#YouCanAdopt Campaign

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.

There are many charities out there which help those going through the adoption process: 1) Adoption UK – https://www.adoptionuk.org 2) Banardos – https://www.barnardos.org.uk/adopt?gclid=CjwKCAjwkoz7BRBPEiwAeKw3q1DIeOsNChJhQC53DQnJ2njmc4AlS5NdMAFCjJT7afTI_bvHYyXXghoCT1IQAvD_BwE 3) Action For Children – https://www.actionforchildren.org.uk/fostering-adoption/find-out-more-about-adoption-ppc/?gclid=CjwKCAjwkoz7BRBPEiwAeKw3q5V2sFCfRmxpVdwdggFF2WV81RRdK6zfr4wk5LYNathvSixp8EgLEBoC9RMQAvD_BwE. 4) You Can Adopt – https://www.youcanadopt.co.uk

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.

A whole year of being a Dad!

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.

Its now official

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.

My top resources and tips for talking about adoption and diversity with your child

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.

The feelings of being a working Dad

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.

The first few months

It’s been so long since I last posted up a new blog. Sorry, it’s our first ever summer holiday and time just flies by. I was so worried that little man would be bored and I had no idea what to do with him during these 6 weeks but time has flown by I had no reason to worry. But don’t they just crave your attention?!?!?!?!

It has been 8 months since our little guy moved in. There have been many ups and many downs, in these 8 months, naturally most of these began once Ricky went back to work . But from talking to many parents this appears to be a very common thing!

The first couple of weeks we had regular visits from social workers, ours and L’s, to check and see how things were going. Making sure we were all settling down and that L was settling in ok. Things were going well he seemed to settled in very quickly with no major problems, sleeping super well like 12hours a night which was amazing!! We had a few trips out to local parks and in to town to go and check out the natural history museum. He loved it even the simple things like just getting the tube. He was adapting to his new life with us really well, we did two school visits with him, the first did not go very well at all, he freaked out and was clinging on to me and Ricky, the second visit went much better, it was more of a 1:1 session with his teacher, even getting her on to the climbing frame with him! The second visit was a push to get but it was very much needed and went really well.
It felt amazing to finally be a family, even though we were still having regular contact with his social workers it was great.

So all the drama and downs started with L becoming unwell shortly after Ricky had returned to work and during L’s first week at school. Well he has had multiple health and sickness problems. In the first few weeks he developed scarlet fever although this was only confirmed after multiple GP visits including out of hour GP visits and a urgent care visit, he then had bacterial tonsillitis which was horrible and hit him really hard sot this was 3 A&E visits and more recently head injury where he somehow fell up the stairs.
We knew that it is really common for adopted children to have behavioural issues but this is something that we have struggled to handle with our little guy. He tends to lash out at himself, he will pull his hair really hard, throwing himself to the floor when he’s told no or gets upset as well as hitting himself. There could be multiple reasons for this after finally speaking with a psychologist (which took a lot of pushing on our part and bringing this need up with the independent social worker in his LAC review) she has said he has missed out on a lot of care and input in his early life. She believes that he is 3-4 years of age in terms of his emotions and mental well-being.

Adjusting to life has been difficult, for me, I suppose many new parents would say the same thing. But adoption brings about its own individual dilemmas, depending on the child. For me I used to pile on the pressure to be just the best dad ever, I had dreams of what we could do during the days and just imagined this almost perfect life, but this was far from the truth. I didn’t realise how much my life would change, going from being a husband and working to being at home. This was worse when L went to school, I would often find myself alone at home waiting to go and pick him up from school. I felt like I had lost my identity. The lack of adult contact and adult convo has been very hard. These are things that you just don’t realise are going to happen and that you will feel kind of alone and isolated. Me and L took sometime before we found our click possibly because of in the beginning I was dealing with his sickness and all the other problems that arose over time such as his dental pain and I kind of withdrew because I felt the was something missing in mine and his relationship. We hadn’t found something in common which all changed when I started taking him swimming.

There are many issues with adoption and I think once the child is matched most social workers will be involved in the first month or so then they disappear and you get the odd catchup phone call here or there. But this is when it’s the most stressful time. All this being said I can not wait until we get the court order and he is legally ours. We can relax and enjoy being our little family. Adopting this little boy has been the best decision we have ever made.