IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO START YOUR ADOP­TION STORY

THE NUM­BER OF SAME-SEX COU­PLES ADOPT­ING CHIL­DREN IN ENG­LAND HAS TRIPLED SINCE THE LAW CHANGED IN 2005. THE ADOP­TION AND CHIL­DREN ACT GRANTED LGBT PEO­PLE EQUAL PAR­ENT­ING RIGHTS. BUT WITH MORE THAN 2,000 CHIL­DREN STILL WAIT­ING TO BE ADOPTED, THE NEED FOR AD

Pride Life Magazine - - SPONSORED FEATURE -

First4A­dop­tion – the na­tional adop­tion in­for­ma­tion ser­vice – wel­comes en­quiries from any­one within the LGBT com­mu­nity who could po­ten­tially of­fer these chil­dren a safe and lov­ing home. Gemma Gor­don-John­son, Head of Ser­vice at First4A­dop­tion, says: “We’re here to of­fer in­for­ma­tion and ad­vice to any­one in­ter­ested in adop­tion. Many LGBT cou­ples – and in­di­vid­u­als – don’t re­alise that they’re even el­i­gi­ble to adopt.” This is just one of the many myths sur­round­ing adop­tion. Sin­gle peo­ple, those who al­ready have chil­dren, peo­ple in rented ac­com­mo­da­tion and those over 40 may also be un­aware that they too can adopt.

RUPERT’S STORY

The writer, Rupert Smith, and his hus­band, Mar­cus, adopted a three-year-old boy in 2012.

“I be­came a dad at 53 years old. If you’d told me that twenty years, ten years, even five years ago, I wouldn’t have be­lieved you. But the great strides to­wards equal­ity have opened a lot of peo­ple’s eyes to the po­ten­tial of gay peo­ple as

“Chil­dren don’t care about age, eth­nic­ity, gen­der or sex­u­al­ity, as long as they know they can trust you”

par­ents, mine in­cluded. Fam­ily, friends and neigh­bours all ac­cepted us with­out ques­tion. We knew that with their sup­port, we could do it. Eigh­teen months later we be­came fathers to a three-year-old boy. My hus­band took six months’ adop­tion leave, while I took a ca­reer break. I think, per­haps, as older par­ents, we were bet­ter equipped to deal with some of the chal­lenges that looked-af­ter chil­dren bring with them. We’d both been around the block, lived through hard times, ex­pe­ri­enced loss and sep­a­ra­tion and many of the ques­tions of iden­tity that are key is­sues in adop­tion. I won­der whether the younger me would have been able to sum­mon the pa­tience and em­pa­thy I now need ev­ery hour of ev­ery day. Of course, there are chal­lenges to be­ing an older par­ent. I won’t have as much time with him as I’d like, and for that rea­son only I wish I’d done this a lot ear­lier. But then, he – that in­di­vid­ual person whom I love – would not have been my son. I feel, some­times, that we were wait­ing for each other.

“Once or twice we’ve had the in­evitable re­marks in school or play­ground – vari­a­tions on ‘Is he your grand­son?’ and ‘Where’s his mother?’ For all of these, I have stan­dard an­swers (which are po­lite ways of say­ing ‘mind your own busi­ness’) – and, more im­por­tantly, I make sure my son can re­spond with con­fi­dence and pride. He knows his dad is old, and he often teases me about be­ing bald. I’m much, much older than his birth par­ents, even his birth grand­par­ents, but it doesn’t mat­ter to him any more than hav­ing two fathers mat­ters. Chil­dren don’t care about age, eth­nic­ity, gen­der or sex­u­al­ity, as long as they know they can trust you.

“Hav­ing a child has made me feel young again in a way I never ex­pected. It gave my mother, in the last years of her life, great hap­pi­ness. It has con­nected me to so­ci­ety in a wholly dif­fer­ent and chal­leng­ing way. I have em­barked on the great­est ad­ven­ture of my life at a time when many of my peers are think­ing about re­tire­ment and grand­chil­dren. Yes, I’ve come late to the party, but I’m glad I made it.”

RUPERT SMITH

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