As part of National Adoption Week, same sex couple Paul and Steven have revealed the joy in their lives from adopting two siblings in Peterborough.
The couple, who did not want their surnames to be published, really wanted to have their own family and thought adoption was probably the best route, but as a same sex couple they thought they would probably be discounted as potential adopters.
However, a chance encounter changed all that.
Paul said: “We had preconceived ideas about our chances of being considered to be adoptive parents, but then while on holiday a few years ago we met a same sex couple with an adopted daughter, and suddenly our eyes were opened to the possibility.”
Soon after that happy revelation they applied to Peterborough City Council adoption services, which was taken over by fostering and adoption charity TACT to become the TACT Peterborough Permanency Service.
Steven said: ”The application process was quite intense, with every aspect of our lives being checked, but we understood why that was necessary. All the social workers were exceptionally supportive and we were not treated any differently than other adoption applicants. We never felt judged, just supported.”
Not long after they had been approved to adopt, Paul and Steven got news of a possible match - an unborn baby boy who would be briefly fostered after birth to give the couple the chance to get acquainted with him before they hopefully took him home.
Steven said: ”We found out on Christmas Eve, and it was the best Christmas present ever. It was so exciting and a little bit scary at the same time.”
Following his birth Mark* was placed with foster carer Vicky.
Steven said: ”Vicky was absolutely amazing, she opened up her home and family to us for two weeks while we had introduction visits with Mark, fitting us in with his routine. Eventually, we were able to spend whole days with him and then came the day we could take him home.”
Paul said: “The day we brought him home was rather surreal. We placed him in his carry cot in the middle of the lounge and sat looking at him thinking ‘oh my goodness, we have a baby!’”
Fortunately, Paul and Steven’s relatives rallied around the first-time dads and helped them with the newest member of the family.
Paul said: “Even though we are both from close knit families we were crossing our fingers that our parents would be able to bond with him. We shouldn’t have worried, everyone has been so incredibly positive.”
Mark has two older birth siblings, and Paul and Steven have always ensured that he is able to keep in touch with them.
Mark had just turned two years old when his birth mother became pregnant again. It was decided that the baby would be put up for adoption, and Paul and Steven were asked if they would consider adopting her.
Steven said: ”By that time our lives had become more settled - as a family we had got into a nice routine. Plus we were in our early 40s, so we thought ‘can we handle having another new born baby?’ But it felt like the right thing to do. We are both from large families and knew from experience that it is nice to have a sibling to grow up with.”
They knew their next new family member would be a girl, so they talked to Mark a lot about how great it would be to have a sister. And in due course Ava* joined the family.
That was four months ago and the family is a happy and thriving unit, if somewhat busy.
Steven said: ”Sometimes we wonder how we manage to get through the day because things can be so busy, but we just do. It helps to be organised, and fortunately we have flexible professions – Paul works in the pharmaceutical industry and I am currently on long-term adoption leave from my nursing job.”
Three-year-old Mark is proving to be a great big brother.
Paul said: “Mark is a typically noisy, funny and boisterous toddler, and he is so sweet with Ava. It’s like she has always been here and Mark has a real knack for calming Ava down when she gets upset, bringing her toys and making her laugh.”
So now Paul and Steve have what they thought they might never have – their own family. They certainly have their hands full with two small children but they wouldn’t have it any other way. And for Mark and Ava they have a bright future, growing up together in a stable, loving family.
*Names have been changed for this article.
For more information on TACT, visit: www.tactcare.org.uk/adopt-with-us.