A big gay wedding: cutting it close! (Edited)

Ok, so it wasn’t that big, or even that gay, though Ivan would argue I added a touch of gay by being there. It wasn’t in fact even a wedding, given that back in the day us ‘gays’ couldn’t actually get married. It was technically our civil partnership. Which to us, well it was our wedding!
My partner Ivan had been in hospital for nearly 3 weeks, after an accident with a Pony left him fighting for his life and his leg. He had just come out of the operating theatre after a 9 hour op to repair his leg, now that the infection was under control. There were only 5 days left until our wedding. The Dr’s weren’t convinced that Ivan would be well enough to be discharged in time. Ivan was determined that he would be.
Wil, our son, well he just wanted Daddy home.

You can imagine how overjoyed we were, when 3 days later, Ivan was given the all clear to come home. He had strict instructions, and a wheelchair, but he was allowed home. And best of all, we had 2 days in which to practice getting him into his suit!

The night before the wedding I had a little surprise for Ivan. No, not that. That would have been a big surprise!

I had arranged for his best mate from the army, along with his wife, to come to the wedding, unbeknown to Ivan. They arrived the night before and crept into the garden, and snuck up behind Ivan. Ivan was gobsmacked.

The next morning we were up and about early. Far from being struck down by lightening, or pelted with hailstones in retribution for daring to want to marry another man (far less have a child with said man), the skies were a wonderful blue and the sun was bright. It was going to be a good day.

It all went amazingly smoothly. We were keeping it simple. There was only us, and Wil, two great friends as witnesses, and of course our suprise guests. We got to the registry office, having managed to suitably clad ourselves in suits. Wil too looked dashing in a shirt and waist-coat. The staff were brilliant. We had forgot to tell them that Ivan was now in a wheelchair, but it was no issues at all. It was a short, but perfect service, shared with us by Wil and our good friends. It was 01st May 2010
and we were married!!

From the registry office, we made our way to the local pub. We had hired it for a few hours to share the rest of the day with our friends and family. As planned, they drifted in and out throughout the day. It was superb! We had just one dilemma. Should Ivan drink or not?! Now we know he probably shouldn’t, he’s a light-weight at the best of times, ha, let alone when he’s dosed up on meds! But sod it, you only get married once! He did drink, and he managed not to fall over once. The advantage of being pushed everywhere in a wheelchair I guess!

We wrapped up the day fairly early. Ivan had only been out of hospital 2 days. He’d performed miracles, but was shattered. The day was perfect though. It may not have been the biggest, or the gayest, or even technically a wedding, but to us it was exactly what we needed.

The year had proven to us that we would stick together, as a family, through anything.

We make a great family.

Maybe it was time to start thinking about expanding it……

(Previously published on http://www.gayswithkids.com)

Having a ‘fu*k’ it day!

I’ve had a ‘fuck it’ day and it’s been absolutely wonderful! If you haven’t had one recently go on, you deserve it.

I’ve had a rare Monday off.


It started with a well deserved lay in. Followed by a lovely cuddle with the husband and some deliciously uninterrupted ‘adult time’ together under the duvet.  Haha, okay, you’ve got me! Just kidding. I’m a parent, mornings like that are for those without kids!

It actually started, as usual, with me waking early. My mind whirring away thinking of all the chores I had to do that day, at the same time fending off my long-suffering husbands wandering hands, ever conscious of the kids bound to wake as soon as we started something.

Instead, I mentally prepared my days agenda; I had at least two loads of washing to do….mostly made up of stuff not even worn by the kids, instead just stuff they’ve chucked onto the floor and then tidied into the wash basket when I’ve shouted at them to clear their room. Then I had the bathroom to clean. I couldn’t continue to ignore the smell of wee around the toilet from our three little angels, who are clearly crap at aiming,  and yet point blank refuse to sit down because ” that’s what girls do!” Then I had to hoover through, whilst tidying the kids discarded ‘shit’ from yesterday…most of which I had already cleared away once the day before. I then needed to think about what to prepare the little darlings for dinner when they got back from school. Oh and I needed to shop, as the cupboards are bare, and nip to the pharmacy for Louis’ medication. All of this after feeding the goats, ducks and chickens. Walking and feeding the dogs and checking on the horses. A parents job is never done. Never a truer word spoken. I love being a parent, really l do, but sometimes it seems it’s just a never ending roundabout of one crappy chore after another!

That said, the morning started off surprisingly well actually.  The kids got up without too much shouting…from us or them…and they didn’t take the usual half hour deciding what they wanted for breakfast. It didn’t last though. It quickly went tits up when Wil slipped, face first, into his full bowl of cereal, tipping the contents over himself, the table, the floor and probably the neighbours too judging by the mess! How can one child be so clumsy?! Love him!  I blame the Sigston genes…..their kids tend to have big (huge) heads and Wil is still getting used to his. I’ve tried to teach him that he shouldn’t look down too much until his neck muscles are stronger, to avoid incidents like this. But he refuses to listen.  He did make up for it however by volunteering to help me feed the goats and chickens and collect the eggs. One job down.

