Becoming parents was always important to us. From the moment our relationship started we talked about parenthood and how much it meant to us to become parents – thankfully we were on the same page! A little background on us; we met 10 years ago and have been married for 5. We’ve had some difficulties growing up; Wes was born prematurely with mild Cerebral Palsy and Jack was diagnosed with autism in early childhood. It hasn’t been without its complexities but ultimately has empowered us as individuals and as a couple.
There’s been tremendous progress for same-sex and single parent rights and options which has thankfully made becoming parents a reality for us. We very much recognise and appreciate these triumphs.
At the beginning of our parenting journey, we explored our options and initially considered surrogacy. However, through research we understood that pregnancy is hard for women to go through. Not only taxing physically but emotionally too. We also recognised that fertility is complex, and we felt a sense of duty to not expect a woman to go through all the adversaries when there were other options we could explore instead, like adoption.
We didn’t dive straight into registering our interest in adoption. We wanted to make sure our chances of being accepted were improved by having things set in place prior to application. Our timing allowed us to be married with a house, secure financially and within our jobs and most importantly having a happy and steady life.
We officially registered interest in July 2018. We searched for the right agency, had plentiful adoption meetings and were paired with a social worker. FYI expect long meetings! One thing you aren’t warned about is how long meetings are, our first at the house being 3 hours long.
Months prior to approaching the approval panel, which is the first stage of adoption, we volunteered and underwent training courses. We knew our experience with children was limited and we wanted to best prepare ourselves. This helped improve our confidence and application for the approval panel. We’d recommend this to anyone inexperienced when wanting to adopt!
Stage one of adoption was admin heavy, having to provide paperwork, police checks, references, etc. We were given an 8-week period to gather then present the approval panel with all documentation. We felt some control during this stage, even though it was time-precious we were able to do this at our own pace. We also had to fill in what is commonly referred to as ‘the book’. This is an in-depth questionnaire which questions your perspective and thoughts on a plethora of topics surrounding parenting. It’s intense, difficult, and designed that way to make sure you are right for adoption.
With all required done, it was an elating moment to receive a yes from the approval panel! We then entered the family finding stage in the search for our future child. This is where you view profiles of children and register interest if you feel they are the right match. We originally requested a child from 1 year + as we understood newborn babies aren’t the ‘norm’ and wanted to expand our search as much as possible.
Little did we know that two weeks after the approval panel we would be met with the profile of a child who would later be our son. At the time he was only a few months old, which is not what we were anticipating as babies are hard to come by in adoption. He wasn’t the child we were expecting, but the child we wanted and the child we needed. It just felt right.
With our hearts set on our little boy we approached the matching panel and were elated to receive a unanimous yes. We also managed to get our matching panel in person before COVID restrictions were announced – a mere few days before! We were supposed to have 6 days of introductions before bringing our son home. This was to ease the transition for him as he had been with a foster carer since birth and was as much of a stranger to us as us to him. Unfortunately, due to COVID this couldn’t happen, and everything was put on hold. To say the least we were devastated. Would it be days? Weeks? Months? We spent hours every day on facetime to see our son and allow him to become familiar with our voices until we found out.
Thankfully in a matter of weeks the matching panel recognised it was within his best interest to be placed with us as soon as possible. We had to isolate for two weeks as per guidance which felt like the longest two weeks of our life.
The day arrived. He was ours and at his forever home sound asleep. We were anxious. Would he settle? It was uncharted territory for us all. When he woke up, heard our voices and smiled. Phew! What a relief! He was settled and happy.
From start to finish our adoption journey took what some would consider a long time, around 2-2 ½ years, but it was all worthwhile. At times it was hard not to worry that there may be ableist views given some of the hardships we faced growing up. However, thanks to the progress we’ve made as a society we’ve been able to become parents to our little boy and embrace all the highs and lows of parenthood.