Jake and Ben
Jake and I met in 1999. We lived in Australia for three years, came home and had our civil partnership in 2006. After many years of thinking that we wouldn’t be able to adopt, we finally decided that it was something we really wanted.
We began by investigating the ins and outs of adoption and by going to some open evenings. During this process we saw a photo and profile online of two beautiful boys that immediately grabbed our attention and helped us decide that we would like siblings and two boys. In fact, we talked about them a great deal and when their picture and profile disappeared it was with a mixture of happiness that they had found a home and sadness that we wouldn’t see them again. We carried on our research and went to a meeting with our local council who we really liked to take us through the application and approval process.
As we were preparing our application the same photo and profile reappeared on another council website. It dawned on us that they hadn’t found a home and were clearly still looking. After much debate and some convincing from a friend we decided to get in touch – they could only say no. One email later, we were on the phone to a lady who would become our social worker. A week later, we had three of her wider team sat around our kitchen table asking about us, checking out our home and telling us a bit more about the boys. I’ll never forget seeing a video of them for the first time. Three months later, having been fast tracked through the process we were approved, matched, had met the birth parents and our two sons had moved in to their forever home.
It was a fast process, no doubt, but it was also an incredible experience. We knew what was at the end of the road and we had to commit 200% to the process. We became joined at the hip to our amazing social workers and over the course of the three months we learned so much about ourselves, as well as the challenges we would experience adopting our two boys. Even though we were going at what felt like break neck speed, it never mattered because of the end goal.
We had so much support - it was an incredible team effort and we still think of the social workers as part of our extended family. This later included the boys’ foster family with whom we remain very much in touch. Their love and commitment to the boys got them through the hardest part of their lives and we realised immediately that we were going to maintain that link. Sue is now their Godmother and we are in regular contact. They, along with the social workers were and still are, so invested in our boys, in us and in our new family.
We will never forget the first night we were all alone together for the first time and the reality sank in. Jake and I were sat downstairs, emotionally and physically exhausted, incredulous at the thought that the two little people asleep upstairs were now the centre of our world and entirely our responsibility. Every day since then has been a high. Words can never do justice to the feeling of love and pleasure you experience of being a parent. People have often spoken to us of their concerns about their feelings towards a biological child versus an adopted child. I can honestly say I don’t believe there is a difference.
Of course there have been tough days. We have been well and truly tried and tested and put through the wringer in every way possible to check that we will still love them whatever they do. We’ve had tantrums we could never have imagined and we have had to watch our two vulnerable, precious boys crumple under the pressure of having to come to terms with unimaginable loss. Their inner strength, resilience, and the trust they have learned to place in us and the other adults around them is humbling and the most rewarding thing I could ever imagine experiencing. We have grown as adults thanks to our boys.
A couple of years in we decided it was time to help the boys learn to talk about their past. They needed help organising their memories into the right sequence of events and to better understand the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ behind their life stories. With the help of the council we accessed some family therapy through the Adoption Support Fund. This has been life changing for the boys. Their history now makes sense, they can talk about it freely without shame and most importantly they know the feelings and emotions they have are okay, in fact normal. They are proud of who they are, proud to be adopted and we are so proud to be their fathers.
I can’t say what I think will happen next for our family, every day is an adventure. I think what we both realised early on was that these two boys weren’t joining our family, nor were we joining theirs. We were all coming together to create something completely new. That means we don’t bring any pre-conceived notions, expectations or visions for how things should be or turn out. We are far too busy creating new experiences and building our own new forever family every day.