Each month, Attitude meets one of the thousands of same-sex families around the UK in our regular 'Family Guys' column. Here, London couple Jack and Paul recount the journey to adopting their 10 year-old son Arron, who is deaf.
We’d been thinking about fostering to adopt for a long time, and Jack is a sign language interpreter, and used to work in Deaf schools. A head teacher approached him and said he was aware we were looking at adoption, that Arron’s current foster placement was coming to an end and they were looking for a long term placement. He was 7 at this point. We applied to social services for him and started fostering with a view to adopt.
His social worker made it very hard for us to adopt him, and we came up against some suspicions over why two men wanted to adopt a boy, which at times felt homophobic. On the other, we had a fantastic adoption worker who really put her neck on the line to help us, and when we finally got to court the judge said it was ludicrous the adoption had taken so long - she completed wiped the floor with the social worker. It should have taken 6 months max but it took two years, and he was 10 when this was finalised last year. The government are actually trying to make the whole adoption process a lot easier now.
When Arron came to us, he was so underdeveloped, in his language, and his skills, we had to teach him absolutely everything, but he has come on so fast. Now he uses sign language and spoken English, so he’s actually acquired two languages in that time. We go into central London, and he talks to everyone and anyone. We take him to Balan’s in Soho with another same sex couple who Arron views as uncles - one of which is also deaf - and he loves meeting people. We’re really proud of him.
He loves having two dads. We know a lot of people think that kids with same sex parents are going to be picked on. Sometimes we get funny looks but I think a lot of the time it’s just curiosity. We’ve just taken him to see the London Gay Men’s Chorus, which Jack was interpreting. Coincidentally, Arron’s younger brother was also adopted by a same-sex couple and we are currently searching for them.
He waited 10 years to have a family, and now he loves what we have. Looking at what he didn’t have and what we now provide, we’re quite proud of what we’ve done. On another note, Jack was basically disowned by his family when he came out, and now it means a lot that we get to build our own. Being dads is actually really brilliant. It’s made us feel younger! We’re now more conscious of keeping young and trying to be cool, and also just staying fit and healthy.
A lot of people have this romantic vision of fostering a new born baby and it being really sweet, but it’s really rare that that happens, and by the time a child reaches 3, it’s very rare that they will get adopted. People write off older children, or those with disabilities, thinking they’ll bring a lot of baggage, but please don’t rule them out. We couldn’t have asked for better. We’re so incredibly lucky in this country that we’re able to do this, considering that our friends in South Australia are currently campaigning for the adoption reform to allow same-sex adoption. We highly recommend it.
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