Two Dads, one very opinionated son.

Our Foster story, the journey from strangers to family.


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Big Boys Don’t Fly

In the early days, not long after he had moved in, our greatest test began, his behaviour.
It’s hard to describe what it was like as it was so inconsistent, erratic, irrational and constant.
The slightest thing could set him off and we could have screaming, crying, swearing, throwing, running, you name it, he had it in his arsenal and every single moment of it was a test of our patience.

A lot of it stemmed from his time in residential care, in a world where you grow up with no adults, just youth workers, in a house that is not your own, where rules cannot be enforced and there are no consequences, you begin to make your own rules. His time there had taught him very little, except that if he didn’t get his own way, he only had to scream and cry, which would usually result in negotiations to avoid an escalation, when negotiations failed, get physical, escalate.

When we had visited the house in our first visits there were holes in many of the walls, several walls missing large areas of plasterboard, his bed at the time was broken at the end and he slept on somewhat of a slant. This was the nature of his understanding of consequences, “natural consequences” they called it. In the absence of discipline in any way their only option was to allow him to live with the results of his behaviours, in this case, the damage around him. How effective that choice was is debatable, after having lived with the repercussions of this method we found ourselves questioning it’s validity.

The advice we had been given was to be consistent with rules and expectations, set clear boundaries around what was ok and what was not and to ensure we explained the nature of consequences.
And so we did.
And so it was good.
In theory.
What we could never account for was the sheer volume of the “escalations” as we came to call them when reporting them to the department, yes each escalation required a report, every time. Some of the early ones were the little ones, the running away at shower time, that was the easy stuff, the tough stuff came when we really had to follow through with what we said.

With limited options at our disposal, we had to go with the basic consequences, taking away small privileges for wrong doings, things like dessert, TV, play time, early to bed and taking away toys, unfortunately it was the consequences that quickly proved to be the trigger to our escalations.
Our rules were pretty simple, primarily focusing on basic expectations around following instructions and basic manners as well as good behaviour at school and at home, we didn’t want to set the expectations high, but we had to set them firmly.

The first time we sent him to bed early I was pretty sure our neighbours thought we were murdering him.

The reaction was something from another world, it was like watching the 7 stages of grieving fast forward in front of you. He would plead, beg, apologise, cry and then started the yelling, kicking and screaming. He threw himself on the lounge room floor and howled
“No dad no! Please! NO! DON’T! PLEASE! NO! I’LL DO ANYTHING!”
He knew how to work the system, but we were prepared and stuck our ground.
By the time he got to his room he had turned angry and started screaming, he had headed for the hallway and ran full pelt at the wall at the end, threw himself at the wall and dramatically slid himself to the ground.
He howled, jumped up, ran to his bedroom door and started screaming
“I HATE YOU! I DON’T WANT TO LIVE HERE!”
We tried to remain as calm as possible, reminding him of why he was going to bed early and that if he continued, there would be more consequences. None of this appeared to help, once in his room he screamed louder, we could hear him start to kick walls, throw toys, scream and yell, by this stage I believe the neighbours may have thought we were killing a village of small children judging by the amount of noise he was creating, but we persevered.

Eventually he would settle, often not until he had upturned the contents of his room, his bed or succeeded in rousing a reaction from us that would require us to re-enter the room to check on him. Sadly as we were warned, things would only get worse before they got better and as he continued to test the boundaries that we set his reactions intensified. Within a few small months we had 3 different holes in the walls in his room, we had heard every swear word imaginable and seen some distressing reactions that had shaken us.

Some of the most distressing behaviour was his disregard for his own safety, he would use threats against himself as a means to test us, trying desperately to see if we would really care at the same time as trying to act out against us. This disregard sometimes had to be taken seriously and sometimes we had to show him we weren’t going to react and continue as though nothing was happening.

