James and Mike have been together for 15 years. They met at university, and confirmed their commitment to each other through a civil partnership. Their thoughts have turned to family life. As Mike explains;
‘Being a dad is something I had always wanted – I like children and I love being in a family. Knowing that there are children who don’t have a family to care for them is something I knew I could do something about’.
James couldn’t agree more. ‘Like any couple planning a future together, we thought hard about what we wanted from our life together. Children were always part of our future.’
Mike made the first contact with Adoption Focus. Like any prospective adopter he was anxious about doing this and wondered how his enquiry would be treated. ‘As a gay man, I was concerned that this would be a barrier. What quickly became clear was that the key thing the social worker wanted to know was why I wanted to be a dad, who would support me and James in doing this, and whether or not I had any child care experience – it was all about the children, and what I thought I could offer - and whether or not my partner was also on board with adoption.'
Coming to the Preparation Groups put James and Mike in contact with other prospective adopters. Their group included a female couple, single people, and heterosexual couples. James said ‘we were a varied bunch, but we all had one thing in common – we wanted to be parents - and were there to find out how we could be the best adopters.'
The couple approached the process with cautious optimism. They had felt welcomed from the start, and knew that the bigger challenge was about working out what their strengths are, and how they would manage the transition to parenting. As the higher earner James decided that he would stay in his full-time job as a teacher. Mike would take advantage of full adoption leave with the potential to be a 'stay at home' parent for as long as he and their children found necessary. They have family who support their adoption plans, and couldn’t wait to be grandparents, aunts and uncles.
Once approved, Mike and James found themselves facing the difficult task of deciding which children they thought they could be the best parents to. James found this part hard ‘we were shocked by how many children there are who need new families. When I think about the times we had nearly talked ourselves out of even contacting an Adoption Agency – because we had convinced ourselves that they wouldn't want us – I shudder. Our two had been waiting for 18 months for new parents. All that time when we had been worrying about what people might think or say about us adopting, and our children were waiting for us to get our act together and just get on with it.'
And just getting on with it is what they're doing. Mike is a stay at home dad, and James has become very good at lesson planning and marking at school to make sure he's home in time for story time. Their children, Jodie and Sam arrived six months ago. Aged five and three, they come from chaos and neglect. They are thriving in a home full of love and care, and have a family which includes doting grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins to play with.