We never stop in our house!
Most days, I get dragged from bed just after 6am by one of our three sons and the fun begins. It’s organised chaos in our house and it’s great. We’ve been through so much to get to where we are now, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
We are a party of five: two dads and three sons.
As a family we’ve journeyed through the typical highs and the lows you’d expect. Everything from nappies, teething and feeding to choosing schools, work-life balance and fun days out.
But we’ve also: trained to be parents, successfully adopted three times, explored therapies for children with explosive behaviour, filled out thousands of forms and learnt a lot about ourselves in the process.
We’ve met and made friends with fellow adopters, welcomed foster carers into our extended family, witnessed the joy of sibling contact and turned our world upside-down with three amazing little people.
Adoption has given us the family we always wanted, and we will be forever grateful.
It all started in 2013 when we got married, well at that time it was a civil partnership. We’d both always wanted kids; adoption was an attractive option because we liked the idea of giving a child in need a home.
We didn’t really do much research about agencies; we just went to our local County Council Adoption Services. We were nervous at first because we thought our sexuality might be an issue, but we were made to feel welcome and treated fairly.
As you would expect the process you have to go through in order to adopt is rigorous, in depth and sometimes invasive. But all children in care have been through trauma in some form or another, so it is vital they get the right forever families.
Once we were approved to adopt, the agency then started to look at children that we could be matched with. One of the biggest decisions we had to make was regarding age. We were advised that younger children and babies may form better attachments to us, but more is unknown about their needs. Older children may not attach as well, but there is a better understanding about their medical and educational requirements by then.
We decided we wanted a child under two years old and about a year after we initially applied, we took home our 10-month-old son. We were so happy and we felt our family was complete.
We were in awe of his foster carers – these people knew him better than anyone else so we made sure we kept them in our lives so they could support us and him. He already had a connection with them, and we weren’t going to break that – he’d had enough trauma in his little life already.
Fast-forward six or so years and we have adopted two more boys (2016 – an eight-month-old; 2018 – a six-month-old), both biological siblings of our first son. We always wanted a bigger family, and when siblings were born, we understood the benefits of keeping them all together.
The process didn’t get any easier – in some respects it got harder, because we had to justify why we could cope with two and then three kids, rather than one.
But if you think adoption is for you, I can confirm that the challenges of the adoption process disappear when you are holding your child for the first time.
As your attachment with them builds, you get to experience the amazing, all those unique firsts. Not the typical ones – their first tooth and first word – but the first time they feel safe enough to fall asleep in your arms, or the first time they reach for you for comfort.
Our lives are busy with a two-year-old, four-year-old and seven-year-old to keep us occupied. But watching them succeed, in spite of the start they had in life makes their achievements all the sweeter.
We are in contact with their three older siblings and arrange a meet up at least once a year for the six of them, we now have three sets of foster carers in our extended family so our kids can maintain those relationships, and we make sure we talk openly about our family with everyone in our lives. It is our normal and so far our family has been met with acceptance, and the occasional well-meaning curious individual.
Everyone has challenges in life, and with medical conditions, learning needs and developmental delay, our kids have a lot. But our kids aren’t a list of issues, they are people with their own unique life stories, and we love them fiercely and without question.