One afternoon he took to throwing himself against the wall, rolling on the floor and screaming and we had to restrain and calm him, another evening he ran back into the kitchen and grabbed himself the nearest knife, quickly I managed to retrieve it and sent him back to his room. But as he continued to escalate the behaviour our resolve continued to grow, he stormed into the kitchen another evening as I was washing the dishes while he’d been sent to his room, he grabbed the nearest knife (a butter knife, bless) and pointed it at his arm.
“You don’t love me! I’m gonna cut myself cause you hate me!”
By this stage, these outbursts had become almost daily and whilst being aware of how far he could go and the likely hood of his actually following through I simply took a deep breath and turned to him calmly,
“I love you, but you’re going to need to take that outside if you’re going to do that”.
It was as though I’d slapped him.
He stopped, stunned and just stared at me, knife poised in his hand, caught off guard.
I smiled at him calmly and turned back to the dishes, moments later he walked up to the drawer, put the knife away and walked back to his room. It was this sort of attitude and approach that we had to adopt, we had to call his bluff, we had to know that what he wanted was a reaction, he wanted us to freak out and come running and although our natural instinct was to help him, to hug him, he had to know that this was not going to work.

Perhaps the point at which the behaviour hit it’s peak was one of the scariest both for us and for him.
During his end of year break up party  at school he came home on a sugar high unlike anything else, heavens knows what he’d been fed, but he was bouncing off the walls, almost literally. As he arrived home he had reached his peak and was slowly coming down and as he did so the behaviour continued erratically until he was told he needed to go to his room to calm down and that, was when hell broke lose.
The screaming began.
He ran.
Outside he ran to the fence and back inside, he tore up the hallway and into his room, he screamed, he kicked and he threw.
With only one of us home he was testing the boundaries even more and the decision to sit and wait it out was the only option.
Minutes passed and suddenly silence.
Minutes passed again and suddenly a sound outside.
Walking outside and looking down the stairs, below his 2nd story bedroom was a little body lying perfectly still on the ground.
Thankfully “Daddy” was the parent home for the afternoon, quickly he rushed down the stairs to check him.
“Mate, are you ok?”
“Yes, I think so…” came the shaky reply.
He checked him over, somehow, he seemed fine, somewhat shaken, but fine.
“Good, you need to go back to your room now.”
Evidently, boys can’t fly, but they do know how to give you a good scare. He had expected a reaction, he wanted one, he wanted something, somehow he wanted to take back control on the situation, but we couldn’t give in to what he wanted.
After he’d gone back to his room he settled until we were both home together again to talk through the afternoons events.
Evidently he’d been very calculated, climbing down and hanging from his windowsill before dropping himself from the lowest point for dramatic effect, cleverly making it look as though he had leaped the full 2 stories.

This was life for so long, test, trials, screaming and yelling. But it wasn’t all bad, in between was the beautiful good natured boy who just wanted to be loved and make friends. Whilst his methods weren’t optimal they were expected and were the only thing he’s ever known, it made it tough for him and tough for us, but we all persevered.

These days when you meet him you would never believe that he had ever behaved like this, he has adapted and learnt, he knows boundaries and he respects them. His consequences have reduced themselves through consistent good behaviour and this school term marks the first term he has been without a suspension of any form from school.
Whilst we may have taught him about rules, boundaries, respect and consequences he has taught us about patience and unconditional love, he’s tested and tried us and ultimately we’ve all come out on top.


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Brave, Powerful & Talented

Of the many questions that Flash fires away at us every minute, of every day, the one that I find the most interesting lately is;
“Are you proud of me?”
It’s a question that sometime just stuns me, he could ask it for the simplest reason, a good day at school, a good score on a test or because he cleaned his room without being asked, but it still just makes me look at him and smile.
How he could think we could be anything less than proud of him has me floored, for one little person who’s been through so much, every day we’re proud of him.

Perhaps what he never realises is how much we want him to be proud of us.

