of challenges, but it helps that I work in education so I’m off when the boys are off,’ says Sally.

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