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

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Mothers day twist: Pugs and kisses

“Daddy”

“Yes Wil”

“You know mothers day?”

“Yup”

“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.

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The adoption agency tells us ‘No!’

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First I must apologise. My last blog on wanting more children left you on a bit of a cliff hanger. I never meant to leave it so long before writing this follow up. Sorry!
The thing is, we were turned down by the adoption agency initially. Not quite the words they used, but that was how it felt. It wasn’t exactly a no, more of a not yet. For us though,  it was still a not soon enough.
After we’d attended the adoption agencys’ information evening and signed to say yes! We want to adopt! We were assigned a social worker to complete an initial report on us.
We received a call from a lady from the adoption agency a few weeks later. She made an appointment to come and visit us at our home. As is my usual style, as the day approached I was nervous and fretting. What would she be like? What would she ask? Would she like us? What if I buggered it all up?!
We spent hours cleaning the house from top to bottom. Ivan baked cakes. I washed the dogs. It was more like we were trying to sell the house. In a way though, I guess we were trying to sell ourselves.
The evening she was due arrived in a haze of nervous excitement. This was the first real step to expanding our family. All we had to do was get this meeting out of the way and our journey would begin it’s next exciting leg. Or so we thought.
At the alloted time a formidable looking lady arrived at our home. I immediately felt like I was about to be interviewed by a governess. As is the true social services approach, we were grilled for hours. At least that’s how it felt.  We revealed all; who we were. Where we’re from. Our families, friends, loved ones. Our relationship history. What we were like as a couple. Where we lived, our neighbours, local amenities. Wil. The list went on. Once she’d exhausted us with her questioning, the social worker left.

Her parting words were “I’ll be recommending you wait for 18 months”. Shit! So much for the next leg of our journey. It felt like we’d been yanked back to the real world by the elastic on our breeches, like daydreaming schoolboys.

Of course she discussed the reasons for her decision with us. If I’m honest, it didn’t really sink in though.

We were devastated. We’d truly thought this was the start of the journey and that we’d be going full steam ahead. It felt like our dream was being taken away from us.
Her reasons were sound. Wil was only 6 months old at the time, they like an age gap of 2 years. Also she felt by waiting it would add longevity to our relationship, we’d been together for about 2 years at the time.
We were gutted though. The visit left us feeling like she had disapproved of us, as a couple, as people, as parents. Not from anything she said, just a feeling we’d got. In reality I know she was just doing her job, but we felt dismissed. Like she hadn’t given us a chance. We really felt we were ready. We knew we could make it work. Why couldn’t she see that? I realise that they have to go on policy, experience and learning from past situations and best practice. It just felt so wrong. We were a loving couple, already demonstrating we could raise a child – and there were so many children trapped in the care system it felt unethical, wrong, insane to wait. We also knew what a long process it could be, surely we should get the ball rolling, not wait 18 months?!
A week or so later we received the full report. Along with the formal recommendation that we wait for 18 months. As gutted as we were, the report was incredibly complimentary and a stark contrast to the impression she had left us with. It spoke about our qualities as a couple. Our beautiful home. The great job we were doing with Wil. Whilst it didn’t change our mind that we wanted more kids….and we wanted them now! It did make us appreciate that the decision wasn’t based on any form of disaproval, but instead on the social workers experience and best judgement.
Still, I wasn’t giving up. 18 months was such a long time to wait…