Adoption joy for Notts gay dads
As Notts couple Adrian and Marc Morgan get used to their new life as "daddy" and "pappa" after adopting toddler son William, they talk to OONAGH ROBINSON about their perfect little family
ADRIAN Morgan remembers with fondness the “beautiful moment” he and husband Marc first met the little boy who would become their son in May last year.
The anxious couple had been liaising with social workers at Notts County Council for several months about adopting baby William, then ten-months-old, and as they walked into the foster home, they were uncertain how the meeting would go.
But they needn’t have worried.
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“He was at the early stages of crawling,” Adrian explains. “And as we opened the door, he crawled straight up and put his arms up and Marc held him in his arms – he was quite happy to stay there for some time.
“He’d seen our photos by then and the foster carer who had been looking after him had been telling him all about us, even though he was very young. But he recognised our faces and knew that this was safe and OK for him – it was a really beautiful moment.”
Adrian, 32, and Marc, 40, have been together nine years and had a civil partnership in 2009.
The couple, who live in Rushcliffe borough, discussed the possibility of adoption several times after their marriage before finally making the decision to phone Notts County Council.
They admit they did have some concerns about the reaction they would get.
Adrian explains: “We kind of thought there may be some sort of hostile reaction, but we were very much of the opinion that if we did receive anything like that, we would challenge it. We knew it would be ludicrous in this day and age for people to have a negative reaction or to put us off just because we were gay.
“We were ready to fight it if we had to.
“But it was more like worries about being suitable in terms of our lifestyle and our house. It was about us being parents, not about us being gay.”
Adrian, who works for Unison, and Marc, who is in HR with Hewlett Packard, felt they were in a good financial position and had recently moved into a larger house.
“We started thinking about the extra bedrooms and all the space we had,” Marc says. “We thought wouldn’t it be lovely to fill this with children and hear all those lovely sounds coming from all over?”
After making that initial enquiry, they were contacted by a social worker at the county council who gave a brief outline of what was involved. Adrian admits it was a real joy to hear how positive he sounded about the idea of the couple being approved for the process.
“It was incredible,” he recalls. “He was so warm and positive and lovely about his view of our chances. But at the same time he didn’t leave us in any doubt that it would be difficult and that children coming from care sometimes have more challenging backgrounds.
“But he was so welcoming and came to see us and answered all the silly questions and the myths that we had about adoption.
“He educated us so much about the process. We had a very naive view that you’d get a newborn baby and the mother would be in prison and all that nonsense – these were very antiquated views and he very quickly guided us through the realities.”
The process of getting approved by the county council was fairly lengthy – it took 18 months from that first phone call to the day William was placed with the Morgans.
The couple also took advantage of a number of training courses that are routinely offered to anyone seeking to adopt, covering various aspects of childcare, development and psychology. They even had four days in a nursery setting as part of their training – and ended up volunteering there every Friday for seven months to give them as much experience as possible.
“We took advantage of every course going and absorbed every bit of info,” Marc says.
After a panel approved them as prospective adopters, social workers immediately began trying to find a suitable match until they got that fateful call in February last year.
The details were passed on and, as Marc explains, they couldn’t believe how perfect everything sounded.
“It was everything we could have hoped for and wanted,” he says. “It all suited us so perfectly.
“Even to the point where before our social worker told us the details, we’d had a long conversation about what we were going to name the child. My grandfather was called William and we loved that name so we decided that would be the one we used.
“And then our social worker rang and told us he had a child – and his name was William. We thought this is perfect – it was meant to be.”
William was seven months old when the couple were first told about him – and they were kept completely in the loop about his family background and time in foster care.
Adrian says: “We were so excited, we couldn’t wait to meet him and share the news with our own family and friends. We did the classic late stage of pregnancy thing of running round like idiots buying cot, pram, nursery stuff, toys and games and clothes. All that fun stuff.
“So it was February when we were first told about him and May when we actually met him. You have a have a week or so of introductions to make the transition easier. We spent that time just getting to know William, getting to know his routine and the structures he already had in place.
“So when he came home with us, even though he was very tiny, he recognised us as being his parents and carers straight away. We bonded very quickly and he was really happy to go with us and do things with us.”
As for that first memorable night when they took William home, Adrian and Marc experienced the whole gamut of emotions.
Says Adrian: “He was exhausted because there had been so much going on all day and he went to his cot at a normal bedtime. We had a baby monitor in his room and we sat listening to it all night. We didn’t get a wink of sleep all night and the following evening, we got rid of the baby monitor. Torture.”
Adrian took ten months off work to care for William in those early days as a family, while Marc was also able to take several weeks’ annual leave and paternity leave together so that he could be there too.
“So I’m now daddy and Marc is pappa, and it’s really, really good,” Adrian says. “The first six weeks, both of us found it really strange and different and we were a bit awkward about making decisions.
“It brought forth emotions that we’d never seen before in ourselves. There was a lot of anxiety, but we had the support of our parents and they were there for us to offer reassurance.
“I remember William was ill in those first six weeks, he had a bit of a cold. Of course, we just assumed we were killing him or something, we had no idea what was going on. I rang my mum and she rushed round and took one look at him and said ‘he’s fine, you’re doing fine’.
“We needed that a bit at first, just that guidance and reassurance was incredible. And then we just got into a natural rhythm and a natural routine of having him in our lives and him being the centre of everything.”
It’s also been a big change for both sets of grandparents, who are closely involved in William’s life. Now 20 months, he goes to nursery once a week while Adrian’s and Marc’s mums also help with childcare.
Adrian adds: “I have a younger sister and the thought was probably that she would have the first and only grandchild in my family so this has all been totally unexpected for everyone.
“But all the grandparents are really besotted with William. He can’t do anything wrong in their eyes, he’s perfect.”
As for negative reactions from other people, so far the Morgans haven’t had to deal with anything like that – indeed, at toddler groups and baby classes, they have been really welcomed and embraced as parents, says Adrian.
He adds: “In terms of bigotry or anything, no we’ve had absolutely nothing. We’d been expecting it a bit and we’re very good at challenging and responding in a positive and kind way without being nasty and mean – because we don’t think that’s healthy.
“But nobody has been like that, there’s been nothing that we’ve directly experienced so far. As for William, he’s growing up from such a young age with two dads, his situation is slightly different from what other people have for a family.
“We hope he’ll be a lot more resilient to people’s comments as he grows older and they won’t affect him as much as they would us, for example.
“We have other friends who’ve adopted, some same sex and some heterosexual and they all play happily together now – it’s normal to all of them.
“And we can’t imagine life without him.”
To find out more about fostering or adopting, call the county council’s recruitment teams on 0845 301 8899 (for fostering) or 0845 3012288 (for adoption) or visit www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/adoptionandfostering.