Its been a minute guys since my last post, but in between dealing with multiple things myself and the mr have launched our website. All blogs will now be posted over there and one will be launched in the next few days.
WordPress has been a great starting point for raising awareness to adoption and LGBT+ parenting, and initially promoting my book. But it’s now time to move on and have all projects under one roof with links to all pages as well as getting ready to launch a project in the next month or too.
For those of you who register notifications for posts you will be able to do the same on the new site. This page will stay online for a few weeks before being deleted. In the meantime why dont you head over to our site and let me know what you think using the feedback and contact links…………the link is below.
Wow what a crappy year 2020 was!!! Started on a high following our first family Christmas and New Year, we were looking forward to having our first family summer vacation with the in-laws but COVID had other plans!!!
But a positive of 2020 I actually accepted and finally opened up to those close to me about my mental health struggles which had come to a full on crisis last month to the point where I was drinking more, not eating properly (whether not eating at all or bingeing), going to very dark places, feeling that it might be better for those around me if I wasn’t around anymore. I held on to a lot of guilt and self hatred for the family separation during the initial part of the coronavirus pandemic.
It all came to a peak when I developed a ‘exit plan’, this is when I scared me I knew I needed to speak to my Gp and get some help, I spoke with my work and decided to get signed off sick. I knew it wasn’t safe for me to be there and I needed to actually take some to focus on myself and my family. After talking to my immediate family on how I was feeling, speaking with my therapist and the community psych nurse as well as starting a new medication I started to feel a tad better. I’m still not feeling back to myself but I am in such a better place than that I was say at the end of November.
But there is something about being a dad that makes this so much harder. Society dictates that as a Dad your not allowed to feel certain ways, and dads are often overlooked. For me there’s also the explanation that I’m a gay dad which is either responded to with raised eyebrows or that’s amazing….which I find patronising. Adoption as well just adds a lot more stress and pressure, adopted children come with a traumatised history, emotionally they are not the same age so when they have an emotional meltdown and you handle it in a therapeutic manner those around you tend to not understand and label it just ‘naughty behaviour’. This is also a parenting technique which isn’t associated as a norm for a dad. Modern day dads are hands on with parenting (regardless of parenting technique), housework, involved in their education and it’s still not deemed normal in society.
But thanks to the wonders of the online adoption community, LGBT community and the online dads community (namely the Dad AF app) have been amazing. There’s a world of support out there, and we dads have to be that pillar of support for each other as not many others get it.
So it’s national adoption week 2020, and our second time celebrating it as adoptive parents.
Our adoption journey has had many ups and downs, but would I change our experience? Not at all!! I’m writing this blog post led next to the little man watching him sleep after reading his bedtime story. Times are tough at the moment, he returned to school in the beginning of September but due to 3 episodes of having to self isolate he’s only done roughly 2 weeks of school. His routine is all up in the air, and it’s affecting him and me quite a bit. During the adoption process it’s mentioned constantly that routine is vital in creating a secure attachment, it makes the child feel safe, secure and loved but it’s bloody difficult in these times when even I don’t feel fully safe.
I have been honest I when it comes to talking about mine and the mr’s adoption journey. Adopting is such a special thing but it’s not those becoming adoptive parents who are special, or amazing, or honourable (I’ve been called all those things, which are not at all true) it’s the children that are all of those qualities. For me I am honoured to be the dad to such an amazing, kind, caring and special little boy.
It’s a difficult time for many families and for pre and post adoptive families even more so as many of our professional support services are working remotely and being done if possible virtually. But the adoption community is such a strong and supportive community, I am so lucky to have found a number of adoptive parents through Instagram as well as support through social media from charities such as Adoption UK.
Would I recommend adopting? If your thinking of it, then definitely. Would I adopt again? Definitely. Do I have any regrets? Not at all. There are many myths about adoption but these are completely untrue (see my last blog for these myths). In my last blog I listed a load of resources that I have found super helpful during my adoption journey but also that I have used following the placement of my little dude. If you are thinking of adopting check it out, and check out my book and Insta page (you can find the links to these on my word press home page).
