Max and Craig, who adopted two brothers aged 5 and 6, share their story to celebrate LGBT Adoption & Fostering Week.
I’m a primary school teacher and have taught a few children who have had horrendous home experiences and some who have been in care and always thought it would be nice to have children and give them a good home.
Our borough council placed advertisements on bus stops saying they were looking for gay and lesbian adoptive parents. They were obviously quite keen to attract gay couples and had children who needed parents.
It took about three years in total with an 18-month gap between approval and the children being placed. We had a really decent social worker. Although the process was slow, she stayed with our case the whole way through. Often they change jobs or move away, so it can be difficult.
We had some very probing and testing questions in the home study about our relationship, sex life and previous partners. They also asked how much we drink. Sometimes, it was more like a therapy session.
The boys we eventually adopted were living in the north of England so our introductions were concentrated into a two-week period, with us staying in a hotel. Before meeting the children, we were shown photographs of them and the forms detailing their life story. We also met their social worker and foster parents. The foster parents weren’t too sure about us adopting the children to start with, but they were fine once they met us and we explained how we would look after the children. We then met the children and it was a weird experience, walking in and thinking these could be your future children. It was very artificial.
To begin with, a lot of people seeing us at the school gates assumed we were two straight dads picking up our sons. It does intrigue kids and some of their friends have asked questions, which we answer honestly. I think the main tension any children experience is the difference between home culture and school culture. At home, being gay is fine and we talk about it quite openly, but at school, gay is used as a term of abuse.
I feared our children might reject us but they’ve never said anything negative to our faces and seem to have embraced being part of a gay family. I think they will grow up differently not having a female influence in the home but then lots of kids grow up without a male influence. Studies have shown that there isn’t any detrimental effect on children growing up in a gay family. I don’t think there is any more likelihood of them being gay or straight.
I used to think the world was divided between gay and straight and now I think it’s divided between those with kids and those without. I’ve realised how hard it is to be a parent. Having children puts a lot of pressure on your relationship and you have to face things you haven’t ever encountered before. It changes your relationship, particularly the amount of time you have for each other. There was one time when I felt like walking away but I realised that all the issues the children were bringing up were to do with me, they were provoking me but they were my issues. One of the things that struck me when we first had the children was how much time parents sacrifice for their children, standing around pushing a swing or waiting while they play in the park. But despite all the challenges, it is worth it. We would definitely recommend it.