Complete your family – adopt with Lambeth
Ian MacMillan and Andy Hitchman adopted their five-year-old son this March. They’ve found it such a wonderful experience, they’ve become staunch ambassadors of the greatness of adoption. Here, they share their story:
Ian talks about their decision to adopt: “Although we are a gay couple, we had both felt at one time or another that we would like to be parents (even though we’d not talked about it that much). We both have brothers and sisters who have families and we’d watched them growing up and enjoyed being with them and I guess somehow we really wanted this experience for ourselves.
“This all came to a head when we found ourselves looking after one of our nephews for the entire weekend a couple of years back… It was such a pleasure having this little boy to care for and look after and the following week we somewhat spontaneously ended up talking about the whole parenting thing. As soon as we realised it was something we both really wanted, we agreed it was now or never and straight away applied to adopt via our local authority.”
Andy says: “Without a doubt, it’s been the greatest decision we have ever made. In some respects we perhaps wish we had thought about it sooner, but then we would not have had the extraordinary little boy we do now so perhaps it was fate.
“We knew, after all the procedure and preparation we had gone through, that looked after children can come with a whole series of issues and challenges but in the main it has been remarkably stress-free … so far! Although it has only been eight months, our house feels like it has always been a ‘family home’ and our son has settled very well. We’ve all adapted to our new lives and completely love sharing our time together. It truly is hard to imagine what life was like without a bundle of energy storming through the house.”
Ian adds: We’ve faced the usual challenges any parent does, presumably. There are tantrums and boundaries to work through as there would be with any kid of his age. It is, admittedly, probably more tricky because there are behaviours and experiences from his past that we need to be tuned into and take on board. He does still talk about his biological mother and it is sometimes hard to explain to him as sensitively as we can why she wasn’t able to look after him properly.
“It might be that as a same-sex couple, neither of us has taken over as “new mummy” so there’s only the one image in his head of a mother, especially when he’s either reading stories that have a mummy in them, or relating to his classmates whose mummies are generally the ones on the school run. Having said that, he totally recognises us as his parents now, and to watch just how much he has grown in confidence under our care is almost impossible to put into words. The ultimate benefit is knowing that we have given a child a loving, stable and happy home, and the love and smiles we get in return more than makes up for any challenging moments.”
Andy says: “Our advice to prospective adopters is to do as much research as you can to fully prepare yourselves, both about the adoption process in general and also about the child you eventually find and might be matched with. Be prepared for a very major life change, and especially be prepared for spontaneous issues that seem to come from nowhere. Go into it with an open mind at all times, and be prepared to talk about yourselves, your life and your past at great length. This last point can be hard for some people, and we met some other adopters who found it a little intrusive at times though personally it wasn’t a problem for us.”
Ian adds: “Try to forge the best relationship you can with your social worker. He or she should be your champion at all times.”
“The adoption process was sometimes enlightening, sometimes emotionally exhausting, and sometimes a test of one’s patience as there will inevitably be delays. We found the child we wanted in mid-November and did not meet him until the end of February 2014. There are obviously extremely good reasons why it is not an instant process, but the waiting can be hard especially when it gets to the matching panel stage.”
For more on adopting with Lambeth see our dedicated website.