An amazing campaign in the UK launched yesterday. The aim of this campaign is to dispel the myths of what stops people from adopting and to encourage those thinking of adopting to take the first steps in their journey.
During mine and my husbands adoption journey we came across people who had been hesitant in the past to register with local authorities or agencies because of reasons like they would be single adopters, they don’t earn enough or because they rent their home instead of owning it. These are all myths. I’m so happy that this campaign has begun as their are so many children waiting for homes as well as children deemed ‘hard to place children’ because of their background, previous broken down placements or because they are over the age of 4 which is crazy, this means that our little boy was within this category as he had just turned 5 when he was placed with us. At the time of me typing up this blog there are currently over 2500 children waiting on the adoption list of which 28% have been waiting for their forever home for over a year.
There are common myths of why people can’t adopt such as being single, having a disability, not owning their home, not earning enough money, not having a spare room. But these are all myths. The only requirements in the UK are that you are over 21 years of age and are resident in the UK. Criminal record checks (enhanced) are done so make sure you declare any convictions to your social worker. Also as long as your in good health including mental health all should be good.
For us all these things were fine. I have a history of anxiety and depression but this was not a problem once I opened up and spoke about it with our social worker. This was difficult initially just because it’s not something at the time I talked about, but it’s totally worth it if it gets you further along the adoption process. My tip to you just be honest and open with your social workers, this is what they are looking for from you during the pre approval phase. It also helps you as well, because of my history our social worker checked in more with me during the early days of little mans placement to make sure that I was coping ok.
Check out these sites they also have social media accounts, I really recommend Adoption UK’s Instagram account. I have found this super helpful, there is also a great adoption community on Instagram to. Plus there is also my book (available on amazon). Also feel free to reach out to me if I can ever be of any help.
We all know that adoptive children will naturally suffer from emotional trauma and emotional damage. That is a given fact, just based on what they have gone through prior to the match with adoptive parents. During the adoption process we were given loads of info on this and attended workshops and training sessions on trauma. But none of this could ever prepare me for the heart shattering crying and screaming that I would hear this evening when I left for work.
I have a night shift tonight and Ricky is at work which normally means a little ‘battle’ with the little man to allow us to leave the house.
I did the sit down with him and we talked about suggestions of what he could do in the short time between me leaving and Ricky coming home. Win!!
We came up with ideas but when it came to me opening up the front door that’s when the screaming began. Our family friend pick him up and held on to him, when I closed the door I heard him screaming for him to be let go and I saw his little hands against the blurred glass of the front door. My heart shattered, I couldn’t leave him this way and I had to go back in. Even if his crying last 5 minutes. Yes, this was more for me than for him, but my heart just wouldn’t let me walk away. As a dad I can’t just walk away when my child is in a traumatised state.
In my previous blog posts I have mentioned my little guy has been through so much up turn in the last 5 months. What he knew as his new norm following the adoption and that things for him were just settling everything has now been blown up and we are back to many temporary situations: temporary home, temporary work situations as well as just not knowing what the future will hold and how long everyone’s new norm will last for. And I feel that I am mostly to blame for this, which is why I want to be there to support him when he is in these moments and feeling vulnerable. I feel that this is not just because of how I feel that I am to blame for all the changes he has experienced but because I was his main caregiver – the stay at home parent for the 9 months before I went back to work.
This is not just standard parenting feelings but this is the reality of parenting an adopted child with backgrounds of emotional trauma and neglect amongst other things. It’s shit and it’s tough more so on us as adoptive parents. But, the love, the want to protect them, and attachment is real and it’s strong. Maybe how I have acted this evening is showing this. I don’t know but it’s my reality at the moment and my mind is swirling in what it’s….mainly what if I am not doing the right thing? Or is that my anxiety? I haven’t a clue and probably never will know what is truly going on in that little lads mind.