Uniforms quickly ironed, boys dressed and hair slicked back with copious amounts of gel, we finally got to school only a few minutes late. Success on a Monday morning!

With a happy sigh and a clunk of the car door I sat in the drivers seat of our car, relishing the first silence of the day. Then promptly broke that silence by turning the radio up full blast and driving off singing to Brittany at the top of my lungs!  What? I’m gay. And singing makes me happy! Don’t judge 😄.

Back home, after a lovely autumnal dog walk and two (okay, maybe three) cups of tea later, I decided I couldn’t put my chores off any longer. Resigned to my fate I headed upstairs , grabbed the wash basket, and hauled it downstairs and into the kitchen. Which is where it stayed.

Looking around and mentally thinking about what I had yet to do I just thought fuck it! Screw the schedule. It can wait.. it’ll all need doing again tomorrow anyway. With a gleeful voice I danced around the house singing ‘fuck it!’ ‘fuck it!’ ‘fuck it!’ Like some mad football chant, dogs looking at me like I’d gone crazy!

Fuck it! I was going to have a me day!

Decision made I grabbed my swimmers and headed to the local pool…..50 lengths,  a jacuzzi and 3 sessions in the sauna later I felt great. And do you know what? I didn’t think about that list of jobs once. Nada. Nothing. Not an ounce of guilt. Just blissful relaxation and calm. Perfect.

I couldn’t neglect my adulting completely however. I still had to get stuff for tea and nip to the pharmacy for Louis’ prescription,  but this was easily softened with a coffee stop on route!

Picking up the kids from school later and getting home I didn’t feel the usual rush and stress. I felt calm. I was able to deal with the kids usual snipes and gripes much easier. I even managed to get some of the chores ticked off the to do list after all. And, as a bonus, my zen like calmness had rubbed off on the kids too. They were more helpful, friendly to each other even! Unheard of usually! We ended up having a delicious evening in fact. I loved it. I have decided this parenting lark is pretty good after all. And our boys are pretty special too.

So next time I feel like having a ‘fuck it’ day, I won’t hesitate.  I will grab it with both hands. I clearly needed it on this occasion and we all deserve some me time sometimes, don’t we?

And you know what. I may not even stop the husbands wandering hands tonight. Fuck it!!

Love S xx

A positive panel: Choosing Our Baby

We have recently had the wonderful news that some friends of ours have been approved to adopt. This news has been a long time coming, and is truly deserved. After a dedicated couple of years of being in the ‘process’ this result couldn’t make for a better start to 2018. Congratulations guys! So happy for you. You’re going to be bloody amazing Dad’s, a wonderful family.

Reflecting on their news brought back the truly overwhelming feelings (whilst at the same time slightly mind numbing too) of joy, fear, excitement and relief; just a few emotions tearing through our heads when we too received that wonderful first yes! Back in 2012.

Speaking to them about their experience of the adoption panel brought back my own emotions; heart racing fear, body shaking terror, mind-blanking panic….All palatable things that I felt at the time of our panel!

In truth, the panel was warm, inviting, professional and friendly. It’s only hindsight however that allows me to see this. At the time my mind created scholars and judges and fire-breathing dragons, all interviewing us for the dream job we’d spent our whole life training for! Genuinely I don’t think much can prepare you for your panel better than the process put in place by the local authority. The background and insight into yourself they draw out of you. Your life, your thoughts, your beliefs. It truly does give you the groundwork for analysing and creating tangible reasons around why you want to become parents. And how you’ll manage that in reality. At least that was our experience.

The rest was covered by our heartfelt desire and knowledge that we wanted to expand our family….and that we were ready for it. We were thinking maybe we’d be the next Waltons family. More likely we’d end up like the Adams family, but we were willing to take that risk.

Anyway, once we’d received that golden Yes! from the panel we went home slightly dumbstruck. What happened now? What could we expect? We were going to get a new child, our family was growing. It was all becoming very real. Very exciting. Very scary.

We were unaware though of what decisions we yet had to make…We thought that completing our approval panel meant the hard work was done. We couldn’t have been more wrong. After all, what decision could be harder than choosing your own child?

Ivan and I were thrilled with the outcome of our panel. As were our family and friends. It seems ridiculous now, but we’d spent so much time and energy on our panel that we hadn’t thought about how we’d feel actually ‘choosing’ a child, or indeed how that even worked.

As part of the initial process we’d had to complete a really tough questionnaire….deciding on paper what sort of child we wanted; black, white, boy, girl, physically able or not, learning disability or not, deaf, blind…..the list went on. We found it horrible. I get the need for it, I really do. But being given such a choice felt wrong, like we were being unfair ruling certain ‘types’ of child out. Still we had to do it, so we did, to the best of our ability. Unfortunately it came back to bite us on the bum a couple of years later. You see, when we adopted our youngest son they resurrected the initial form we had completed… and decided they were not going to let us adopt him. When we completed the form, many moons before, we’d ticked that we wouldn’t consider a child with cerebral palsy…. only due to the rural location we live in. Thinking that it would be a hard environment for a child with mobility issues to contend with. There was a question mark over our youngests mobility, a possibility that he had CP. The reality was that it didn’t matter to us….Yes we’d ticked that box on paper….but we’d fallen in love with him and we knew that he’d thrive in our family, we wanted to adopt him. It took us sometime to convince the local authority of this but thankfully in the end we did.

