This Sunday families across the county will be marking Father’s Day, but it’s not only birth fathers who will be celebrating.
A number of adoptive parents will also mark the occasion having given vulnerable children a loving home.
Robert* is one of hundreds of people who have adopted a child with support of Adoption Mid and West Wales – a collaborative of adoption teams covering the four local authorities of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys.
He will be celebrating his first Father’s Day this year having adopted with his wife after they struggled to conceive, and has spoken of the ‘privilege’ he feels to become a dad and why he encourages others to come forward.
“So let’s start with a fundamental issue. I will never know how it feels to father a child that is a product of my genes and DNA. My family bloodline stops here. Lots of people have told me in the past that a birth child is a beautiful fusion of your physical characteristics and the ultimate expression of the love a couple has for each other (although the last person to tell me that is now divorced). My wife and I went through fertility treatment in pursuit of this apparent ideal, and in the end the gift the consultants gave to us was there absolute certainty that it was not going to succeed.
“This opened the door to us going down the adoption route, which led to a beautiful 11-month old boy being brought into our lives. He has been with us over a year now, and in all honesty I see no difference in what I do with my little buddy and what other dad friends do and the joy they share. We laugh the same, muck about the same, cry the same, teach him silly things while mummy despairs. I genuinely believe I feel the same as they do too. I love him with all my heart, would do anything to protect him and want to make sure he grows up to be a healthy and well-rounded human being.
“He is a happy little chap and is developing well, if anything I feel like he is ahead of children his age (see I’m a competitive boasting parent the same). When I come from work and he shouts “Daddy” with his arms outstretched, excitement in his face and joy in his eyes, he certainly doesn’t appear to have any doubts about our bond as father and son. I won’t pretend that this has all been plain sailing, and the fact our marriage has been built on solid foundations helps my wife and I get through tough moments. The ability to laugh together helps a lot too! It is true we are at the start of our adoption journey in comparison to a lot of others out there, and everyone’s experiences are different. There will be difficult moments ahead – that I am sure of – and the knowledge we have gained about therapeutic parenting is being used on a daily basis. There is also so much joy to come too, through watching our little man develop as he shares our interests, values and outlook on the world.
“I certainly don’t feel a sense of loss from not having a birth child, instead I feel privileged to be able to start a family through adoption. I’m sure if I spent too long thinking about all the fundamental aspects of it all I could quite easily wind myself up. But do you know what? I’m having too much fun to care.”
Adoption Mid and West Wales has adoption teams covering the four local authorities of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys. Their aim is to make sure that children grow up as part of a permanent, loving family from childhood through to adulthood.
Carmarthenshire County Council’s social services departments provide a range of services and resources to help families to care for their children but, where this is not possible, their Adoption Service finds permanent alternative families.
In the last year (2017-18) 29 adopters were approved – these include married couples, unmarried couples, single people and same sex couples – but there is always the need for more adopters to come forward as demand for adoption placements has increased this year.
Cllr Glynog Davies, executive board member for education and children’s services, said: “It doesn’t matter whether you already have children, whether you’re single or a couple, whether you’re married, unmarried or in a civil partnership, the most important things are their personal characteristics, resilience, insight into a child’s needs and ability to commit to becoming parents, rather than any factors such as employment, housing or marital status.”
For more information please visit www.adoptionmwwales.org.uk
Myths about adoption:
1. I can’t adopt because I’m not married
There are adopters from all walks of life – single, in couples, same sex couples – it is about having the capacity, time and commitment to provide the love and care for children.
2. I need to own my own home to adopt
You can be an adopter without owning your home, but you will have to a have space and stability to offer – whether you are a tenant or home owner.
3. I’m too old to adopt
Adopters have to be 21 years old or older. There is no upper age limit and we take account of each applicant’s individual circumstances on a case by case basis, including her/his health, lifestyle and support network.
4. I can’t adopt because I already have a child
You can. Different children have different needs. Some adopted children benefit hugely from the relationship they build up with adopters’ birth children and vice versa. For others a household with no other children will suit them better. That’s why we need a range of prospective adopters.
5. There aren’t any babies available for adoption
The majority of children needing adoptive families are aged between 2 and 5 years of age. However we do sometimes need adopters for very young children.