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.

Moving in day

The day finally arrived, the 18th of Jan ’19! Our little guy was moving in and we were becoming a family of 3. There had been months of waiting for this day since we first saw his profile back in the summer.

We drove to his foster carers accommodation about half an hour from where we live. We arrived slightly early so messaged the foster carers to see if his social worker was there as well, no surprise but it was his old social worker and not his new one!! We walked up and knocked on the front door he was already and packed up. His old social worker gave us his passport, birth certificate and all the legal paperwork we need. We then said the goodbyes and left. It was all done super quickly as we were told it had to be. Kind of ripping off a plaster. I could see it was difficult for his foster carers, I was also fighting back tears. I knew and could see that it was difficult saying their byes to L he had been a massive part of their life’s for so long. Me and Ricky were and still are keen for them to be involved in his life because they were the first proper piece of stability he had. So we definitely will keep in contact with them.

We left their accommodation and headed for home. We had no plans to do anything that day other than spending the day at home and bonding with our little boy. We had lunch and chilled with him, playing in the garden and in his bedroom. He had dinner and got him ready for bed, we both read a story and stayed with him till he fell asleep. There was no crying or anything from him he didn’t even ask about his foster carers which was a little surprising, but also nice because it showed he felt safe and comfortable.

The first night was so difficult I don’t feel like I slept at all. I was checking on him constantly through the night making sure he was sleeping, breathing ok and all was good!!

It felt so surreal almost like a dream. We had waited so long for this to happen and now he was here. So many emotions were running through me. But I was so happy. Our family was now complete.

The life of a working dad

Another slightly of topic/track post!! So I had my first night shift back at work last night (I’m writing this post whilst waiting for my train home!!). I have done a day shift but that was fine, the little guy was at school and all was good, obviously I was busy at work and since I hadn’t been working since the new year I spent have my shift trying to figure out what I was meant to be doing. As well as getting to know all the new faces! Well tonight was a chilled night but I couldn’t help but feel like I was missing out. Major FOMO!

This is natural though…right? Although I had dropped him to school that morning it was going to be over 24 hours before I would see my little guy again, plus the mr had taken him out after school yesterday so that contributed to the FOMO!! But being away overnight just felt wrong, it was the first night that I had spent away from my newly made family. I know it was the first of many given my job and I always knew that I wasn’t going to be given the luxury of being a kept husband, but it was bloody hard.

The past seven months of being a dad have been difficult, naturally. Parenting an adopted child is so much more difficult. Even I didn’t really anticipate how difficult and challenging it would be despite the consent mentioning of this by our social worker, but then until your in it you don’t know. It’s been difficult having to explain things to others especially when they go “oh all children do that” hmm they might but this is different! Being with him everyday for the past 7 months has been amazing, challenging and questioning my abilities on a daily basis, but so worth it. The idea of going back to work properly in September is tugging on my heart strings. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!!! Or at least reassure me it gets easier!!!

The most tiring and full on day yet!!

So the day had arrived where we travelled up to have a day of information, we would soon learn that this would be a brain aching amount of information.
We drove 2 hours from our home to meet the agencies medical advisor. Our social worker met us there and told us what to expect. A week or two before this child appreciation day we had gone over the medical report again to prep us for this meeting and to figure out questions. We met the medical advisor and she went through the whole report, explaining his health as well as his mothers health from conception through to the present day. She also explained that they have no health details relating to his father. The medic was really thorough with the information that she gave us, there were some concerns and things to bear in mind relating to his educational development, but these are things to keep and eye on for when he was a bit older. Following the meeting we had a brief chat with our social worker and she wanted to know how we felt. For both of us there were no red flags or concerns at all. We knew that things can crop up over time but the main thing is that he is developing well and with the right support he should be fine in terms of his education. Yes there were naturally concerns given the information we got given about his mums health during pregnancy, the lack of care he got at home with his mum and of course the lack of information on his dads health, but there would be concerns regardless. Health problems can arise at anytime. At this point nothing was off putting for either of us.

