Eric and I always dreamed of having children but never really thought it was a possibility and that the closest we would get was being uncles or godparents. When we met each other we soon realised that this was one of the things we had in common. We began discussing parenthood and the various avenues open to us but felt that we had so much to offer in terms of helping a child who may not have had the best start in life that adoption was the best way forward for us.
We started the adoption process about three or four years ago and were pleasantly surprised by how straightforward it was. We saw an information event advertised by Diagrama and went along, where we met David, part of a same-sex couple, who had recently adopted a little boy. This was a very positive sign for us and we instantly felt that Diagrama would be supportive of us; so we decided to sign up with them.
The adoption application process
During our initial home visit with our Diagrama social worker we went through lots of information and answered loads of questions and in particular, if we had any significant events planned in our lives. We had been thinking about moving home and were advised to this before adopting to avoid unsettling our child, particularly in the early stages.
After the first part of the training we took a short break to move home. We wanted to be closer to friends so that we had a strong support network around us. We then continued with the second stage. The training helped us to identify our parenting styles and values and gave us great insight into the needs that an adoptive child may have. The process ran smoothly and we felt very supported by our social worker all the way through. We worked really well together and felt that she understood us as a family and had a clear picture of the type of child we were looking for. Nine months after attending the initial information evening we were approved as adopters and she then helped us to look for our child.
We started to look at profiles of children in need of adoption on the Adoption Match register and had regular meetings with our social worker. Although the process of finding our child felt long and frustrating at the time, it actually only took us five months. Our social worker supported us throughout and kept us positive by reassuring us that it was a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ we would find the right child to adopt.
Then one day we read the profile of a boy called Toby which struck chord with us. Our social worker had seen a more detailed report and showed it to us. Toby had had a troubled time which may have put some people off, but once you read further into his story you could see that thanks to the fantastic care he’d received in his most recent foster placement, he had made great progress and had turned a corner. Details of his personality and character were included in his profile and we were intrigued and eager to know more.
Our first meeting
We submitted our interest and were delighted when his social workers asked to meet us. The meeting went well and once they agreed that we were a good match, we got to hear more about Toby and see some video clips. We made a number of visits to meet him at his foster carer’s home. The first meeting was a bit daunting but exciting and he won us over with his charm and humour immediately.
We had originally thought that we wanted a child aged between three and five – but Toby was actually six when we met him. Due to his age and circumstances, we got to know him over a period of months before he moved in. When he first came home with us we all enjoyed a wonderful honeymoon period but as he settled and felt increasingly comfortable around us we slipped into a more challenging time. There were occasions when he would become distressed and angry and he had a few meltdowns, but our social worker really helped us get through these times. The support and training we’d received was invaluable in enabling us to understand Toby’s needs and how we could support him. We started to realise what the triggers were for his behaviour and how we could try and avoid them. It was just Toby’s way of testing the boundaries and to find out what would happen. He needed to know that he was safe and loved by us no matter what and that he could trust us.
We’re now much better at spotting the signs – we can usually resolve issues quickly without things escalating but I won’t deny it ... parenting can be exhausting!
Looking at Toby now it is difficult to imagine that he is the same boy who had such a sad start to life. He has shown true resilience and we are proud beyond words! Our families and friends love him to bits and we only ever hear positive things about him from school and the clubs he attends such as how kind and helpful he is and how important it is to him to know he’s doing the right thing. He’s very sociable and you would never pick up on the fact he has experienced so much trauma.
Having same-sex parents hasn’t really been an issue so far for Toby – in fact, he loves telling anyone who will listen that he has two dads! We do sometimes worry about how we will be perceived though, but we are lucky to have a very diverse network of friends and Toby appreciates that everyone is different and deserving of respect. There are loads of children’s books that explore these issues and lots of groups out there to help you. We’ve explained to him that what is important is the love within your family not who we are. Staff at his school have been very welcoming and supportive too. We’ve only ever experienced one problem when another parent made a comment but the Headteacher challenged it and reinforced the point that the school is inclusive and respectful of everyone’s differences.
Adoption support with Diagrama
Diagrama enables us to access extra support through New Family Social – a charity for LGBT adoptive and foster families and we’ve been to a number of their social events. It is a brilliant group and we love the fact that Toby gets to see there are many children out there who have same-sex parents. He is not alone.
Like any family we have our up and downs but the rewards of parenthood are priceless. We feel blessed that we have such an incredible son with whom we share so much joy, love and laughter. He is the centre of our universe and we love being able to support and guide him as he grows and witness the progress he makes. He has made our lives complete.
Jason and Eric have shared their experience as part of LGBT adoption and fostering week, which runs from March 5-11, 2018. If you would like to find out more about becoming an adopter with Diagrama you may be interested in attending our introduction evening in Chatham, Kent on March 7, or Croydon on March 21. You can also visit us at the LGBT Fostering and Adoption seminar on March 8 in London. Alternatively contact our team who will be able to answer any questions you may have and send you our introduction to adoption booklet.