I’m not sure what I am getting out of this waffle of a blog post. I guess I just wanted to show my reality and cast a light on the traumatic side of adoption. I want to help normalise adoptive families and LGBT families as I feel our types of family aren’t fully ‘normalised’ or ‘understood’ properly in today’s society.
Thanks for reading this waffle. Any advice is welcomed. Hit me up on either here or my Insta account.
Well, hi guys! Its been a while since my last blog post, I think probably around 6 months and as I’m sure as you all know the world is a crazy ass place at the moment what with the massive spotlight being placed on inequalities in our communities around the world (and rightly so). Despite me being a white male being gay, having an Indian husband, working in a mostly female dominated environment and being a gay dad I have been subjected to many different varieties of prejudice and discrimination, as I’m sure you can imagine or may have even experienced. The LGBT community faces a lot of different issues compared to other communities for example 52% of the LGBT experience depression, 72% of bisexual women and 56% of bi men have experienced anxiety (Stonewall 2018). Further to this 25% of the global population believe that being LGBT should be a crime (Stonewall 2016), here is a link to these stats https://www.stonewall.org.uk/media/lgbt-facts-and-figures
Very early on in my career being a male in a paediatric nursing environment it is pretty much assumed that you are gay regardless of who that person is, the assumption comes from patients, parents, families and colleagues. Fast forward to the present things are still the same, there is this perception/stereotype that male nurses are gay, it’s just a crazy perception thing, probably tracing back to those standard childhood chats (normally from grandparents – mine definitely were like this) that girls are nurses and boys are doctors.
During the adoption process there was naturally a tonne of support from friends and family, our agency mentioned multiple times during meetings that they were the first London adoption agency that took one prospective adopters from the LGBTQ+ community. It felt that they were using this to sell their adoption agency to us and basically saying that they were the best adoption team out of the other London boroughs. Following on from this and once we were matched and having to look at schools there was that worry and to be completely honest a paranoia about double and even triple checking that the schools we were considering for our little boy ensured that diversity, inclusion and equality were factors that they exceeded in, so that we knew this would be a safe school for our little guy and for us as two gay dads who would be attending his school for all events. But also to see what they knew about attachment was as this is something that would ensure they could understand what was going on with our little guy.
Its been great to see that over the course of our adoption journey and since we have been a family of 3 how much societies attitudes have changed towards same-sex parenting. naturally there are people who we have come across who have made comments or given us disapproving looks when we have been out, some people have even commented saying that they don’t understand how two dads can parent a child. Luckily early on we found a national group called New Family Social where LGBTQ+ families can meet up with your children, this not only allows your children to play with other kids in the same situation (adopted and who has gay parents), but you get build up your social and supportive network from those who understand what it is like to be in a same-sex relationship and be a parent. Being around those who are in the same/similar situation helps to build your confidence but also brings some normality into your life and this is beneficial to your whole family. Having those around you who understand what it is your going through makes life so much easier especially, like me, as you can feel very alone and isolated.
There are a few resources available to help teach children about acceptance and diversity when it comes to LGBTQ issues, below is a list of resources that I have used with the little man to help teach him about equality and diversity, and not just in terms of LGBTQ+ rights & equality:
Books by Olly Pike. Olly has written 5 books that focus on LGBTQ+ issues as well as interracial relationships. Check out this link to see his books and other resources, my little man loves his books. https://www.popnolly.com
Pride. This is a great book teaching children about the meaning of pride and why it exists.
Auntie Uncle. Such a great book about a little boy who’s uncle goes out to work in the day but at night he becomes a fabulous drag queen!! Cant wait to get round to reading this to him.
And Tango Makes Three. This is a cute book about two gay penguins that bring up their son. Super cute which my little dude loves.
We are family. This is a sweet little book that talks about 8 different families of different backgrounds, sexualities and abilities.