We left the medical advisors office and headed to his school. It was another long drive (over an hours drive) to his primary school. I remember thinking that if we got approved to adopt him he’s going to have a huge change in terms of his environment. The schools surroundings were gorgeous, lots of green and huge spaces for the children to run around in. Completely different to West London!
All three social workers were there (ours, L’s social worker, and the family finding social worker), the local authorities virtual school teacher, the schools SENCO and his class teacher for the meeting. We got to hear how well he is performing academically and got to see some of his school work. We were asked about schools that we were looking at for him and explained that we were in the process of finding some local schools and will be visiting them shortly.
The SENCO took us on a tour of the school and the school grounds. Then, there he was!! We saw him! He looked so cute stood there in his school uniform looking back at us really confused, clearly wondering who these two guys were looking back and smiling at him!! I couldn’t believe it, he was gorgeous and watching him being cheeky and running around the playground I knew he was the little boy for us. Such a special moment, one that we still haven’t forgotten.
We asked his teacher for a list of his favourite books which we would get for him so that if/when he moves it they are ready to read to him.

It was time to head to our final part of the child appreciation day, we drove a really short journey to meet L’s foster carers. L wouldn’t be there for the meeting as we were not yet allowed to officially meet him. We met both his foster mum and dad, they were completely lovely. We were welcomed in to their house and shown through to the kitchen, their house was lovely. I remember joking with our social worker that L would have a huge shock!
We spoke with the foster carers and again all three social workers were present for this, although L’s social worker and family finding social worker had to leave early. Our social worker stayed with us for the duration of the meeting. His foster carers told us that he was doing well and was a loving, caring funny little boy. His behavior initially needed some work to improve but it dramatically improved once him and his brother had been separated. We spoke about how he was at school and how his home learning was. They told us about his health and that they had no concerns physically, but psychologically he was still having nightmares related to previous trauma however, this was improving day by day. 

The meeting went well, and we both felt very positive about all the information we were given, nothing was overwhelming, like I had imagined it to be. Yet this may have been because everything was very positive. It was suggested by the family finding social worker that we swap numbers so that we can see photos of L and keep up to date with how he is doing. We could also speak with the foster carers if we had anymore further questions. This sounded really positive, it came across as a slight hint that things were proceeding the right way. We left and had a quick chat with our social worker before we got into our cars and headed for home. She told us to keep open minded and to remember that yes, he might be great now but things can change later on in life, given what went on antenatally. In the car journey home we spoke about the information we had been given but we both had huge headaches from the amount of information we had been given but nothing had really changed our minds, we still wanted to go ahead and continue to the panel meeting which had yet to be decided. Such a great feeling. There was no change in how we felt, we still wanted to proceed with this process with L.

The next step would be the panel, which we were told would take place in the next few weeks. During this time we were advised to get on with finding a potential school, making the introduction book and DVD. Both of these were to introduce us to L, which would be shown to L by his foster carers’. The idea is that they have the DVD on in the background as well so that the child gets used to seeing your faces and hearing your voices. With the book the foster carers’ should be reading and showing the child the book daily. We knew he liked Lego and marvel superhero’s so we made it with bits of Lego and mini-figures of Lego superhero’s. In the book we had pictures of me and Ricky as well as close family members in there so that he knew who was who. Neither of us was sure on what we wanted L to call us, Ricky was keen on being called daddy but wasn’t fully sure, so we decided the best thing to do would be to call ourselves Daddy Chris and Daddy Ricky. This was probably not ideal but it seemed the best option at the time.
The book was great fun to make whereas the DVD was quite cringey. The thing was you’re talking to a child, who is not there and you don’t truly know, you have no idea what their personality is despite knowing everything about their upbringing and health but you’ve never met them.

We were now ready for panel!

The first match

We hadn’t really moved in to our new home for that long before our social worker arranged a visit to assess the house, to make sure it was ‘ok’ to have a child living here as well. She briefly looked around and checked all the rooms but was more than happy with everything. The check was very different than the first assessment we had!