But i’ve gotten side tracked. This post is about the decisions we had yet to make and how difficult it was. The feelings around having a successful panel and then the reality of choosing a child.

So, knowing that we had approval to adopt, we made the mistake of looking at the adoption magazines. These magazines basically contain pictures of children needing adoptive parents accompanied by some text with background information on them. To us though they just felt like catalogues. There were so many photos of children, either alone or in sibling groups, all looking at us with pleading eyes. And genuinely if we had the means and it was the right thing to do we would give a home to every one of them. It was heart wrenching. Why hadn’t they already found a home? Generally the kids in the magazines are the ones that are harder to place, haven’t yet found their adoptive family for a number of reasons. Have been in the system for a while. There were so many that we made notes on and intended to speak to our social worker about. Our hearts and heads knowing we could provide a warm and stable environment for them.

When we met with our social worker though he immediately threw a spanner in the works. A very welcome and perfect spanner as it turned out.

Dave, our social worker, came to visit and brought us a profile of the most amazing boy. The research and insight Dave had got into us from the months he’d been working with us had clearly paid off. We knew this boy would fit our family perfectly and hopefully we would be perfect for him. We knew immediately that we wanted to adopt that boy. And the rest, as they say, is history. 5 years later and he is growing into the most amazing young man. I am so proud that I am able to call him Son and for him to call me Dad.

There are so many questions we had and possible barriers to adopting our boys. Unsure about backgrounds, question marks around development, ginger hair. When it boiled down to it, we went with our heart. It hasn’t let us down.

I still think about all those other children though and sincerely hope that they too found their perfect home. If you have ever thought about adopting a child please look into it further. So many of you could offer a wonderful home to a child. And they have so much to give back.

Once again, congratulations to our friends. You’ll know when you’ve found the right match. Go with your heart.

Much love, S x x

Staying in touch: highs and lows

So, in my previous blog post “A bittersweet occasion: The boy is ours” I promised that we’d maintain regular letterbox contact with our kids birth parents – let them know what wonderful men their kids were growing into. In return we agreed we’d share their letterbox contact with our kids. An opportunity to update them on their birth parents live’s. After all we’re never going to keep from them where they’ve come from, the journey they, and us, have gone on and the reasons behind it. When the time comes, if appropriate and if our kids wish to, we fully intend to support them to form relationships with their birth parents.

The problem is that we’re struggling to uphold this promise for boy 3.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re doing everything we can to try, and will continue to do so. We’re gutted though. In nearly 5 years of promised letter box contact from us we’ve not had one reply from boy 3’s birth parents. Not one letter, one card or even one bloody acknowledgement that they’re getting them. And it really fucks us off.

Maintaining contact with our two adopted kids birth parents couldn’t be polar opposites….the initial agreement was the same for both sets of parents. We agreed with them, face to face, and in agreement with social services, that we would maintain twice yearly letterbox contact with them; once after Christmas and once after the summer. They agreed to maintain the same level of letterbox. Letterbox is where we send a letter to the birth parents via social services. We update them on what’s been going on since the last contact, news, achievements, funny moments, sad moments. Anything that we think we’d want to know as parents. It is so important to us that we have done everything we can to maintain that vital link between them. We thought the birth parents thought the same too, would want to update their child on how they are, what they’ve been up to. To ask questions. After all, we need to maintain that link so that they’re not strangers….they’re part of each other’s make up, they’re history….probably their future. Part of their life. Who knows whether they’ll want to meet in the future? That’s not our decision. We’ll damn well make sure though, if they do, that they’ll know what’s happened in each other’s life over the previous years. Well at least from our end they will.

Sadly not both parents seem to see the importance of this and we find it really sad.

Boy two, our middle child but first adopted, gets regular letterbox contact from his birth parents….letters, cards, gifts….all which we share with him as promised. He loves it and talks openly about them…he can mention things he knows about them. As planned they’re not complete strangers.

Boy 3, our youngest and last adopted, gets nothing. As I mentioned before, in almost 5 years we’ve not had one reply to our regular contact. We’ve double checked with social services and they are definitely getting them. So why are they not fucking replying? It tears our hearts out to know that one son is getting regular contact and updates and our other is getting nothing. Zilch. Fuck all. What are we supposed to say to him? How do we shield him from the inevitable realisation that they appear to not be interested? Especially given the obvious contrast to his brothers experience?

