Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Who says single men can't adopt?

I have an article in the Times about single men who choose to adopt. It's really very interesting indeed (trust me!)
Here is the link...
Or here is the text.....

Who says lone men can’t adopt?
The number of single male adopters in Britain is small but growing. Sarah Ebner talks to three happy fathers

Last year 3,700 children were adopted from care. Many more, desperate for a family, were disappointed – but adoption agencies have begun to look farther afield. Unmarried heterosexual and gay couples can now adopt jointly, while another small but growing part of the adoptive parent network is single people. And while it’s true that most single adopters are female, there are some men, too.

Single men are probably the most maligned group of adoptive parents, and are subjected to intense questioning about why they want to become fathers.

Although it is not illegal for a single man to adopt a female child, it happens rarely. Single male adopters tend to adopt boys who are slightly older than the average. As in any adoption, the child’s needs must be paramount.

David Holmes, chief executive of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), says: “It is a myth that single men can’t adopt. The number of single male adopters is small but growing. What children need most is security and stability, and in most cases this is more important than the gender of the carer.

“We know that single people can do just as well as couples, and we encourage adoption agencies to think about what single men and women have to offer. The national minimum standards for adoption state that people who are interested in becoming adoptive parents will be welcomed without prejudice.”

Here, three single men recount how they became adoptive fathers.

Richard Stuart, 42, lives in Sandhurst, Berkshire, with his two adopted sons, Paul, 18, and Aron, 12. Richard, who also fosters two teenage boys, looks after the children full-time.

“I thought I’d have all the normal things in life – kids, a wife and a dog – but it doesn’t always work out like that,” he says. “When I was 23, a close friend died. I took her loss badly. I got to 27 and hadn’t had any serious relationships since her death. But I’m an impatient person and wasn’t happy. I had always wanted to be a dad, and began to think that I would never have kids.

“I was surprised when I found out that single men could adopt. However, my local authority said that although they were legally obliged to carry out all the checks on me, they had never taken on a single male adopter before.

“It took me three years with different agencies to be approved. Eventually I went to an independent adoption service and they took me on. I had to be thoroughly checked, but that didn’t bother me. If you can’t put up with the checks and intrusiveness then you shouldn’t try to adopt in the first place. I’d have given everything I had to be a dad, so I was prepared to be harassed.

“Once I was approved, I went to a matching panel. Paul, who was nearly 10, had been in a care home and I was his last chance. He really wanted a family, and there was something about him that made me want him. We clicked.

“Everything changed after Paul came. I had no social life and couldn’t go anywhere without him following me. But it was what I wanted. I chose to do it. However, it was an issue that I was a single man. I ran a huge Cub pack, and once Paul came the numbers nosedived. People thought that I must be odd, or that Paul was potentially dangerous.

“I lost some friends when Paul arrived but made new ones, too. I didn’t really care what people thought of me but I did care what they thought of Paul.

“Two years later I got Aron, who was then 6, and I now sit on an adoption panel. I don’t have relationships because I don’t have time, but I don’t think the boys miss having a mum. I’d have liked to adopt a girl but it was difficult enough getting a boy as a single man.

“I’m exceptionally proud of the boys, even though they completely wind me up. They really do complete my life, and I have no regrets.”

Thierry Lambert, 34, lives in Wiltshire with his adopted son, Liam, 8. He works for Wiltshire police. “I first met Liam in April last year. I walked into the room at his foster home and he looked up and said, ‘Hello Dad, I’m just having a sandwich, I’ll be there in a minute’. It felt incredible. When I left, I shed more tears than I’d ever done in my life. I was so happy.

“I had always wanted children and was in a seven-year relationship where we were planning to have them, but we broke up in 2003. I was just turning 30 and wasn’t keen to start over again. What if I met someone new, then waited more years to have a child, only for it not to happen again?

“I came across adoption on the internet and it seemed like a great idea. For me, the child was more important than the partner, and adoption cut out that relationship completely. I contacted Wiltshire social services and they didn’t think it was a problem. I went on a course which was very female-orientated (everything was about mothers), but I met nice people and no one was especially negative. However, some people did ask if I was gay.

“I also had an in-depth assessment. Every angle was covered – my social group, my work, what support I had, even how a child would cope with me being diabetic.

“It took nearly a year to get approval. I did have relationships during that time but they didn’t last. The adoption was my priority.

“Liam’s father had died and he hadn’t had a particularly good experience with his mother. Because of this he found it difficult to trust women. He needed a father.

“I was sent the forms of 20 possible children, and when I saw Liam I said, ‘That’s the one. That’s my son’.

“Liam moved in last May and I’ve had to adjust more than him – being more tired, more responsible, making sure that he gets fed and bathed and does his homework.

“But it’s completely worth it. Liam makes me laugh every day and I feel I’ve known him since he was born. I adopted him on October 10, 2006 and he says that I’m his real dad. I feel this was meant to be.”

John Williams*, 47, lives on Anglesey in Wales with his two adopted sons, *Keith, 21, and *Jamie, 20. He also fosters two boys aged 11 and 12, and looks after the children full-time.

“When I was told that I would be adopting two brothers aged 9 and 10, I was concerned. They sounded so grown-up and I thought that they would have missed out on so much. But when I met the boys I couldn’t believe how small they were. I knew they were the ones for me.

“I’ve always loved children but although I was married briefly, we had no kids. After we broke up in 1992 I began thinking about adoption. I wanted a family but wasn’t keen on another relationship and didn’t want to risk getting hurt again.

“I contacted Barnardo’s, who gave me a very thorough assessment. It wasn’t easy but I don’t think that it should be easy. I told my social worker right from the start that I would be open and honest. I had nothing to hide, and wanted to be a father more than anything. However, it is hard when you read so much about male abusers. You want to say, ‘That’s not every man’.

“At that time I worked for the Ministry of Defence, and because I worked I was told that I would have to adopt school-age children. I was expecting a five-year-old!

“The boys had been in foster care for more than three years. They felt very much that they were treated differently from the foster carer’s children and wanted a family of their own. Keith had written a letter saying that he wanted to live in the country with animals, and I was delighted to read that. It was my situation exactly, and he has loved being outdoors from Day 1. Meanwhile, Jamie, who barely spoke when he was with the foster carer, hasn’t stopped talking since he came here! He knew immediately that he belonged.

“I told Jamie and Keith that there were lots of other children who would like to be adopted, but it was important to them that their adoption was special. They suggested fostering.

“I wouldn’t change what I have for the world. I think how empty my life was before and take great pleasure in my sons’ achievements. Yes, I would have liked to have met someone and had children, but that didn’t happen. I haven’t had relationships since getting the boys, but my life is full and we are happy. I definitely feel that the boys are mine.”

* Names have been changed.

1 comment:

Martín Ayala said...

Aww, I felt like weeping tears after reading this, I'm a 18 years old guy and I love spending time with children since I can remember. But I was always sad about the things I read that how men were unfairly discriminated about single parenting, now I know that even if I don't make it to get a relationship one day, at least I could still reach my most biggest dream to become a father and live happily with my son.