After our social worker had checked over the house and said that she was happy, we all sat down to go over things. She wanted to know how things were and if we had done any additional learning. She said that her team had their matching meeting recently and had a possible match for us. I was desperately trying to hide my excitement but it wasn’t working, I knew I had the most biggest smile on my face as she said this. She went over some information and told us that the child was an 18month old little boy, mixed race. He was doing really well, and explained his background. She handed over his ‘profile’, my excitement went straight to disappointment. From looking at the picture I knew something wasn’t quite right, and all was confirmed when I looked at the health section of his profile. He had a chromosomal disorder.

I straight away questioned this with our social worker. She said the team felt given my work background (working in paediatric nursing) it was a good match as I have experience of this. What was this as a reason? I was fuming. I felt that we had been completely ignored in regards to what our matching requests were. We were looking for a healthy boy not one that was going to have both physical and emotional needs later down the line as well as significant learning difficulties. Granted I would be able to care for this child but I know emotionally I would be drained. It’s one thing to care for a child at work but also to be doing this at home as well is something else.

This match was not fair at all, and their reasoning for this was a load of BS to be honest.

For us it was an immediate no although she wanted us to think on it. Me and Ricky spoke about it between the two of us and I spoke with colleagues at work but our decision wasn’t going to change. I did feel really guilty for saying no. This little boy was in foster care and by saying no I had no idea what was going to happen once we said no. How long would he remain in care for? But it was the right decision.

For now it was back to looking for the right match, for us.

The beginning of stage two

Firstly I just want to say sorry for it being some time since my last blog post. Who knew how much time and energy the school holidays take from you!! One of the issues of adoption is that until the adoption order is granted you can’t leave your child with anyone at all, which meant that due to the mr working I had our little dude the whole time. Don’t get me wrong it was amazing, and we got to bond a lot, its just extremely tiring and a 18hr day at least 4 days a week is draining!!!! I thought my 12.5hr work shifts were tough. But it was amazing to see my little guy grow, we went swimming and did some baking, sight seeing. It was a fab easter.

So on to explaining the beginning of our stage two journey. Following the news of being approved to continue we were so happy, but this is where the work really begins. Stage one is predominately formal paperwork to ensure that you are suitable to progress on to the second stage.
We met our social worker at the apartment and she explained to us the stage two process. we were given a folder which again explained the process and the dates of the almost monthly meetings! We were also told that we would be attending a two day training day early on in this stage. Other potential adopters who were also in this stage would be attending however, they would be further on in the process than us along with some other social workers. The reason for us attending so early on was because they didn’t want to delay our application as the next assessment day was not for a while. We were told that these assessment days would consist of different elements such as role play, which is a huge fear of mine, it brings on massive feelings of anxiety and I just completely withdraw. I also don’t do well in group activities because of not knowing the other people. This assessment day seemed like it was going to be a complete nightmare for me. We were given some advice which was to be ourselves and not to try and second guess what the social workers were wanting from us.
Our new social worker also went over the forms that we completed in stage one which was what child we were looking for etc and if anything had changed. We decided that we were now looking to adopt a little boy and decided that we would be happy with an age range of 2 to 5 years. We wanted a healthy child,, we were given the tick box form back and we had multiple choice options which were not open to, would consider or yes would accept. We had to list from these multiple choice options what we could consider based on physical health problems such as Cerebral Palsy, emotional difficulties, learning difficulties such as Downs syndrome and mental health disorders. All of these included parental health such as maternal mother has learning difficulties or has a mental health disorder. The problem with this form was it is so very basic and some of the health disorders listed had such a large spectrum that it was almost impossible to tick that we would accept because we didn’t want to open ourselves up to much incase we then had to reject a possible match later and then have to explain why we couldn’t adopt that particular child.
However, after speaking with our social worker at length we agreed to mark that we would consider/be open to most of the conditions other than mental health. This was due to personal feelings after I had done a lot of research into parental mental health and genetics.

Between this initial meeting and the assessment day we had a few email communications with our social worker but one face to face visit to ensure we were ready for the assessment day, I think she could sense that I was anxious about this. She went back over the advice that she gave us as well and told us that there would be two other couples attending two day assessment along with two single female potential adopters. There would also be four assessing social workers. This did nothing to calm my nerves!!!