Can’t they be bothered? Too busy? Have they moved on? Don’t care? To be honest we can only guess. And I really don’t want to be harsh or unkind. Maybe it’s the only way they can cope with their ‘loss’. To not think about things, not acknowledge it. Bury their heads in the sand. But even that is alien to us. As a parent our kids needs come first, theirs before ours. Even if it’s difficult for us, if it’s in their best interest, that’s what happens. After all, we’re parents. That’s what we do.

In the meantime however we have to plan to deal with the fallout. Protect boy 3 from the inevitable heartbreak. Dilute and distract as much as possible. Whatever we can to shield and absorb for him. That’s our job. That’s what loving someone so much is about.

We’re trying to work around things. We’ve managed to find a maternal grandparent that is desperate for contact…And who hasn’t received a single update from her own child regarding boy 3’s development…We’re currently working with social services to arrange this letterbox. Also he has a half sister who we visit and maintain contact with…she’s currently with an amazing foster family….so he will always know and love her.

Birth parents may not want or be able to maintain contact. But we will make damn well sure that boy 3 has the connections he needs to understand himself, his journey and to build relationships with his birth family if he desires in the future.

After all. We love him to the ends of the earth and his needs come first.

Much love, S xx

Parental anxiety: Even Superheroes suffer

I felt compelled to write this after reading a post by the talented and incredibly open actor Stephen Amell, aka The Arrow. In short, Stephen describes suffering a panic attack after being left behind on an ariel wire course. He says it left him physically trembling, weak, sweating and to the point of tears. Interestingly this has only started happening to Stephen following him becoming a parent…

…I completey get this. I too have felt this panic. Usually when I’m with my kids but not always. I am overjoyed to realise that one of my television heros isn’t immune from it too. Bloody hell! If the Arrow can be open about it so can I!

I suffer from what I have always named parental anxiety…I’m not a therapist and so don’t know the technical terms it’s just how I’ve rationalised things in my head. I’ve never sought help or advice as I manage things independently. It affects me daily and in various ways.

I wonder how many of you suffer from it too?

Ever since I have become a parent I have had regular moments of complete and utter irrational (or not) panic when it comes to my kids. It started when our eldest, Wil, was born. I would have to constantly check he was breathing…convinced he would suddenly stop. As the kids have grown up it’s continued. Things like they’ll be running ahead of me on the pavement, completely safe, and I’ll panic that they’re going to trip and fall into the path of an oncoming vehicle. Or they go for a sleep over and I panic that something may happen whilst they’re not with me. Sometimes they ask to go out on their own down to the village and my stomach churns that something will happen to them…My usually sensible self creates all sorts of monsters that are going to hurt or maim my children! Water, that’s a big one. If my kids are walking with me by water I have a constant, physical, state of fear that they’re going to fall in.

It also effects me in terms of my own safety…I became a nervous horse rider….developed a new fear of heights. And I don’t think it’s just a product of growing up. It’s a real fear of not being there for my kids.

I think it came to the surface for me really when we were on holiday in Portugal a couple of years ago. We visited an amazing castle and went up to the top of the castle wall to explore…to do so you had to climb a set of stone steps that were against the wall and completely open to one side….no hand rail or safety guard. I felt a mild panic when we went up..but as soon as we got to the top and the kids started exploring it developed into full blown panic. I started shaking, I felt dizzy and my legs were like jelly. My head was in turmoil and I had an overwhelming dread that the kids were going to plummet to their deaths right there and then. I managed to take some deep breaths, had a very strong word with myself and somehow managed to pull myself together…but it was so strong and so real. I called the kids to me and I let them explore but with a firm element of controlling their movement. I honestly thought we were not going to get off the castle wall though. Trying to get down the same stairs we’d just walked up was a bloody nightmare. We got to the top and the kids were all set to merrily trot down them, but whenever I tried to start the descent I turned to jelly again. In the end I made the kids sit on their bums and together we shuffled down.. one humiliating step at a time.

This was the point for me that I realised I needed to get a grip or I would really start affecting the kids.

I had an amazing childhood filled with care free dangers that no-one stopped me from experiencing or learning from. My parents got the balance spot on. Now I know that the dangers I fear now are very real and capable of happening.. which of course is the issue…but it’s managing the irrational fear of something happening, when it’s incredibly unlikely, that I am constantly struggling with.

I don’t want to be that parent that can’t let my children run free. To let them learn from life as I was able to. I don’t want to stop them being kids. I won’t to wrap them up in the proverbial cotton wall…and I never for one second thought I would be that type of parent. But the fear is so real, so strong, and it takes all my will power not to let that take over.

Usually I’m able to rationalise things and let them get on with what they’re doing, but occasionally the anxiety is too much and I have to call them back to me. The fear is too powerful. My head is saying they’re fine, safe, let them run and learn…but I can’t always fight that fear. What if they do trip, what if they get shoved out in front of a car accidentally, what if they get hurt? Not healthy right?! But I’m guessing I’m not the only one? Do you experience it too?