Stories for boys who dare to be different. This is an amazing book about famous males such as Barack Obama, David Attenborough who struggled to begin with either in their upbringing or in their careers but made it big in the end! A great book to show children that if you struggle at first keep going because you’ll make it.
I think as long as we start to teach our children that people are different and start to get them to accept difference and diversity we can help change peoples perceptions from the beginning. My little dude is a total example of this, we have help create one of the biggest LGBTQ+ allies going, he loves everything to do with pride and rainbows!
Also for those going through the adoption process or know people who are going through the process/thinking of adopting, my first and second book editions are still available on amazon. Check out my previous blog or my website for the link to them.
So on Saturday just gone, it had been a year since squidge had moved in with us. It has been a year of just having our dream son, and a whole year of constantly hearing “Daaaaaaaaad”. I cant believe where this year has gone already its completely mind-blowing. Also so scary because it really hurts to see him growing so quickly, he’s not the little squidge that he was when he moved in just over a year ago.
The one consistent thing that has been going on on, and probably will be an ongoing thing, is that I have learnt so much. There has been a super amount of self reflection, lack of sleep because of this. I have realised that all of the learning and prep work that you go through during the adoption process is the tip of the iceberg and until your parenting a child who has gone through psychological trauma (no matter how bad it is) will you realise how tough it actually will be. We have been through the mill lately with behaviour problems, generally not listening to us, feeling like absolute shit parents at times. Countless times I have felt like a complete failure, and to be completely honest I still do, but its a two way street, he needs to feel like we will be there for him. After many discussions with our social worker and our lovely psychologist who is working with us, I’m starting to remind myself that he is testing me and that he still does love me. I think that since this is all within the last few months its partly because he is now so settled and comfortable with us as his parents that he feels able to act out. Also, I was that constant figure in his life, for around 8months I never left his side, unless he was at school or if Ricky was with him, I was present for the good, the bad and the downright ugly moments in his life. But now I have returned back to work his life has changed again and his security barriers have now risen. He is still adjusting to that. Unfortunately, my job is not a 9-5 Monday to Friday job, I work 12.5hr shifts, days and nights as well as weekends so its a major adjustment for him and for me I am bearing the brunt of it. And it’s bloody difficult.
But I am super proud of this little guy, he has adjusted amazingly to his new life and all the changes that he has had to endure, change of house, change of parents and extended family, change of school and a change of his environment. He has taken it in his stride, and done so well. Academically he is acing it, he’s made a great circle of friends at school and is wanting to have some playdates with his friends. So proud of him for this.
Despite being told by many social workers that we will not get our dream child and that we wont have our dream family, we did. And I wouldn’t change a thing about him, he is truly the son I dreamt of.
Hey guys! So just over a week ago, November 15th, it was our the initial court hearing to finalise our adoption of L. We had been told by our social worker that this was the initial hearing and that it could be likely that it would be more than one hearing, meaning that we probably wouldn’t get the adoption court order until the new year. Obviously we would have loved to get this in before Christmas, so that our first Christmas together would be as an official family.
So on the Friday as we were sat in our local hospitals peads outpatient department waiting for little man to see his asthma consultant, our social workers were sat in court putting forward the case for us to adopt L officially. We had been told that we would get a phone-call to let us know the outcome of the case, as we were driving home I just happened to check my emails to see one from our social worker. Part of me didn’t want to open the email that just had the subject heading “Adoption Hearing”, I just remember thinking “what if it was bad news?…..what would would we do next?”. Anxiety was sky high, I felt that my chest was going to explode because of palpitations. I took a huge deep breath and opened the email, followed by a high pitch oh my god. Ricky and L both were going “what, what, what” I told them that the judge has said yes, I turned around and said to L the judge has said you can live with us forever and ever. L just looked at me, his. face started to go red and he let out a huge scream and shouted yes and goes “so I don’t have to move home again” This has been something that he has been worried about incase this wasn’t his forever home and his forever family, this time of year has always been the time he would be moved on to a new home and family so naturally its not a time of year where he feels completely safe. I could see a sense of relief in his face amongst every other emotion running through him. There was a few calls that we made straight away to immediate family members and close friends all of which consists of screams, sighs of relief and shouts of yay! There was just a feeling of being overwhelmed and relived at the same time. The final step will be the celebration hearing where we get our certificate and say our goodbyes to our social workers.
