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Martin and Stephen were matched with Toby, aged 13 months. They had gained a lot of experience being around and caring for their friends’ children in the previous 13 years, and so felt ready to look after a child of their own. But, right from the first day, they realised that being a parent was not always going to go as planned.
“I remember when Toby came to us, and how shattering those first days were. When he had his nap, I recall feeling so exhausted, but during those times I would tidy up, making lots of meals and freeze them. It was just crazy. After a while I said no more this is just ridiculous, I need some time out. So now when he falls asleep I just give myself one task to do and after that I allow myself to relax and read the newspaper or a book.”
“As a same sex couple, we didn’t think we would have set roles. We thought we would be joint parents and that neither of us would be the primary care giver. But Martin has taken responsibility for lots of the parenting because he is the one at home. I think we were in denial at first that it would be like this.”
“We find the hardest thing about being a parent is battling with tiredness all the time. And because we are tired we have to accept that we are not always going to achieve all we wanted to do. The reality now is that you just can’t fit everything in. Initially you think you can find a way around it, but actually something else will always take its place.”
“Trying to keep our parents at bay a little bit while we are trying to nurture and develop a bond with our son is tricky. It’s still early days. So we’ve explained to them that you can’t do certain things while we are focused on trying to build this attachment, and that it will take months and months. Although they go along with it, you can see it in their eyes that they think we are just being some kind of ‘airy fairy, new age style parents’. It’s difficult, trying to help them understand why and how different our child is.
As adopters you need loads of patience and a greater sense of realism. Plus the ability to stand back and reflect on the situation, and decide what’s best for everyone?”
“The weeks are busier, and the evenings are quieter. We have busy jam-packed days when we are visiting friends and family, attending play groups, libraries etc. We’ve got to know our neighbours, which we weren’t expecting but it’s been really nice. We’ve become friends with the family over the road and we now have regular play dates. We have taken Toby down to the local Sure Start Centre, and everyone has been so amazing and welcoming.”
“We thought that our friends would stay the same and that life would not change that much. But we’ve met loads of new people through different groups and play centres, and we’ve started taking part in local council adoption groups. We have now put ourselves out there a bit more, meeting other adoptive couples who are going through the process or experiences. We feel more rooted here now. I bump into people that we know all the time and it feels great.”