For me I think it boils down to a control issue. If I can’t control what my children are doing then something bad will happen to them. But I will NOT be that person. I believe that I have found the right balance between arming our children to be able to manage and reduce risks rather than avoiding them. I do allow them exposure to all sorts of risks to learn and grow but have also provided tools to reduce it. My fears will not be my children’s weakness. They are mine to manage, to own and to control.

I realise from speaking to people about this that it is entirely normal and most people have varying levels of the same thing. I never realised however that it would be such a life-long confliction of head over heart!! Love bloody hurts Sometimes!!

Much love, S x x

Parenting: making it up as you go….


Parenting’s a funny thing. Never before have I experienced anything that’s such a roller coaster of emotions.  Seriously!

I’ve been a daddy for over six years now. In that time I’ve felt a complete catalogue of emotions; fear, love, joy, pain, anger, hurt, laughter, pride, embarrassment, amazement, foolishness…. lots of foolishness. The list really is endless. What keeps me sane though, apart from the kisses and the cuddles and the giggles from our three beautiful boys of course,  is the fact that we are not alone. It’s not only us who’s trying to look as graceful as possible , when in reality we’re a stumbling along blindly.

When we first became parents we felt a self imposed need to prove we could do it. As gay dad’s, and as individuals,  we wanted to show that we could do it as well as the next person. We could raise happy, healthy, contented children.

And that’s kind of what we’re doing. Just not without a few blips and a crisis or two along the way!

What I’ve come to realise however.  Is that It doesn’t matter. Gay, straight, black, blue, male, female, single or not. None of us can get it right all of the time. Nor should we.

Parenting is a messy business. Getting things wrong is a part of life; good parenting is picking things up and letting yourself and your children learn from the experience.  Great parenting is doing this when your covered in vomit and poo and still finding the ability to laugh along with your child at the whole thing…..when all you really want to do is cry into a large glass of red!

In preparation for being parents we read all the books in the world offering tips and routines on raising children. We sought advice from anyone and anywhere we could….all of which is stored in our parenting tool box to use along the way. But the truth is; no one has all the answers. Though some may think they do.

The reality is we’re all just making it up as we go along.  That’s ok though. Really it is. If you’ve been feeling the same, nows the time to take a deep breath and tell yourself “it’s ok if I cock up.” It doesn’t make you a bad person. It certainly doesn’t make you a bad parent. Quite the opposite.

We’re all trying our best and at the end of the day that’s what really matters.  I think what make truly deserving and successful parents are the one that are willing to try. And keep trying even when the going gets tough and it feels like you’re getting it wrong.

At the end of the day there’s no such thing as perfect parenting. It’s a messy, unpredictable chaos that pitches you from highs to lows in the beat of a heart.