Although I am so happy that L is now officially our little boy and that we are not sharing parental responsibility with his local authority and his mother (although this is honorary parental responsibility) there is this feeling of worry. We have had such great support from social workers especially our social worker and L’s previous social worker but in a couple of weeks this will go. We wont have them at the end of the phone or be able to drop them an email for help and support, instead we will have to go through the process of post adoption support. Having heard of peoples experiences with this there is such a wait for support and this is what worries me. I get so anxious about things like this, and our social worker knows this and has always been able to support me with this so the idea of not having her at the end of the phone is a scary thought. But on the other hand this means no more visits, having to make sure that they are up to date with the smallest of details such as informing his social worker of medical appointments etc, and having to say he has a social worker on those A&E visits (which L has made us attend on so many occasions over the past 10 months!!) followed by those suspicious looks from health professionals, this will be no longer. For now we can move forward on our own path without the need of including those extra professionals.
This is now the end of those formalities of our adoption journey, we have our little guy and can now begin building our lives as a family, it’s a scary but super exciting time. I suppose this is the start of our family live.
Hey guys sorry its been a while since I last posted. General life things getting in the way and I’m having to manage my time much more effectively since retuning to work, and making sure I’m spending as much quality time with the little man as I possibly can.
So some people have asked me how we talk about adoption with L considering his age etc. To be honest, we don’t hide that we have adopted him. We talk openly about his mum and his nan whenever he wants to, and only when he brings it up. The way I see it is that he has a mum and other family members out there so he has every right to talk about them. To be honest we will only bring it up when it’s close to the time to send the contact letter which is now every year, we sent a settling in letter shortly after he moved in. At the moment he has asked whether he is moving to a new home soon and he has even asked his social worker the same question, which naturally makes me feel for him and just end up giving him a huge cuddle. We did go through a phase a few months ago where he appeared to be settled and talking/worrying about moving to a new home didn’t come up, but recently it has. I can only think to put this down to my recent return to work, another change which he will have to overcome. We did prep him and he still has an item of mine to look after (its still a magnet from the fridge – which hasn’t changed if you read my last blog post!!). But after speaking with our social worker it is very common for children to take one step forward and 4 steps back, so it will take time for L to remember and believe that this is now his forever home and not another placement.
When we have spoken about his past and things like his previous foster placements we have used his toy car mat to talk about it (something which was suggested by our social worker). On his car mat we used different areas to show where he had been, so his mum and nan’s before ‘driving’ over to his first foster carers (his emergency placement) then ‘driving’ over to his second and last foster placement before ‘driving’ over to his forever home (ours). He often uses another car to talk about his brother as they were separated in their last placement. This allows him to understand his past and his previous placements, but also allows him to talk about it in a more relaxed nature and to talk as much or as little as he wants to. But this is just one of many other methods out there but its what works for us!
With L having two dads we obviously want to talk and teach to him about other types of families to teach him about diversity. He has always been open and shows understanding about difference. He has previously asked questions about different religions but not really on him having two dads or other children having a mum and a dad etc. But we have come across some great resources that teach children about difference, I thought that it would be helpful if I listed them below. These are all ones which we have read to L or utilised them when talking to L about difference, and he has taken them all in with no issues.
1) Olly Pike. This guy is a genius, he takes a new twist on old bedtime stories such as the princess and the frog etc. Olly has 5 books of which we have 3 that we read to L (Kenny loves with Erica and Martina, The Prince and the Frog, Prince Henry) . The talk about diversity from race and LGTBQ+ themes. L loves these books especially Kenny Lives with Erica and Martina as well as The Prince and the Frog, these stories really connect with him which is amazing. Olly focuses his books on teaching children about love, relationships, diversity and equality. With each book there is also the option of checking out his youtube channel for more education, or as he calls it edutainment!. Definitely worth checking out.
