My name is Jonny and my husband’s name is Anthony. We met each other in 2011 and got married in May 2016 and adopted our 2 son’s in January 2019 at ages 2 and 4- they are now 3 and 5.
We both knew we wanted children and openly talked about it quite early in the relationship. Probably on the second or third date, I instigated the conversation and it was pretty high on the “what I was looking for” in a relationship. Ant ticked all the boxes and when he said he was looking for someone to marry and have a family with it was the icing on the cake. I come from a very close family and have 2 amazing sisters, who both have beautiful children. Seeing what they have has always made me crave for a family of my own.
We didn’t really do any research into which route we would take when it came to agencies. In 2016 I had seen an advertisement on Facebook about adoption and called our local authority to ask for some information. After receiving an information pack we decided that because we didn’t own our own house (not that you need to but because we were hoping to buy in the next year or so) we would postpone taking anything further action until we had put our routes down. Giving our new family a stable base we could call home. After achieving this we contacted the local authority again and went to an information event at the end of 2017.
We hadn’t seen or read any books or blogs before us adopting, but have read lots since. Our main information came from friends who were adopting, that had been adopted as a child and documentaries we had seen on tv. None of these focused on same-sex adoption and therefore our experience of the whole thing may be different from what we heard.
Our biggest worries were around would we be able to cope? We always knew we wanted a big family but didn’t want to go through the whole process again. So we decided to have 2 children in one hit which meant it was going to be twice as hard. Not having our family around us as they live in the South West and we are South East, meant we didn’t have much hands-on support on a day to day basis.
But our families are amazing at giving advice and support via phone calls and text and help out more in other ways. We are lucky we have a strong network of friends that have really pulled together when we need them which has been amazing. Particularly for taking the boys out for a few hours whilst we get chores and jobs done- and even babysitting at night so we can have some time together as a couple which is really important.
The Start of the Process
We handed in our application to start the adoption process on the 7th January 2018 and we brought our children home in the 7th January 2019! It was a huge coincidence that it took a year to the day!
We saw several children’s profiles the first day of starting stage 2 but straight away we were drawn to our now sons. We requested to read further information and watch their DVD on the 3rd day of training and I felt there was an instant connection.
I’ve always been the one that gets excited and jumps the gun pretty quick and Ant has always been level headed and sensible one. As we were so early on in the process we didn’t go any further and instead focused on getting the paperwork and social worker meetings done. A few months down the line we were given an invite from our social worker to a matching event, where all the local authorities from the south-east would be.
She said this would be a good experience to see a range of children up for adoption, as we were quite open to what our family would look like. Being there was quite an eye-opener and it felt strange and uncomfortable in a lot of ways- however, we understood that it was important to get these children’s profiles seen by as many people as possible so that they could find their forever home.
We walked up to the first table and who should be there- our sons. After a few months of non-stop thinking about them and thinking that they had probably been adopted by know, they were still there just waiting for us. They were the only profiles we ever really saw. The others we browsed passed never popped out to us like our boys. We decided there and then to just go for it- watching an updated DVD of them and then speaking to their family finder.
A few weeks later she came around and gave us more information about the boy’s backgrounds to check if we were still happy to proceed- which we obviously were. She then told us there was a Craft Event coming up that the boys would be at and that we would get the opportunity to meet them to see how we felt. This was a rare opportunity and most adoptive parents don’t get to meet their children until introductions so we felt very lucky.
This was exciting and also massively nerve-racking. I counted down the days until we met them – getting my hopes up and already imagining them in our lives. Ant (with his level head) would try and make me see sense but I just couldn’t help myself. We had a conversation about what was to happen and we both agreed that if one of us didn’t feel a connection with the boys, then it would be a no as we were in it together. I had already felt a connection was there and already had my eggs in their basket.