But it’s SO worth it don’t you think? XxX

A father’s struggle: mystery illness

Now that it’s published on gayswithkids.com I can share my latest article. For the published article (and to see the video) please visit https://gayswithkids.com/frightening-symptoms-little-sons-mysterious-disease/ It all started last summer. We’d had a perfect family summer holiday in Hunstanton, Norfolk. A beach from my childhood, a trip down memory lane and a great catch up with my big sister Lorraine. Such a great holiday; little were we to know it would be a prelude to our son Louis getting ill. We got back home from holiday and a week or so later were seeing to our horses with all of our children; Wil (5), Louis (3) and Connor (2). Out of nowhere Louis started to fall over. He was giggling maniacally when he did it – so much so that I got cross with him thinking he was fooling around.  It really looked like he was just mucking about. His legs would buckle and spasm and he would fall to the floor. When he did manage to drag himself up he would stagger around like a drunkard before falling to the floor again, all the time smiling  It was only after a few sharp words and a near miss with some barbed wire and the water trough didn’t stop him that I started to worry. We picked him up time and time again, but he kept falling down. It just didn’t seem to bother him that much.  I took a video – just in case we needed to show it to anyone, it was so odd. Louis picked up a bit when we got home and after he’d had a bit of a sleep. When he got up he was still a bit wobbly and didn’t seem himself, but not wanting to worry unduly we decided to wait, watch and see.  Still worried I posted the video online to see if anyone had experienced anything similar.  Now when I look back at the video I’m cross that we didn’t do something sooner – it seems so much worse than I remember – we were just so undecided on what to do for the best. We had loads of responses to the clip. The most common thought was an inner ear condition. I wasn’t so sure. The next morning Louis was a bit better, but still wobbly and not quite right. I received a message from a friend who is a nurse. The friend had kindly shown the clip to a paediatric Dr who said to get Louis into hospital immediately.  I rang my husband Ivan in tears. Why hadn’t we taken him straight in? What if our delay had made things worse?  I was so scared. We took Louis straight to the emergency department without delay. The Dr there was clearly concerned and he was admitted straight away to the children’s ward for investigation. By this stage Louis couldn’t walk in a straight line. His speech was slurred and he was starting to drool. His right eye was wandering and his fine motor skill was off. We were terrified. We couldn’t lose him, but it felt like that was a very real possibility. The Dr’s explained that the wobbling that Louis was suffering from was called Ataxia and that it could be caused by a number of things. The most obvious being a brain tumour. Louis was rushed in for a brain scan while we waited nervously. Thankfully the results came back clear. The following week saw Louis having test after test. He had a lumbar puncture to check for meningitis and related conditions – all came back clear. He had numerous blood tests to check for various conditions and illnesses, all of which came back clear. They put Louis on IV antibiotics and anti-virals as a precaution. He has been left with an intense fear of needles. Slowly Louis’ symptoms stabilised. He wasn’t the same as he was before, but he wasn’t displaying the same dramatic symptoms that he was when he was admitted to hospital. His walking was steadier and his eye had settled. His speech continued to be slurred and his gross motor skills were off. It’s hard to put into words but, whilst he was still the Louis that we love beyond words, he was a shell of the boy he was prior to the incident that hospitalised him. I mean he played and giggled like he did before, but there was a delay and a vacancy that wasn’t there before.  We felt utterly helpless. As his parents we wanted to be able to kiss it all better as you would a scuffed knee. It just wasn’t possible. It felt like we were failing him. After a week or so of tests, all immediately life threatening conditions were ruled out. It was a big relief. But we still had no answers. However, they let him home. It was great to be back too. The family back together as it should be. We’d each kept a vigil at hospital. One with Louis and the other taking it in turns to spend time with our other kids who were staying with family. Having Louis home we managed to get back to some sort of normality. We had a long journey ahead of us however. All of the obvious things had been ruled out, but we still desperately needed to find out what was going on.  Louis was referred to a top paediatric neurologist who repeated all of the tests and carried out more. We now know plenty of what isn’t wrong with Louis and so are hopefully narrowing down what it might be. It’s coming up to 8 months of investigation now. At present we’re waiting for the results of various genetic tests that they are carrying out to see whether they reap any results.  As Louis is adopted it makes things a little bit more complicated. We have a rough family medical history, but it’s not as involved as we’d like it to be. Both birth dad and birth mum were asked for consent to check their medical records. His birth Dad has agreed,  but birth Mum hasn’t. The tests they are currently doing are for some pretty horrible things. Things we don’t really want to consider, but have to. Most of these are degenerative conditions that just seem so unfair. Some of them aren’t however. Sure, they’re still serious, but not deadly. Whatever happens we’ll get by day to day as we always do. Louis has clearly gone backward from where he was prior to the incident in the summer. He’s still our gorgeous little man with the cheeky smile, the glint in his eye and the oh so fiery temper! He goes to pre-school now and his vocabulary is expanding and he’s a bright little lad. Daily though we deal with his wobbles. Some days minor, others he can’t stand or walk more than a few feet without falling and he’s always banging into things. His speech is slurred and he drools on and off. It wrenches my heart when I see him struggling to stab his food with his fork due to his wavering fine motor skills, but we let him keep trying to maintain his independence. There are days where he’s so alert and bright that you can’t imagine there’s anything the matter. Then there are others where he’s dull and vacant, a shell.  There’s no obvious pattern to any of it. We’re lucky to have some great support – not just family and friends who were their usual amazing selves  –  but the medical professionals who have been really amazing. They’ve assessed him and supplied equipment to help. We’re in talks with the best way to transition him to school and the Dr’s continue to strive to find us a diagnosis. In the meantime we’ll stay strong as a family. We’ll deal with the ups and downs and carry on regardless, as is the only way.  We’ll continue to hope and pray for a positive outcome. He is and always will be our ginger ninja.  He is the lad who never lets it bother him and just picks himself up time and again. We’ve learnt a lot from him. We have learnt a lot about us. If we had any doubts, it’s proven that we are family. We are strong.  Together we’ll deal with whatever comes our way. We love you Louis. Wobbles and all. DSC_0119_20140603093132731

Dolce & Gabbana gate: families matter

We were contacted by The Sun newspaper today to ask whether we had an opinion over the whole D&G thing – whereby they flippantly claim that “The only family is the traditional one” in an interview with Italy’s Panorama magazine. They go on to say “We oppose gay adoption….no chemical off springs and rented uterus. Life has a natural flow there are things that should not be changed.” Dolce adds “You are born to a mother and father – or at least you should be. I call children of chemistry, synthetic children. Uteri for rent, semen chosen from a catalogue…”  Gabbana states “Family is not a fad…”

Do we have an opinion? Too right we have an opinion!  We work bloody hard, every day, proving to people that we’re exactly that. A ‘normal’ family.  So when people of such influence so carelessly and publically share their somewhat limited and unpalatable personal views, with apparent disregard to the damage and offence they are, without doubt, going to cause it really does piss me off a little.  Just as it seems society takes a step forward, who are they to risk causing it to take a step back? Who the hell do they think they are?!  Ironically, as both gay adopters and having had a child through surrogacy D&G have managed to doubly offend us!