2) Two Dads. This is a cute little colourful book about two dads. It is written from the perspective of their adopted child. This is a super cute little book, perfect for bedtime reading.
3) And Tango Makes Three. This is another cute little book, which little man loves. its about two gay penguins in Central Park zoo who, want to start their own family, with the help of a zookeeper their dream comes true. A super sweet little book.
4) Daddy, Pappa and me. A lovely bedtime story book focussed on the life of a toddler and his two gay dads.
These books have really helped with teaching L that difference exists and that’s what makes people special. Hopefully these will work for you too.
So last week I went back to work after having just over 9 months off work as adoption leave, minus my 3 keeping in touch shifts. It was the worst feeling of my life, my stomach was doing somersaults. Knowing I wouldn’t see my little guy for 3 days straight was heartbreaking. When I picked up L the day before I was due to go back to work he told me that he would miss me, this was like a bolt of lightening through my heart. Both me and Ricky had prepped little man that I was going back to work and told him that I wouldn’t see him for 3 days. Although we changed this to sleeps instead of days as this is easier for L to understand. This made him so upset thinking he wouldn’t see me again. It’s important to be honest and give him the time to prepare and understand so that it’s not a shock but also to help him understand the change that’s about to happen.
Right up till the beginning of this month I was longing to go back to work to reclaim my identity, even though being a dad would remain part of my identity I just didn’t want to be known as a stay at home dad. Thats not me at all, I’m by no means a domestic goddess, I hate cleaning with a passion and I don’t think the husband would be happy with me remaining on the couch all day!!
I woke up that morning with my 5am alarm screaming at me, got ready and headed out for the commute to work (minus my uniform as the dad bod is on point at the moment!). The minute I left I felt a huge amount of guilt rushing through me. Me and the little guy had spent almost every day together for almost the past 9 months near enough, leaving him just felt wrong and knowing that I would not see his little face for the next 3 days was awful. Most people that I spoke to were super supportive of this saying that it will get easier yet with adopted children its that layer of trust that is so important. Everyone prior to me and Ricky have just ‘left’ him with no explanation given to L. So then not seeing L for 3 days straight was breaking that trust that I have managed build up with him over the past 9 months, but also making him feel less secure as this is another major change going on in his life. This is why I felt so guilty leaving him, and to be honest I still do. I know that its completely impossible for me not to work, unfortunately I don’t have that luxury.
I spoke with our psychologist about this and she suggested that I give him something of mine for L to look after whilst I am at work, so I gave him one of my fridge magnets, I left it on the coffee table in the living room with a little note. Apparently, according to our psychologist, research has shown that children who have been adopted, will believe that you will return for the object instead of returning for them, this made me feel horrible knowing that this is probably what he thinks. But it worked. I saw him on the Saturday morning and he gave me back the magnet and said that he looked after it for me, taking it to school everyday, followed by telling me how much he had missed me asking me not to return to work. This made me feel so guilty, unfortunately due to my working hours I don’t get to see him before he goes to bed, yet when working a night shift I at least get to pick him up from school.
It was great to see work friends again and feel like I am more than a dad (although this is something I completely adore, but I felt like I was missing my identity), and have some routine back again. Yet, the idea of leaving my little boy again for so long is heartbreaking, even just the small non-fun things like cooking his dinner and the arguments of why he has to brush his teeth!!. Is this just me? Does this actually get easier? I feel that most well, actually all of my worries and anxiety about this is because I know that he has only really adjusted to the changes he has gone through and now I’m throwing more change at him, and this time its me making him adjust!!
I guess only time will let me know whether I can handle these crazy shift hours and not seeing my sidekick or not.