Being a parent was always going to be a difficult job, being gay parents was always going to be a slightly more challenging task, it comes with this subconscious feeling that sometimes we do have just that little bit more to prove, whether it be to ourselves, our son or to those around us.

For me, I’ve always wanted him to be proud of us, to know exactly who we are, what we stand for and why. Because lets face it, one day someone is going to throw mud in his face about his dads and I want there to be no doubt in his mind about who his fathers are and what they are capable of. I want him to feel pride, not shame if he is confronted with anything unpleasant, because when we are truly proud of who we are and where we come from, nothing can knock us down.

In the last 2 years I’ve taken on a lot of tasks outside of parenting, I sit on a couple of volunteer committees, including helping run our local pride events, some local media gigs and most recently I’ve taken up Rugby Union. Whilst I enjoy these things immensely  there’s a part of me that does them because I feel like I’ve got something to prove to Flash, to prove that his dads can do anything, they can take on the world with one hand behind their back and still come out with a smile on their face.
I want him to be educated, to see his fathers as two men and not simply as “gay men”, capable of doing anything at all, whilst still being fabulous.

He’s been involved in a lot of things for a child his age, occasionally he’s attended meetings with me to help plan our events, he’s been to my media gigs and watched and listened with avid fascination and he’s been to Rugby training countless times, either watching or joining in as best he can. All the while he’s been surrounded by amazing people who role model the best behaviours and experiences for him, I see him laughing, enjoying himself, taking it all in and digesting it all. Later he asks me questions, he wants to know about this decision and that decision, this person and that person and the definition of that word and all the while in the back of my head, subconsciously I’m thinking;
“Are you proud of me?

Part of our routine at home is visitors. From the Department of Child Safety, to our foster agency, then the Children’s Commissioner or his psychologist, at least once a fortnight or so different people from various departments stop to check in and say hello, checking to see that all 3 of us are healthy and happy. It is lovely that they care, but sometimes, just a bit of a drain on the brain when you’re in between marking homework, cooking dinner, cleaning the house and juggling phone calls, otherwise just another day in our house.

However perhaps one of my more favourite visits are those from his child psychologist, every fortnight she stops by to work with Flash and the 3 of us as a family, she generates some beautiful insight from him on how he perceives his  life and those around him and it’s always beautiful to hear him really speak from the heart.

I arrived home last week, walking in the door I was jumped on, literally and told at a million miles an hour the details of the visit thus far, unable to actually take any of it in, I took a seat on the carpet to have a look at what he’d been working on. His psychologist was sitting with him with his “life book” open and written across the page were words written neatly in crayon.
“Kind”
“Caring”
“Enthusiastic”
“Loving”
It stretched across 2 large pages and comprised about 25 words, as I read through them a very excitable little monkey climbed all over my back, squeaking and chattering in my ear about the words to explain them to me.
“They’re words about you and Daddy, like describing words for both of you”
I smiled and continued to read across the page, his psychologist pointed out to smaller sections with words below them.
“All of these words are words that describe both of you, but I asked him to choose one word for each of you and to give me a reason”
Underlined heavily were the words “Brave & Powerful” with a neat little sentence below them
Daddy can make anyone do anything he wants, even me!”
I giggled to myself, an interesting admission really, acknowledging that he used to get his own way, now, not so much.
Across the top of the page was the word “Talented”
“Dad is really talented because he can do anything with technology”
He attempted to climb, somehow trying to get himself onto one my shoulders, excitedly giggling away, wanting to know if I liked it.
“Of course I do sweetheart”
Yay” He squealed, leaped from my shoulders and jumped across the book.

Whether it’s pride, happiness, confidence or a bit of everything, he’s growing, he’s understanding and he’s becoming a bigger and stronger person with every passing day and for both us, we simply couldn’t be more proud of him or more proud to be his parents.
*As a side note our book is now closer to being published, extended content from each of these blog posts will be included in both the printed and digital copy. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for more updates as we get closer to publication.
Thank you again for continuing to read our story. 

