One huge step closer to becoming parents

March 08, 2020

After the storm

Tuesday afternoon in late Feb.  Sideways rain hitting the windows of Western Bay HQ during what has to be the 3rd or 4th named storm of the month.  Dennis, Ciara, Jorge…a whole family of them in Feb pretty much.

I was chasing up couples who would be willing to work with us and share their story for LGBTQ+ Adoption & Fostering Week. I remembered the Morgan-Thomas’s from meeting them during their Preparation to Adopt Training.

Their enthusiasm and positivity stuck with me.

Cue instant response to my email from James stating he was aware of LGBTQ+ adoption week and asking what can they do to help.

Wanting to meet up quickly I pushed for a time on the Monday.

No problem we are in panel Monday – can meet after that, replied James in the email.

Gulp.

Monday afternoon – first week of March. Brief storm interlude. Phone call from Matthew.

“We’ve been approved!! Be with you in about half an hour!”

(Some celebratory artwork that Matthew designed)

Matthew and James are both of course buzzing when I met them. Hearty handshakes and congratulations ensue.

Understanding that the couple hail from outside the Western Bay region I ask why them they choose us as their agency.

“Well we were in Cardiff Pride,” replies Matthew.

“We didn’t have the best experience with a different agency based elsewhere in Wales, we were then thinking of contacting our local agency in our region – then we came across a lovely social worker working on a stand for Western Bay in the Pride” he continues.

“Not what we were expecting to be honest,” adds James. “She was just so friendly and her enthusiasm for the service and their children just kind of re energised us really.”

Matthew who in addition to his caring job does a bit of extra work on the side also received a recommendation from a cast member on the SAC programme Pobol y Cwm.  Diolch yn fawr!

Facing your demons

“The communication was great from the start which was really helpful,” says Matthew. “It’s so important, because this hasn’t been an easy process.  We have had to face up to a lot.”

“The night before panel I couldn’t sleep, my mind was just racing thinking of what ifs and what nots,” continues Matthew.

“Throughout the process leading up to panel there has been a lot of self-examination,” he says.

“Why are we doing this? What type of parents are we? What are we going to offer the child?”

Just from my limited experience with the guys and feeling the warmth, enthusiasm and authenticity they emit I could have offered a few answers.

“But,” interjects James with a calm reassuring tone.

“We got through it, together”

“We are approved!”

“It’s really brought us closer to our family as well,” says Matthew. “They are the ones who are going to support you when the child is placed. They’ve been there throughout the assessment process.”

On top of the warmth I feel from the guys I also pick up on the resilience and strength of character of both men.

Which will be needed.

They now start the next part of their journey. The process to match up with their future child based on the recommendations of the panel.

Again communication will be key and of course support. Support from family, Western Bay and their peers who on similar journeys.

Our minds turn to focus on LGBTQ+ issues.

“There’s light at the tunnel with regards to acceptance,” says Matthew. “The UK is one of the leading lights really.”

“Globally though,” adds James “there is still a lot to be done. Some countries are way behind us here.”

 

Workplace firsts

The couple were the first people in both of their workplaces (who are some of Wales’s biggest employers) to take shared adoption leave.

“We have had to research the policies and our rights to ensure we could get what we are entitled to. Our employers were unaware, we had to educate them,” adds Matthew.

“More can be done there to raise awareness of what people are entitled to,” concludes James.

Going back to panel Matthew tells me that one thing that the panel members picked up on was how much they absorbed and learnt from the  Introduction to Adoption 4 day course.

“The things we have learnt about attachment, child development and PACE parenting models have been fantastic,” says Matthew.

“We’ve still got a lot to learn and we are constantly developing,” says James sagely.

Matthew and James, both in their thirties, have seen a lot and come through a lot in their lives already.  They’ve had to face up to a lot of this during their adoption journey.

This doesn’t put them at a disadvantage – It makes them the parents only they can be.

“I emailed Radio 2 on the way to panel,” says Matthew, “to tell them we were on way to hopefully be approved as adopters.”

“Zoe Ball read the whole email out live on air and gave us loads of words encouragement, I couldn’t believe it!.”

“This one next to me was in tears in the car when Zoe read it out the big baby!”

“No I wasn’t, they were tears of laughter!” protests James.

 

Finally I ask the guys if they any advice for any potential LGBTQ+ adopters.  “Just go for it,” they both reply unequivocally. “The experiences you’ve had, the character you’ve been building, it all puts you in great stead to be a fantastic parent,” James concludes.

What did you think of the guys experiences? To find out more about adoption click here.

 

They give us a reason to get up in the morningWestern Bay’s Guide to Family Self Isolation