Brad, a part time business support and legal services project manager, adopted his son, James, almost three years ago. As a single LGBT adopter, Brad knows the importance of a strong support system.
What prompted you to consider adoption?
I always wanted a child but never really thought of or knew that adoption was available for single gay men. I started researching my options by joining New Family Social and Adoption UK, then gathering as much information as possible through forums and meeting other adopters.
How do you find being a gay parent?
So far I feel great. I was worried about how to explain to my son about the whole ‘gay dad’ thing, but I’m not worried anymore. James’ older brother has been adopted by a gay couple. We meet regularly, and James is used to seeing his older brother with two dads, so it’s normal.
As for being a gay parent, and in addition to that being male, I do get the odd look at school, and I’m sure that there are gossips going on, but I’m fine with that. The most important thing I want is to ensure that James does not feel ‘odd’ because he has a gay dad.
Do you have a particular memory that stands out for you?
The funniest moment for me was when, about 10 months after James was placed with me, his brother was placed with a gay couple. I had to tell James, and I thought I had to explain about having two dads instead of a mum and a dad. I used a wonderful book, “We Belong Together” by Todd Parr (highly recommended), to explain to James about the different family settings, which exist in the world. At the end of it, he asked “Why does he have two daddies?” And what he really meant was about the number (not gender): why does my elder brother get to daddies, and I only got one! That made me laugh.
What advice would you give to someone considering adopting?
I would say, get to know as many LGBT adopters as possible beforehand, get to know their experiences, and read books – there are specific books about LGBT adoption which are worth reading.
To all the single adopters out there: it’s super tough. Not just double tough because we are single, but I’d say it’s triple tough. Of course, no matter how tough it is, once a child is placed with you, you know you are going to make an incredible difference to this child’s life.
Ensure your adoption support plan has been written well and you do get support from your child’s placement team. I’m saying this because I have experienced good support first hand from the Trust, but I have also witnessed placement breakdowns with two close friends because they did not receive the right support.
What is the right support? It’s hard to say because it’s family specific. I believe that therapeutic support for 12 to 36 months should be a must. Therapeutic support should not only be for the child and you as a family (play therapy, Theraplay, Filial Therapy, etc), but you, the adopter, need psychological support from a professional. Do not hesitate to ask for this, and please don’t feel like you don’t need it – living with a child who has suffered abuse/neglect, does bring up a lot of skeletons hidden in the deepest recesses of our subconscious. So, yes, get the right help and don’t feel odd about it.
A very large and extensive support network is also a must-have. The hard part – at least for me – is to be able to ask for help. You’ve got to be able to do that or else, even a large support network won’t help. So, don’t hesitate: ask for help and it will come.