To all the dads

Hello,

Apologies for taking so very long to post. It has been a slightly long time, but we have had a lot going on. Firstly, we moved. Finally got out of East Sussex and are now settled into Oxfordshire. Mike was head hunted for his dream job so off we went. It has been the best decision for us; it wasn’t that East Sussex wasn’t for us, and leaving friends and family behind us has been really difficult, but I think I can say with some certainty that we have found the place where we will settle down for the foreseeable future. Jake is incredibly happy in his new school, and I managed to find a fantastic job in the same town as Mike and just a field apart, so pretty perfect.

You will remember than it was well over a year ago that I asked Mike if he would like to adopt Jake. At the time, it seemed like a very straight forward process. Of course because it is us, it never got done. Not because he didn’t want, but because life got in the way. So we decided that as we were now fully settled, we would start the process again.

When I phoned the Oxfordshire council to give them the details they would need, I was told that it would be a relatively quick process because Mike and I have been together for so long, because Mike has been there from the word go, and because most importantly, Jake’s birth father has never EVER had anything to do with him and nor have his family.

We went to meet the social worker to be talked through the way step-parent adoption works and everything that would be needed. It turns out that the way step-parent adoption works is far more complicated than we first thought, and we are looking at something that will take at least a year to complete. More interesting is the way the law works for step-parent adoption, and the way in which it works with both the birth and step-father.

It feels weird to refer to Mike as the step-father, because as you well know, he is a dad. He has been a dad for six years, and he will be a dad till the day he dies. The law and the process that comes with step-parent adoption however see him somewhat differently.

Firstly, they will make it extremely clear that the courts see step-parent adoption as a last resort; they consider it a way of severing the child from the birth family and if they can find a way of ensuring that this doesn’t happen, they will do so. I find this incredibly odd regarding our personal situation, especially as Jake’s birth father has never had anything to do with him.

Secondly, you have to tell the birth father exactly what you are planning on doing. In fact, you have to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that you have done everything physically possible to get in touch with them and get their consent. Be aware though that if they don’t answer the social worker will give a final attempt and leave it; if the birth father contests the adoption, then they have to come to court and explain their reasons.

I’d like to point out that this was slightly shocking but the very least of our issues. We have been in touch with the birth father and he completely agreed within an hour of sending the message. This was slightly painful for me; not because I wasn’t aware that he absolutely didn’t care, but because it took him no time at all to make the decision.

The biggest shock for us was when the social worker informed us that they would not accept our application until we had told Jake. This they are extremely strict on. Please don’t get me wrong, we knew we would have to speak to him at some point to tell him. But we thought we had more time. On top of that, how on earth do you explain to a five year old about birth fathers and step parents and make it understandable?

Most importantly, how do you explain to a child that there is someone out there who doesn’t want him? I know what you’re going to say; that this isn’t what you’d say to him, that he has Mike who’s better than anyone, that he has a great family and he’s gained so much more and you know, make it suitable for a five year old to understand. But you are still having to explain that deep down, someone didn’t want him.

That’s the bit that I found hardest to stomach. Mike on the other hand came away feeling slightly like the last six years he’s spent as a parent haven’t technically counted. We understand that these laws and regulations have been put in place to protect the children and families who are in difficult situations and legal battles. However, our case is just incredibly clear.

Mike can tell you what it was like to feel Jake kick inside me.

He can tell you what the birth was like and how he got there and how it felt.

He can tell you what Jake looked like when he was born.

He can tell you about the first time he smiled/learnt to hold his head up/rolled over.

What it was like the first time he changed him and put his baby grow on the wrong way round.

He can talk about him crawling, walking, talking and his favourite laughs and giggles.

He could list his toys and the funniest moments we have had together with Jake.

He was there when we took our first family holiday.

And then there’s all the recent stuff; tackling Jake and girls this early on, taking him to school for his very first day, getting him into football, buying him his first Brighton kit and teaching him the offside rule.

There isn’t anything in this world that Mike couldn’t tell you, and in just one two hour session, he felt like this didn’t count. Because the birth father, even though his only connection is genetic, could walk in and demand to have some part in Jake’s life, if he chose to.

Again, I know. I know that we are fortunate because we have Mike and the birth father is not making things difficult for us. It was just a shock.

So. This message is to the dads. Whether you are related by genetics or not, if you are the man who can give the same information that Mike can give about Jake and more, then you are the definition of what it means to actually be a DAD. Thank you for working 24/7 365 days a year to raise beautiful, wonderful children and making mothers proud. You deserve all the recognition. Nothing should be going to the people that walked.

Raising children is never going to be easy, I will hold my hand up and admit that. But if it is something that you think you could easily walk away from, then you’re not a dad, you’re not even the birth father or worthy of the name of sperm donor. You are scum.

Keep up the good work dads, keep raising children the right way. You’re doing an amazing job.

xx

 

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