We started our journey into fatherhood with thought and consideration. We knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together – and we knew that we wanted to share that with our children.  We knew that we had a lot to offer a child. Sure we weren’t perfect – chances are we weren’t going to get it right every time. But we were willing to give it a bloody good go.  After all, what does a child need. To us it was simple; they need opportunities to learn and grow. they need to be kept safe, but learn how to take risks. They need to be fed and cared for physically and emotionally. They need someone to pick them up when they fall and to kiss away their tears. They need someone to love them unconditionally and to have someone whom they can love back. They needed us.  What part of that dictates that it is a mother and a father who can provide that? Or a father and a father or mother and mother or any combination or singular that you can suggest. All it takes is someone that is doing it for the right reasons to the best of their abilities.

We started our family back in 2009 through surrogacy. There was nothing forced or contrived about it. It was a natural extension of our love for each other, my sisters love for us and her knowledge, as a mother herself, that we would make great parents. It certainly wasn’t born of some fad or fanciful idea. I ask you D&G. Would it have been better if we’d fallen drunkenly pregnant without thought or consideration of the consequences? Or decided to have a child for the financial or material gain as some seem to do? Or perhaps you’d rather we’d had a child to use as a pawn in a bigger game? That seems quite ‘normal’ to some.  No thanks. We’ll stick to doing things our way.

Having successfully started our family we wanted more. Not only were we proving to ourselves that we could do this parent thing, we were actually quite good at it! Wil was thriving under our love and care.  We decided to expand our family – this time we chose to adopt. We considered surrogacy again, but ultimately decided that we wanted to offer a home to a child that was already out there – that through no fault of their own needed the secure, loving home that we could offer them. Ironically a child that may need a home due to the actions of its ‘traditional’ birth parents – perhaps a mother and father who had made some poor decisions in life that put that child at risk. Wasn’t the case for us in reality, but even so. Who cares. In reality it didn’t make a difference – we wanted to offer that child the home that, for whatever reason, its birth parents could not offer. And that’s the point. We could. Sure, it might not be ‘traditional’ but who gives a fuck! What’s traditional anyway – no two families are the same – nor should they be. Life moves on. Things change. People adapt. Except apparently D&G who choose to demonstrate their archaic and limiting views so publically. We are family. We are our children’s world and they are ours. It doesn’t matter one iota how we created that family – what matters is that we continue to strive to always be the best parents we can.

So what’s my opinion?  My opinion is that D&G can keep their thoughts to themselves – they’re perfectly entitled to think what they like of course, just don’t trash us and all the others like us in the process. I really am annoyed at them and feel stupidly let down by them – people I don’t even know. Without a doubt they have caused some damage with their recklessness. Drawn a bit of bad-light on the situation of ‘gay’ parenting. But you know what – it won’t last. It’s really only the haters that listen anyway – one’s that want backing to their thoughts no matter how ridiculous – and I genuinely think they’ve done more damage to themselves than to the future of gay people parenting children.

So while D&G are busy picking through the ashes of their spring collection, myself and my husband, with our three wonderful children – who are doing rather well despite their upbringing – will be out there showing the people who matter that we are a normal family. Proving to the old couple in the supermarket, the parents and teachers at school, medical professionals, friends, family…..most of whom need no proof at all because when they see us all they already really see is just another normal family. Dribble and all.

So up yours D&G. We are family and family is what matters.DSC_0098_20140517163154278

Mothers day twist: Pugs and kisses


“Yes Wil”

“You know mothers day?”


“Can I send Aunty Lorna a card?”

“Of course you can Wil”

Now that might seem like a strange conversation to some…unless of course you’ve been following our story and then you’ll realise it’s not quite as odd as it seems.  You see our son Wil’s Aunty Lorna is actually his birth mother.

Being gay, my husband Ivan and I can’t have kids the usual way. I mean don’t get me wrong. We’ve tried and tried, but never quite succeeded….and that’s where my sister Lorna, AKA ‘our angel from above’, stepped in. Oh that sounds wrong on so many levels! But it’s not. Back in 2008 she offered to act as a surrogate for us. Wil was subsequently born in 2009 and the rest, as they say, is history.

Lorna never wanted more kids. She has two beautiful daughters of he own (they’d better thank me for saying that) and that was enough for her.  Lorna didn’t want any more of her own children, but she did want one for us! Completely selflessly Lorna was willing to go through god knows what to enable us to have a child. If that doesn’t make her an angel I don’t know what does. It certainly went some way to making up for how mean she was to me when we were little!!

When we started talking about the why’s and where fore’s one of the main discussion points was how we approached the situation around him knowing how he was created.  As I said, Lorna didn’t want another child of her own – as far as she was concerned he was going to be her nephew and she his Aunty. We were all comfortable with this. If it felt right for Lorna it felt right for us.  And that’s how it’s always been – Wil is just another of her many nephews. But we were never going to deceive him. We were adamant, and Lorna was in agreement, that Wil would always know where he came from and how he was made – age appropriately of course. Should Wil wish to identify Lorna as his Mum we would have to accept this. And, should it come to it, Lorna would have to accept that Wil may wish to identify as her child and she would have to have her door open to this possibility. Despite not wanting more kids. Of course she shared this view too.

