Ben and his partner Ryan live with their two adoptive sons, two dogs, two chipmunks, a fish, chickens and a rabbit. They explain how adoption gave them the chance to complete their family.
Why did you choose to become adopters?
As a gay couple, we didn’t have all the options open to us that a heterosexual couple would. We did consider fostering but we knew we didn’t want children coming in and out of our lives – we wanted a child who could stay permanently.
How did your second adoption differ from your first?
We adopted our first son four and a half years ago, when he was six years old. He has learning difficulties, and we were warned of all the potential pitfalls which could come with caring for his additional needs. It was quite scary, and when we first met him we didn’t know exactly what to expect. We were worried he wouldn’t like us, but within 30 seconds he had us playing Mario Kart on the wii and we haven’t looked back.
Our second son has been with us for 11 months and he’s settled in to the family well. It wasn’t plain sailing at the start though. In the beginning he was really excited to be adopted, then four days after our introductions he began making himself sick and he was very nervous. It took a while, but towards the end of the process he was excited and ready to go, which was a relief.
What research did you do prior to becoming adopters?
We did loads of research before we adopted our first son. Read books, went to LGBT fostering and adoption support groups, attended information sessions, met other adopters and completed all the training. Before we became dads for the second time we didn’t need to do as much because we were so well prepared.
How is life now, with your children?
Our work life hasn’t changed that much, I work part time and Ryan’s job is flexible so he can work from home sometimes and not have to lose annual leave.
Having children has opened doors for us. We’ve met a lot of new people – many of them are adopters too – and this year we’ll be spending a lot of time on rollercoasters with the two boys as we’ve just bought Merlin theme park passes.
What advice would you give to someone considering adopting?
Look after yourself too. There will be lots of ups and downs so be honest with yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help. You need to make sure you have the right support for your child and for you.
Ask a lot of questions to find out what support is available. With our first son, the local authority at home didn’t explain fully what financial support could be on offer and after the adoption order was finalised they were very hands off with us. Slough Children’s Services Trust have been amazing though. They have been supportive and honest about what is available. We weren’t 100% sure of what financial help we could get but staff at the Trust helped every step of the way to make life easier for us.