 


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Won’t somebody think of the children?

I think one of the most hilarious questions we get is “How does he deal with having two [gay] dads?”, which can usually spin in to general conversation about how he goes with other kids at school dealing with it, general public, personal acceptance and so on and so forth.

Quite often I think it’s really easy for us all to forget, children don’t care about these things.

Recently I was at Flash’s sports day to see him compete, two young boys walked up beside me.
“Excuse me, are you his dad?”
“Yes”
“Cool…. Where’s his mum?”
“She’s not here.”
“Oh, is she like, at work?”
“I’m not sure, she doesn’t live with us”
“Oh, so is it just you and him?”
“No, it’s him and I and his other Dad”
“Oh, so he had two dads?”
“Yup”
“Cool, so did you like, adopt him?”
“Ummm, kind of.”
“Oh, Cool! See ya!”

I mean seriously we have no concept of exactly how important it is that there is an appropriate amount of time allocated to the afternoon to play lego, bounce on the trampoline, pat the dog, beg for computer time, read a book and maybe watching some TV. Like that is some serious stuff in the world of a kid and we want to consider if they’re bothered by who is loving who?

It was always going to be interesting as we progressed forwards on this journey and became friends with more and more people who had children that the concept of “Two Dads” would become more fluid, but we were always a little trepidatious to begin with. There’s the fear that someone may think you’re attempting to “educate” their children when it’s not your place or simply finding yourself in an awkward encounter with unpleasant parents, but overall it’s been much smoother than we ever expected. The new parental friends we’ve all made have been nothing short of amazing, from “Mum & Dad” parents, to “Two Mums” and even our amazing friends who are “Mum and “(Trans)Mum” the support, guidance, love and acceptance that these people give to their children is what is helping us to raise a generation of amazing people who accept and love without prejudice and it’s these teachings, coupled with the beauty and innocence of young minds that makes life that much easier for us.

Acceptance for Flash was instantaneous, he sees no issue with it, he simply thinks it’s great that he gets two dads and his issues with other kids in the playground has only ever happened once.

I got the call to collect him from after school care one afternoon, he was having a meltdown.
When I arrived I queried what had happened
“He got up and told everyone to ‘get fucked’ and ran out of the room and down to the oval”
“Interesting… have you asked him why yet?”
“Well… no, he’s just waiting in my office”
Brushing aside my annoyance at him failing to actually investigate the issue, noting he was now calm and collected we headed off home, he was silent in the car ride home, we got home, showered and sat down for dinner.
Across the dinner table I asked him what had actually happened.
His eyes were downcast and he didn’t want to tell me.
“It’s ok” I said,
“You’re not in trouble, I just need to know”.
“Well” he said, “I was sitting with this kid and he was talking about his mum and dad and I said ‘You’re really lucky you get to live with your mum AND dad, I don’t, I just have my two dads’ and he said to me ‘Well, they’re really gay then aren’t they.’ and I got really mad and upset because he was being nasty about you and daddy and I didn’t like it, so I yelled at him and I ran away”.
Well, that certainly was an interesting story to take in.
“Why did you get upset? He wasn’t saying anything mean about us?”
“But… I thought he was?”
“No honey, he’s right” I said “Do you remember when we first talked about Daddy and I, ‘Gay’ IS a word to describe two men or two ladies in love, it’s not a bad thing at all. I know sometimes you might hear kids use it as a word to describe things they don’t like, but when they’re talking about Daddy and I, it’s right and it’s nothing to be upset about”.
You could see the relief wash over him and a smile lit up his little face.
The issue hadn’t been about our sexuality, the issue had been about someone being nasty about his dads. It had been that long since we’d talked about the word “Gay” that it was still registering as a negative word in his head. He’d simply heard someone speaking ill of us and was upset, he didn’t know how to control it, so he lashed out and ran off.
We told him if anyone ever said it in the future again to say “Yes, they are!” and to be proud of it because there’s nothing to be ashamed of and he has been ever since, he has proudly acknowledged us as “gay” many times and today that it occurred again, in the most interesting of places.