I recently wrote a blog about the birth parents of our other children, who are adopted. I wrote about the support that  we would offer them, when the time came, if indeed it did, when they wanted to meet and form relationships with them. It was much the same with Wil and Aunty Lorna.

We can’t, won’t, never shall deny who she is or where he has come from. It’s part of his history. Part of what makes him Wil.

Wil knows her as Aunty Lorna – but is well aware that she’s his Tummy Mummy – that she carried him as a special gift to us….a baby that we wanted so much but couldn’t create without the amazing gift from Aunty Lorna.

Naturally we want to be the only ones that matter to him as parents, as with all of our children we want to be the ones that they need above all others. But I can’t deny, there’s always been a bit of a niggle at the back of my mind – that their relationship could overtake ours…insecurities slipping in. Then I kick myself and realise that it’s not something that I need worry about. Our children, each of them, know that they are our world. We love them above all else and nothing will come between that.  Part of that love though is accepting that we have a duty to encourage them to know where they have come from, even if that’s a little bit scary sometimes.  That’s my problem, not theirs. If it means that they form healthy relationships with significant others then I just need to suck it up and be confident in their love for us.

As kids have a habit of doing, Wil kind of simplified things for me.  I asked him if he wanted to make a special ‘Tummy Mummy’ card and he said no.  Just an ordinary mothers day card will be fine.  To him it’s a no-brainer. Let’s not complicate things. You’re my Dad’s. I’m lucky to have two Dads. Aunty Lorna’s my mother. It’s a simple fact.  It doesn’t matter to him how this happened or the why’s or where fore’s. He’s just content in the fact that he has two (great!) Dads and a lovely mother Aunty Lorna.

He astounds me all the time in his maturity and openness to life.  Wil I am so proud of you, we’re proud of you. I’m proud to call myself your Dad.  We must be doing something right.

So Wil, let me join you in wishing your wonderful Aunty Lorna a truly brilliant happy mothers day!  Thanks Lorna. Love you.


Work, rest or play?

Kids wheelbarrow

Following on from being published on the Gays with kids website, please find my latest blog on the decision to go back to work or not….

It came to the point recently when the adoption leave pay I was getting from the police came to an end. We were now broke!

The trouble was, I really wasn’t ready to go back to work. It wasn’t the role. I LOVE and miss being a police officer. I had just become too used to being a stay-at-home Dad.

My husband and I now have 3 children.  Wil (5), Louis (3) and Connor (2).  I adore the time I get to spend with them. The days are busy and full. Wil’s at school all day. Louis’ at pre-school for half a day and Connor and I get to spend the day together, when he’s not napping. I usually get to enjoy one to one time with each of them throughout the day and somehow manage to fit in the rest of the day to day bits and pieces. I’ve become a whizz at cramming 4 hours worth of cleaning and laundry into a 40 minute window. Don’t tell me any stay at home parent doesn’t have new and impressive time-management skills to add to their resume!

The problem was I didn’t want to change the routine and life I had become so accustomed to. Asides from this we really couldn’t see how we could manage with both of us working shifts – my husband’s still a full-time police officer and policing hours really don’t match the hours your average childcare provider offers.  Also, rightly or wrongly, we really didn’t want to put our kids into childcare just so I could go back to work. That’s not why we had them. Now I know it’s not for everyone, but I want to spend as much time being with my kids throughout the day as I can. I couldn’t bear the thought of breakfast clubs and after-school clubs and a quick hour’s play before bed – no disrespect to those parents for who that’s a choice or those for who it’s a necessity – it just wasn’t for me.  I wanted to do everything I could to avoid going back just yet.

We’ve scrimped and budgeted everything we can off our bills. We’ve developed money saving meal plans. We’ve accepted any offer of hand-me-down clothes that have come our way. We tried anything to save a few pounds. Sadly, it wasn’t enough. We quickly came to the sad realisation that we just couldn’t afford it! Sometimes reality sucks!

Shortly after, I managed to secure a job which is incredibly flexible, though completely un-police related. The new role means that I can take the hours that suit us, our life, and my husband’s hours and more importantly, the kids. I can earn enough to cover the shortfall we had and pay for a few extras. It’s also meant that we have avoided the need for childcare.

To my surprise, I love it! I love the change of scene, talking to adults, and the using my mind for something other than ABC. Sure I miss the kids – though luckily I still maintain the bulk of the time with them, and wouldn’t want it any other way. I also realise that me wanting to stay at home all the time was more about me than them.

And you know. The look of joy on their faces when I come home from work after not seeing them for a few hours, more than makes it worthwhile! I will return to the police, but right now I’m taking a career break. Now’s not about me. It’s about us. Us and our little family.

Link to original blog https://gayswithkids.com/back-work-stay-home/

Steve PONDER-SIGSTON (10/01/2015)