ARC adopters, Paddy and Lee, adopted their son, Jacob, back in 2019 when he was 5 years old. We caught up with Paddy to talk about his and Lee's experience of adopting, and why an older child was the right choice for their family.

Hello Paddy, thanks for talking to us today! Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself and Lee?

Lee and I are a same-sex couple who have been together for 9 years.  We were both working as Managers in Licenced Restaurants (Pub's) at the time of our adoption, but adoption is something that can change your life in more ways than one, and since adopting, both Lee and I have gone back to University! I am studying to become a Social Worker, and Lee is studying to become a Paramedic.

When did you know you were ready to adopt? Is it something you considered for a long time?

We had been talking about adopting for a long time before we decided to apply. We had decided that we wanted to, but always found an excuse as to why we shouldn't, there was always something to do first, or 'we'll talk about it properly later'.

Then I was in work one evening on my dinner break scrolling through social media, and a post was there advertising an information evening for adopting. It was clear that it was no obligation, and was simply an evening to get some information about adopting, so I rang Lee and we decided to pop along.

Even then it was nearly 6 months afterwards that we decided to officially express our interest. What eventually made us 'bite the bullet' was my friend's quite straight forward advice. We were talking about it to her one evening, when she told us, ‘Instead of talking about it, do it,’ and if we were waiting for the 'right time', we'd always be able to find an excuse why it wasn’t the 'right time'.

We understand that you wanted to adopt an older child rather than a baby? Did you have particular reasons for that?

Even before we started our adoption process, when we spent many years talking, we always said 'babies aren't for us.’ I also think after doing research and finding out how many 'older children' were waiting to be adopted, and how long they waited, if they ever were adopted, just solidified our feelings of adopting an older child. But it was mostly simply a feeling that we didn't really want a young baby, and accepting that this was how we felt, and that there was nothing wrong with that.

What would you say to others considering adopting an older child? Did you worry about early experiences or bonding / attachment?

I would say go for it! it's fantastic, and an experience and feeling that you simply cannot get anywhere or from anyone else. I know I'm probably biased, but I couldn't think of any better way to build an attachment than through play, talking, day trips out together, and really getting to know the child and their personality. To us, that beat holding a baby.

An ‘older child’ will be aware that their plan is to find a 'forever family' for them, and although they might have mixed emotions about this (which can be difficult, I won't shy away from that), they will want to get to know you, and become attached to you, just as much as you will want to build a strong bond with them.

Also, I would advise prospective adopters to take the term 'older child' with a pinch of salt. I think this term can sometimes frighten adopters into thinking of teenage and secondary school age children, which is not the case at all in our experience. Most 'older children' who are in the process of finding a family are very much of pre-school, and infants age, they are still learning about themselves, and the world around them, which is a fantastic time to raise children.

What has been the best thing(s) about adopting your son / becoming a parent?

The best thing about being a parent is just ‘family life.’ It's the simple things about just getting on with our day. Getting up in the morning and having breakfast together, before the mad dash to school, cheering Jacob on at sports days, or crying during the school Christmas performance (which really does happen, it's not just for movies). I think it's just the feeling that this is our little family. Simple things, but perfect in our own special way; just making our way through everyday life, together.

How have you found going through the adoption process and support from ARC?

We were actually referred to ARC from the Local Authority while waiting for the approval panel. All staff were fantastic, explaining what was going on and trying to help the best they could (in a situation that probably doesn't happen every day). We were nervous and anxious about what was happening and it was difficult to get our heads around. I rang ARC that many times, we joked about us having our very own dedicated hotline. All of the team were very understanding, and tried their very best to make the process as smooth as possible. and our Adoption Social Worker, Ayesha, was absolutely fantastic throughout the whole time, and we could not have asked for better support than Ayesha and the ARC family.

How did you meet Jacob?

There is a wealth of routes and ways to family finding, from online profiles to activities days, the resources are fantastic. After admitting that a few children were not the right match for us, we found Jacob on Linkmaker. He was not from the area and seemed to be a million miles away from us. When I saw his profile, there was a feeling of just knowing he was ours, however for Lee, he did not get the same feeling until we actually met him in person. Bonding, attachment, and feelings all come in different ways, and each person's journey and feelings are different, and I think it’s important to know that this is fine. Honesty about how you are feeling and any reservations you have at any time is key, as finding the right match for your family and the child is so important.

The support from our Social Worker, Ayesha, during the matching process was just out of this world, and we cannot thank her enough for everything she did for us during this time. From listening to endless phone calls from us, to travelling with us to what seemed like the 'end of the earth' to make our match happen.

Have you accessed any post adoption support?

We have taken part in a few day activities set up by ARC, and Jacob loves to come along to these activities. We have also taken advice, and looked for resources from ARC when support has been needed. They are always happy to help.

Would you recommend ARC as an agency to others considering adoption?

I have recommended ARC to lots of our friends and others considering adopting, and particularly within the LGBTQ+ community. I love to share our adoption journey, and the team at ARC are a huge part of that story. They are so welcoming, patient and reliable, with questions answered and support given without a second thought. Their passion for adoption, social justice for children and LGBTQ+ families shine through their everyday work and the values of the team.

If you are interested in adoption, or would like to find out more about the children waiting for families, we would love to talk to you. Click here to complete our enquiry form and one of our experienced team will be in touch at a time that best suits you.