At The Dad Network we wanted to to provide a place to work with other dad bloggers. It seemed like we all had the same motivation and the same goal, so why not work together. We want to encourage and promote other dad bloggers in order to encourage and promote the role of dads within family life. On this occasion we hear about 2 dads story of gay adoption.
It’s still comparatively rare for male same-sex couples, and even more-so for single men to adopt children, which I find a tremendous pity, because us boys have a lot of love to offer – I’m sure you’ll all agree. So, by way of commandeering this marvellous blog today, I fly the flag for men who have a tiny niggling desire to find out more about adoption and I’ll share some of my experiences as an adoptive father (hopefully without waffling too much).
If you like what you read here, you can read more about our adoption adventure at our website DaddyandDad.co.uk or via Twitter @daddy_and_dad.
This is my new family – from left to right in this marvellous illustration; Lyall, Daddy, Dad and Richard. I’m Daddy (also known as Jamie to the grown-up realm), although unlike our family portrait over there, I no longer sport a head of beautiful blonde hair. Richard’s pictures of me always feature an elaborate yellow hair do, despite my follically challenged, well, completely bald really, head. Lyall’s five (I beg your pardon; nearly six, sorry Lyall) and Richard’s a very proud four and three quarters. Lyall and Richard have lived with Tom and me for seven months so far; collectively the best seven months of our lives.
So, first things first… let’s stamp out some crumby adoption misconceptions. Firstly, you don’t have to be in a straight married relationship to qualify for adoption.
Single people, or people in any form of loving, resilient relationship may apply, including straight, gay, bi, unmarried, non-religious, religious, disabled, able bodied, wealthy, not-so-wealthy (that’s me, tut), types. You get the idea. Anything goes, as long as you are able to demonstrate a comfortable, stable home. Secondly, relinquished (social worker lingo meaning ‘given-up voluntarily’) babies are few and far between and in-fact the majority of children in the care system are toddlers or pre-school age plus – it’s unlikely that you’ll adopt a new born baby.
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Lastly, the adoption process has a reputation for its convoluted, lengthy, complicated nature, a reputation which I’m afraid to say does have legs. However, provided that you find a good adoption agency or well-organised local authority and you’re happy to persevere, you will soon become a proud Dad and looking back, a year or two is an insignificant blip in the long-haul of parenthood anyway.
I won’t bore you with the intimate (gory) details of our adoption assessment just now, I’d be here all night writing it down (I might reveal the nitty-gritty in my blog if you’re lucky).
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However, one grey area of the adoption process which I’d like to enlighten you about, an activity that Tom and I certainly used to worry about is Family Finding. Family Finding happens after you’ve been assessed and approved as potential adoptive parents and looking back we now describe Family Finding as ‘Choosing our children’. It’s a surreal time in one’s life, whereby Sunday broadsheets, Facebook and Twitter are temporarily replaced by hundreds of profiles of adorable little children in various publications that arrive in the post and online. One such publication is Be My Parent; a newspaper containing heartfelt stories and photographs of children who are difficult to place with adoptive parents. It’s emotional, and you do find yourself wondering if you can afford to convert the back of the house into six bedrooms to enable you to adopt all of them, I mean, what use is a kitchen anyway? The difficulty is that while you feel a connection with all of the featured children, you do have to decide what characteristics your children are ideally going to have – what gender, skin colour, if they’re going to have siblings, their maximum age, level of ability and mental development, hair colour; I mean, the list is unbelievably long and once you’ve decided what you want, you need to try to stick to it. It’s bloody hard. Eventually though, if you stick like glue to your preferences, one profile will land on your coffee table and will resonate. For us, Richard and Lyall’s profile arrived via an email one morning while I was at work. I put down my notepad and pen, opened the email, glanced at the picture of the two handsome blonde little chaps and, hand to my chest and a tear in my eye, I read their emotional story. The profile was entitled “Richard and Lyall, playful loving brothers”. I was enchanted. I immediately emailed Tom to say, ”Tom! Look at these beauties – they’re our boys!” It’s an email that I still return to some twelve months on with great sentiment.
If you’d like to find out more about adoption or take the first step on your adoption journey (don’t worry, you won’t be committing yourself to anything) start here: http://www.baaf.org.uk/agencies – it’s a useful database of Adoption Agencies. The agencies are inspected by Ofsted, so you can see how they’re getting on before you start. You don’t have to pay anything to use an adoption agency, by the way, it’s free. Or, if you’re just being nosey and would like to keep up with the adventures (and mis-adventures) of our little family, follow our blog at DaddyandDad.co.uk.
Well done for this great blog Jamie: it’s very well written, informative and encouraging for others. Clear information for alternative families is crucial and those of us with personal experience are well placed to offer this to others. Congratulations. I am Al’s gay uncle Charlie who wrote a guest blog about being a gay granddad – you may have seen that? I’m also a psychotherapist, writer and trainer, a dad to two men and a co-parent for an eleven year old. I wonder whether you know of our newish quarterly magazine for alternative (lgbt) families, ‘We Are Family’. We’d love you to contribute to that I’m sure so do contact Hannah Latham, the editor and say I recommended you (www.wearefamilymagazine.com). Also you might be interested in my own latest book, ‘The Marrying Kind? Lives of Gay & Bi Men Who Married Women’ (Amazon/Kindle). Thanks again for this contribution and I hope we might keep in touch now. All the very best, Charles
Thanks, Charlie. Yes I loved your contribution; emotional stuff. I’m absolutely fascinated by people who (I hope you don’t mind me saying) grew up in a far more difficult time for gay men. I believe that it’s thanks to people like you who live an open life with integrity that I’m now (almost) able to enjoy full equality. I’ll contact We Are Family magazine – I’m just getting started with writing and enjoying the extra exposure – writing’s something I had no idea I’d be able to do but early feedback has been very encouraging! All the best. Jamie. PS I’ll buy your book! x