As a same sex family we’re often asked about our experience of the adoption process and now as a family. We too had questions prior to our journey beginning several years ago. We reached out to same sex adoptive families as we wanted to hear first hand about what life was like. We were curious.
Firstly, let’s get one thing straight - parents are parents. Being gay should never come into question.
Our journey began in 2018 and prior to starting with the agency we eventually chose, we were interviewed by another agency who came with very good recommendations. Sadly, the Social Worker interviewing us were extremely cold towards us both and just lacked any kind of understanding when talking about our lifestyle and background. This was the reason why we didn’t go with that agency. Recommendations or not - if we didn’t feel comfortable about sharing details of our life, it wasn't the right choice.
We’re pleased to say that all throughout the assessment to approval panel, we faced no challenges whatsoever as a same sex couple. We always felt that all the information we were talking about and sharing was respected, treated confidentially and discussed sensitively.
Following our approval to adopt and as we started to review profiles of children, we encountered a situation which came following our registration of interest with a particular child's profile. Several days later we received notification via Link Maker that we were not being considered as we were a same sex couple. Could they really do that? We remembered during our Stage 2 training that this may happen and that a decision regarding links being made could be denied due to preference for the child to be adopted by heterosexual adopters. We’re sure there was a reason for this, but it did open our eyes quickly that this was indeed the reality of the process.
Once we had seen Little Man’s profile and then being linked with him, we learned that a same sex couple were preferred as it was found that he had good relationships with males and could sometimes be hesitant with females. Therefore being a same sex couple perhaps gave us some additional weight in the sifting process when being considered. All throughout the matching process and placement last year we did not encounter any difficulties as gay adopters. Everybody was extremely welcoming and friendly towards us.
I recall thinking before adoption was a consideration if we would be treated differently because we are gay. Thankfully I can say we haven’t, albeit there have been a few instances where assumptions were made, as you will read shortly!
Most of the last 6 months have been spent at home, mainly due to lockdown so we may have not been “exposed” to the wider world as we would have been pre-pandemic. That being said, we have been out as a family and enjoyed family time in many places. I am naturally observant so I am used to “people watching”. We have never had any discouraging looks nor people pass comment about our family. If they have, they have kept it to themselves! We occasionally get others smiling at us, which I see as a “Oh, don’t they look sweet”.
If anyone has spoken to or interacted with us as a family, we’re open and honest straight away and we’ve always had positive reactions and engagement. There should never be any reason for someone to question or to feel they have the right to pass comment or judgement. There have been a few moments which we have encountered, whether that be together or individually with Little Man. It’s never made us uncomfortable - it was always the other person being left uncomfortable!
I was recently at the Doctors with Little Man and pressed the intercom to speak with the Receptionist. She asked me several questions before asking “Is it just you and Little Man or is Mummy with you too?”. I quite happily responded with - “No, just me, my husband who is Papa is still at home, thanks”. She obviously wanted the ground to swallow her up because there was a very long pause before she said “Oh…I am so sorry" and then nervously giggled. She obviously felt very uncomfortable that she had made an assumption and perhaps in future she won’t make a sweeping generalisation.
Did it bother me? No. I am very confident in my approach as a gay Dad and it wasn’t me left feeling uncomfortable. All we try to do is to talk openly about being a same sex family to normalise it for everybody.
Whilst seeing the nurse (on the same day to the above…wasn’t that a good day!) it was clear that she didn’t know how to address me, nor my husband. I’m not sure whether she felt uncomfortable, but that’s her problem, not mine. I ended up speaking for her at some points, just trying to perhaps help her out and how to correctly refer to our family. It may have been her first time, I don’t know. Perhaps next time if she comes across a similar situation, she may be more confident in her approach. We didn’t want to make her uncomfortable but by not creating an issue out of it, we just showed how very normal it is for us.
We have also been in a few shops recently where others have asked “Where’s Mummy?” Again, we’re not sure why people feel the need to ask about where the other parent is, when one is standing in front of them with Little Man! We’re not sure why they must know where Mummy is. A simple “my husband is at home, thank you” was enough to see them on their way! I’d like people who ask that question to think before they speak - you really never know the situation for each family.
We recently asked our followers of Daddy, Dad & Me for their experiences and viewpoints, as it all varies and is important you hear others speaking about their experiemce. Some you may find sweet, others - very shocking!
“On school forms it said mother’s details and fathers details - so we just scribbled it out and wrote parent 1 and parent 2. When we met our health visitor she asked about my wife. I said he’s actually got 2 dads and she was mortified.”
“I always say “no but my husband is his other daddy”. It always gets me an immediate apology and the typical ““Oh my of course yes amazing” type of thing! 😝”
“I’ve not had any mummy comments (though we’ve only been parents for 13 months and mostly during a pandemic during which we see hardly anybody) but occasionally things like “name” confusion. For example, in the supermarket with one of our little boys the man at the checkout was trying to be friendly and said to our boy “are you helping dad today” and our boy was totally confused and said “no, dad’s at home. I’m helping papa”. Much to my amusement and the confusion of the man who asked the question.”
“At school the other day - one of the kids said to my other half “I saw [eldest’s] other daddy yesterday”. Just matter of factly and didn’t bat an eyelid”
“I always just say our little man is lucky to have two Daddies and that his other Dad is working or at home. Most people apologise and say they were wrong to assume. We haven’t had any negativity as yet 🙌🏻”
“I find it’s usually when I have been to a GP appt/immunisations, that the Dr/Nurse usually says, is Mummy working. At first I would feel awkward about being honest, but the more I said the truth the more I realised how important it is. As a nurse myself, I make sure I influence the health care professionals I work with to think about different families too.”
“I think it’s so built into people though that there is a mum and a dad and that’s that. We have a good friend where dad isn’t on the scene and people always say to the little boy “where is daddy” and stuff to that affect. Dad is in prison and the little one hasn’t ever met him. He finds it really hard. But people just assume. One day - it’ll all change. But we’re a little way off, I fear.”
“We are a same sex adopters and in December 2020 we took our two boys out for food. As we were in tier 2 and were told by the manager of the restaurant “it’s only one household per table. We said that we were one household and he replied “but your two guys and have kids with you"
“We had a situation where we had to take the boys to the dentist and the receptionist said to them “this is usually a mummy’s job”.
One adopter importantly shared a hugely positive experience they encountered, “We talk to the boys about it and they are seemingly ok with it and they know it’s ok to ask questions. They have quite difficult attachments to females and mother type roles but our older one said to the dentist receptionist “we don’t need a mummy as we have our two daddies”.
Times are changing and maybe in a few years time we won’t need to write a blog like this. We know there is a lifetime ahead of us being Little Man’s parents and it is obvious he has two male parents. It doesn’t change anything other than we are two males and we can parent just the same as any other family. Love is Love regardless of gender or sexuality.
We also speak about life as gay adopters in our vlog - do take a watch to hear more.
We have to keep talking. It really does make a difference.