For paid work at the moment I do a variety of things, freelancing and community work if you will, one of those things is supply teaching, I end up in different schools doing different things. I’m never one to be coy about my sexuality, in any school I’m very open with my co-workers, even when I work in Catholic schools, I’ve even worked in a Catholic high school where all the students found out, it’s never been a huge drama. Lately I’ve been doing more work than usual in primary schools, a recent contract has had me working in learning support for a primary school with some very lovely young people each day.

The thing about primary school children is that they want to know EVERYTHING about you, where you live, what car you drive, do you have pets, where you went to school and what colour socks you’re wearing? As a teacher in any school we’re always taught to draw those lines in the sand regarding allowing students in to our “personal lives” as such, that and if we answered every question they ever asked we’d simply go mad. The lines are pretty easy to draw around what is appropriate for me but one of the things that I chose not to deal with is the issue of sexuality. It’s certainly not about shame, but moreso, life is so much easier if we put that to the wayside, the logistics of having to tell a classroom full of 8 year olds that you’re married to a man and you have a child together is enough to do anyone’s head in, so it’s best just to keep that to the side. However, along came Flash.

I have a particular student who loves to pry, he’s from my learning support unit and he’s adorable but he wants to know everything, in the nicest way possible.
Now unfortunately Flash was home from school for the day and owing to conflicting schedules Daddy had to work in the afternoon and leave while Dad was still teaching, I had clearance to leave for the afternoon so Flash was getting dropped off at school and I was taking him back home for the rest of the day.

The car pulled up near my building, I walked down and we had a chat as Flash leapt from the car to say hello.
Sure enough my little inquisitor rocked up to say hello as well, full of questions again.
As we went to walk upstairs he was walking behind us chatting
“So where’s you’re girlfriend?”
“Sorry mate I don’t have one”
“But don’t you have a fiance? You’ve got an engagement ring”
I’ll chat to you about it later mate” I said
Flash rolled his eyes
“You just met his fiance”
“What?”
At this point Flash must have thought the boy was an idiot, clearly he had the impression that surely this boy should have known, so he simply turned around and politely said
“Don’t you know, he’s GAY”

What followed from there was nothing short of beautiful, to me anyway.
The kid just let out a long “ooooooooooh” as we continued to walk, we reached the stairs and I turned to speak to him
Mate, there’s nothing wrong with what he just said, but I’d just like you to understand that that’s personal information and it’s a conversation that’s happened just between the 3 of us.”
“Oh no, it’s ok sir, my mum’s got a couple of lesbian friends, I’ve been around it heaps before, you’re cool sir.”
He smiled at me and reached out to shake my hand
“Besides sir, you’re my mate, It’s cool”
It was just so genuine and real, it was very adorable.
We got upstairs and he followed us in, as we packed our things down and went to leave he went to shake my hand again and looked me in the eyes,
“You’re ok mate, I love you mate.”

It took me by surprise, but certainly made my smile, I could write a lot to describe why this boy felt it the need to say it, but funnily I think it partly tied in with his religious upbringing, the great relationships he has with his regular teachers and obviously the great exposure he has previously had in life around “gay” people that was able to speak like that, it floored me, but couldn’t stop me smiling all day.

But I think today I’m really very sure, we ARE thinking of the children and in the words of the movie, The kids are alright.


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A Little Bit of Laughter

After recovering from a hectic Christmas and New Years with our little man and our large extended family I’m still working on putting together our next blog piece.