The Craft Event
On the day of the craft event, we were in a room with 12 other prospective adopters and were told that only 6 children were there. We weren’t the only people interested in our boys, so it was hard to let anyone else have the chance to spend time with them too. I had to nip to the toilet quickly for a nervous wee before the children had arrived and on my way back I came face to face with our youngest son and my heart exploded. I remember him being so small and fragile I knew what my heart wanted. Shortly after Ant and I joined the boys in the play area and we each took tries and turned to play with each of our now sons. The oldest was super energetic and his smile was so infectious. He told me that his favourite colour was pink and when he climbed up one of the climbing frames I said that he was “the king of the castle” to which he replied, “no I’m the queen”! It just confirmed to me that he was MY SON!
After a big water fight and all 4 of us being soaked to our pants, the children left and I and Ant sat on a bench together in silence. I asked the dreaded questions: well- what do you think? To which Ant replied, “I love them”! I could have screamed the whole place down but contained my excitement.
Not Yet Approved
From there was a bit of a bumpy road. We hadn’t been approved yet and even though we were told numerous times approval and matching can be done on the same day on our training – it never happened. There was another couple interested in the boys, a male and female couple that we knew from one of the courses. They were lovely and already approved so we thought for sure that they would be matched with the boys. However, it turned out that they had already been given the boys profile a few times and rejected them based on what they read about their backgrounds. It was only when they met them and saw how cute, normal and adorable they were that they were interested. Luckily for us, the family finder knew this and turned them down on that basis. Knowing we had been interested for a long time- knowing all the possible issues we may have.
A few months down the line we were approved in August for a sibling group 0- 5 (the boys fitted perfect in this category) and excited about getting a date for matching panel. We were then told that the boys may be split up as they didn’t know if their bond was strong enough to be kept together (they had spent some time in different foster homes) and they both had different attachment styles- the big question was would they be better on their own? There was no way we could choose one of them- it was either both or neither which would have been devastating for us. So after that, we needed to wait for another sibling assessment, in which the social workers agreed that they would be kept together but Ant and I would need additional support in the form of an Attachment Focus Councillor.
We went to matching panel in November and all was agreed. I had never felt so nervous in my life, this said it was a very positive experience and nothing to be worried about. As it was so late in the year we couldn’t start the proper introductions until after Christmas. However, we were lucky enough to have play dates every weekend throughout December and even got to give them some gifts the day before Christmas Eve- with a FaceTime on Christmas Day.
The most difficult parts for both of us was opening up about our past. Whist we both had a variety of different issues as teens, being bullied, coming out as gay, moving homes and family issues. We both felt we had dealt with these and moved on. But the processes are very intrusive- picking the scabs off all the old wounds and making them bleed all over again. We were always told to be honest. Hiding the truth meant we could have been matched with the wrong children and then later down the line to adoption would fail. We put all our cards on the table and wore our hearts on our sleeve and it paid off.
Another thing we found difficult was changing social workers after we were approved. With government cuts, it meant our social worker had left adoption and moved into post-adoption. We had spent months getting to know her and we felt she knew us really well too. Then we had to start all over again which felt like we were at the back of the race again.
We were offered the Attachment Focus Counselling and even though we felt we didn’t need it- we accepted it as it was better to grab the offer when it was there than maybe ask for it later down the line. We had 12 sessions all together around 1-2 hours each. The first one we had as a couple, then broke the others up for our individual needs. I had 6 sessions-as we decided because I was the primary carer I need them more. I could discuss our day to day issues and what I was finding difficult. Ant had 4 sessions and then we ended our time with another couple session. I would recommend this to anyone! It was like therapy! Some days I cried, some days I felt drained- but having someone to vent to who was impartial and knowledgeable really helped us and our relationship with our sons. She gave us tools and advice to carry forward and even now I find myself remembering the things she would tell me- “don’t sweat the small stuff, attend to the emotional need, not the behavioural need”.
“I love you until the sun comes back”
The best memory has to be when our children told us they love us. And not because they felt they had too, but that time when they look at you and you just know they really mean it. Especially at night time when the boys have come up with this adorable thing where they say “I love you until the sun comes back”!
But there are so many more memories that are being created every day. Just seeing how they are improving in school to going on our first family holiday abroad.