But in the meantime I found this little gem on a wonderful little Facebook “Dad Squared”

http://www.facebook.com/pages/DADsquared/171102599661333?fref=ts

It’s one of those little things that makes me laugh for so many reasons, but mainly because I hope that one day if our little man faces any kind of adversity from growing up with Two Dads, this is the sort of good humour and confidence he will be able to use to in those situations

Happy New Years Everyone! – Next Post, coming soon… xx

MyTwoDADs


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Preparation and Planning

It’s very humbling the feedback we get from this blog and the number of people that are reading! I’ve been asked many times lately when the next instalment is coming, but between working and parenting the time to unwind and write is sometimes hard to find!

It’s been a rather reflective (and trying) time over the last few weeks as we watch our little man grow and develop both physically and mentally, he reaches milestones in his progress with us that make us smile with pride, whilst at the same time we often watch progress slip away as past behaviours arise again and we commence an uphill battle to help him get back on track. It really seems hard to believe that we’re approaching our 2nd Christmas together already (and starting on amazing plans for our 3rd too!).

Sitting in the living room I look up and catch a flash of him stalking down the hallway, he has a set of glasses on (his 3D set from the movies), a random hat, a bag swung across his back and a variety of toys clipped, tied and stuck to him as he creeps forward. I look at him quizzically.
“Shhh Dad” He says.
“I’m a detective.”
Of course he is.

This is nothing unusual in his day to day play time, but one of those small milestones in his development, he no longer craves the constant attention of adults to play with him and occupy him, he is confident and happy to set about his own activities, create his own games and work with his imagination. 12 months ago this kind of behaviour was much rarer, to see him calm, passive and willing to play and explore on his own was a rarity and if enough attention was not coming his way we were welcomed to some interesting behaviour, which is where our training came in.

When we left off our next step in preparation for becoming carers was our training. An interesting place to be.
Training foster carers is an important and almost impossible task. Not because you cant train them, but because the training is about preparing you for what is ahead and when you are caring for a child in care, nothing is ever predictable and you can never be prepared for any and everything that may come your way.
To put it in perspective, it’s like preparing for a cyclone, you know all the standard behaviours of a cyclone, wind, rain, hail, damage etc, but you can never predict where and how these things will manifest when it hits, the same could be said for a child in care, they can train you for as many possibilities, but you can never know when or how these things may eventuate.

Unfortunately when training came around we had to take it in turns attending the sessions and weren’t always able to make it as a pair, which could have been all the more daunting, but for the lovely ladies who were there to train and guide us along the way. One in particular is a shining beacon of light in this journey, a lady who has worked with us since day 1 and still continues to work with and support us now. You speak to her and hear her stories, the things she says and the work that she does and you know that she has seen the worst and dealt with people and situations that any other person could never dare to think we could handle.

Yet still she smiles, she exudes a love, a light and confidence that make us grateful not only for her help and guidance in our own situation but for the joy and hope you know she has brought in to the lives of countless children in care. She and countless others are the backbone of this system and the words she imparts have been the greatest gift we have received, without her this journey would be all the more harder, it is this support that is provided to Foster carers that is invaluable.

Her training sessions were lively and full of the support we needed, whilst also full of the usual situations that sometimes copped the drier side of my humour, but ultimately they are tough and confronting, they prepare you for situations you will face and some situations you won’t and certainly hope not too. We also learnt some harsh realities about the process which we had to face, such as;

  • You may not know the complete background of the child in your care, sometimes it is not entirely known and sometimes it is for your benefit to not have full disclosure. Something we struggled with.
  • The biological parents of the child in your care will in most cases know your home address, it is their right as the parents to know where their child is. We struggled very hard with this, but our trainers were supportive in explaining the intricacies of this process and how we and the child in our care were protected.
  • All children in care have suffered some form of trauma, this can vary and cannot always be known or disclosed, this was the crux of the training, preparing us for how these differing forms of trauma could manifest themselves.

These might seem like some small points, but when you are preparing to take a child in to your care, you want to know everything you can, knowledge becomes this essential thing which you crave, you want to know so you can do everything you can to best care for this child to the best of your ability.
Knowing and understanding that the parents will know where you live was one of the hardest, it tapped into this fear that starts echoing in your head, all the little “what ifs” that you could think that may happen, you can see little cracks appearing in the plans you’ve started to lay for the sort of happy household you’ve planned for this child, but again the trainers and their words put us at ease and true to form, we are well over a year down the track and everything they say has rung true.

When I say those words ring true, this was in many regards, not only have we been safe and supported and seen our little man grow from strength to strength, but we’ve seen some of those not so pleasant behaviours, they were tough, but they passed and we’re all still here!

I remember in our first 3 months, which were some of the most trying, it was a daily occurrence for weeks on end that he would up and run away, not because we were awful people, but for some of the most simple tasks, most commonly brushing his teeth, having a shower or eating his breakfast. Being taken from his normal routine was such a big thing for him, living in a situation where he had so much routine, to introduce new routines and expectations brought out so much anxiety, fear and trepidation in him that quite often his natural instinct was to run. So off he would go, you turn your back for 3 seconds and he was down the stairs, on his bike, on his scooter or on foot, trotting out of the house as fast as his little legs would take him.
Those first few times, the fear was consuming, out we would run, down the road to chase him and bring him back, until after a week or so of this tiresome exercise, we would walk out on to the verandah, calmly wave goodbye and tell him,
“We’re not chasing you mate, we’ll wait here til you come back, we love you and we want you here, so you have to come back” (or something to that effect) and then watching from a shielded postion inside we would see him only go so far as he could still see the house, plonk himself down on the grass and watch the house to see if we would come for him, it never lasted more than five minutes before he would up and bring himself back, head down, tail between his legs, ready to brush his teeth and get ready for the day ahead.

Theres more of those stories to come, but again we must leave you until our next update where we get to let you in on the story of meeting our little man for the first time, something we will never forget. But in the meantime between now and then we had begun our planning and purchasing for our little mans “room to be”, I’ve included a little snapshot, I still look at it and smile.

More to come..

Bedroom


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An Introduction of Sorts

When I was a teenager I read this really great series of books, a sci-fi series about an alien invasion, funnily enough the same series our son is now reading, the characters in the books were telling their stories but having to keep their identities a secret so they weren’t discovered, which is kind of the premise of this blog, a way to share our story, while keeping our identities protected, but sadly, no aliens.

Now I feel like I’ve set the tone for some great adventure novel, a gripping and dangerous story! Forgive me if I’ve led you astray, I think our story is worth telling and hopefully you stay with us to read it through, our story is simple, it’s about about our little family, made up of just two ordinary dads and our (highly opinionated) son.

It’s a common question when we introduce James as our son to people “Oh, that’s lovely! So when did you adopt him?” and from there a dismissive response that doesn’t articulate the situation is often easiest to provide, but often we find ourselves telling the story of how we came to become foster carers and in turn a family, a situation that has arisen with large similarities to adoption, but also vast differences. We hope by telling this side to our story that perhaps more people will become motivated to become foster carers as well.

There are some things you will always remember clear as day for many years to come and the day we decided to become foster carers was one of them. Lacking in the natural beauty you may be expecting to come of this situation we were actually driving home from the movies on a Saturday afternoon chatting about our future, after a relationship heading towards the pointy end of a decade and an engagement just shy of 12 months old, the talk of children and the rest of our lives together was the topic of this trip. Given the lovely state we reside in within Australia, adopting a child for heterosexual couples is a logistical and expensive nightmare at the best of times and a legal impossibility for a gay couple, so our discussion moved to surrogacy and those options presented to us. By no stretch of the truth many of our very wonderful close friends had offered their services to us in aid of helping us to bring a child in to this world over the years and we began to talk about these people and those options. We quite honestly couldn’t find a situation we were equally comfortable with. Amongst that discussion was the morality of bringing a child in to the world when we have the opportunity to provide for a child who is already in need, an interesting point that led us in an alternate direction. After a lengthy discussion as to whether we could actually legally be foster carers we simply turned to the wisest person in the car and asked Google. Falling short of a detailed accurate answer he was able to provide us with the phone number for the governments foster care department, which we called on the spot and left a message to be returned at a later date.

Some days later I was surprised with a call from the department who completed a simple 20 minute phone interview on our motivations to become carers, after our interview she forwarded our details to their register of foster care agencies and within a few weeks a flyer had arrived in the mail inviting us to attend an information evening. With some trepidation we arrived and were welcomed with open arms and discovered some great information regarding becoming carers, most notably that being gay was NOT an issue, our professional and personal life skills were of more interest and with our background in health and education we were regarded as primary candidates for becoming carers. Most surprising of all was that anyone can quality as a foster carer, you can be:

  • Single
  • Defacto
  • Married
  • Gay
  • Unemployed
  • Full Time Employed
  • Carers can care for children Full Time, Part Time or even act as respite carers (every 2nd weekend etc)

The criteria was only around your skills and ability to care for a child who had experienced trauma, which nearly all children in care have. We found there was extensive training provided (nearly 9 months of training, interviews and assessments took place!), personnel support, financial support and even emotional support to ourselves as carers and the children in our care.

What we really took from a lot of that training was the knowledge and understanding that most children in care, will return to the care of their families and loved ones at some point, whether this be a matter of weeks from entering your care or even up to 2 years, but the process is always focussed on reunification with the families, making your role as a carer absolutely vital in helping to re-establish positive relationships between the children and their families. We learned that nearly 70% of children will return to home, while just 30% will remain in long term care until they come of age.

What was funny was this training and information prepared us to realistically understand that you don’t become a foster carer because you want to have a child of your own, you do it so that you can help to have a positive influence in a young person’s life. They prepare you to understand that this is not “your child”, but you are there to love them and care for them as your own.

It’s funny because we weren’t to know that we would in fact end up in that 30% and end up bringing a child in to our home who would not return to live anywhere else, we would actually end up as a family.

I want to go in to greater detail, but I dont want to tell everything in one post and make things too lengthy, but I want to continue to tell our story and let people know just how beautiful and incredibly difficult this can be. We’ve had so many highs and lows I look forward to sharing them with you all.

For now perhaps I can share with you a snapshot of our life as it stands. I’m sitting here writing his as our son sleeps in his room, he’s been reading Harry Potter for most of the afternoon since we got home and has finally tired and fallen asleep. We’ve come back from a lunch for my nephews birthday where he has been playing and running around with the rest of our family who accept him as one of our own. He loves playing in the backyard at home, which he didn’t get to today, he’ll spend hours in the sandpit digging and shovelling and calling out “Dad! Daddy!” and dragging us out to show us something he dug up. Keeping him company in the yard is our family dog, with whom he has developed a unique bond, as he plays she stands guard, sitting in the sand pit or patrolling the fence line.

He chose some time ago to stop calling us by our names and instead chose to select us each one as “Dad” and the other as “Daddy”, something he indignantly corrects us on if one responds to the incorrect title “No (he pouts), I wasn’t talking to you, I was talking to DAD, you’re DADDY!”. He attends school as normal, but he struggles with his work, in the afternoons we spend lots of time working with him on his handwriting, spelling and his maths, all of which he struggles with (the metaphor of “herding cats” is most appropriate). After a life of inconsistent care he has fallen behind and we work hard to help him catch up. He’s no angel and like all children gets in his fair share of trouble. He is cheeky, adorable and knows how to get his own way with anyone! But he is loved and for the first time in his life is really beginning to feel and understand it. He has become our son and we live together, as a family.

I hope to keep this up to date and continue writing, the journey to get where we are now has been so long, I could write for weeks and weeks on end. I hope you’ll stay with us and come back to read more.

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