The Black Adoption Project – creating better futures for Black adopted children in London

Being Different

8th April 2021 Blog

I’m a single adopter with one son, so one of the good things about the lock down was having quality time together. Having taken 9 months off work meant I could give my son a lot of one-to-one attention. We went for bike rides, played loads, I taught him to read & write, we cooked together, had regular film nights, I attended courses of an evening, I even created a short version of my son’s life story book which we read through and explored from time to time.

Then one day, out of the blue, (as children do), my son asked, ‘did Nanny adopt you?’ I said, ‘no’. I explained that Nanny is my birth mum but I felt a wave of sadness for him, not having the same story as me. A couple of weeks after that he said he wishes he was in my tummy and I agreed and followed it with, at least we found each other and have each other now. He agreed, we had a big hug and nothing more on the matter was said on that day.

My sister-in-law then told me a little while after that that he’d asked her if his cousin had two mums. She told him she didn’t have two, just her.

We’ve had conversations about families being different from a young age and I know they’ve covered it at nursery & nursery school. He’s also aware of lots of TV characters that are adopted, (his favorite being Stewart Little) but I thought I needed to tell him someone (that he knows and sees regularly), that is adopted so he does not feel left out or different.

I don’t want my son to feel being adopted is a dirty secret but at the same time he needs to know it’s personal information (his private business) that should only be shared with our friends and family. Quite a bit for a four year old to understand and take on board really…so with the thought niggling away at the back of my mind that there is the possibility he might tell someone, it had to be a family that was open about their child/ren being adopted.

I contacted the dad of an adopted boy in my son’s class at school to ask if I could share that he too was adopted. He was perfectly fine with it and suggested playdates as soon as we were able.

It just so happened that we saw them in the park a few days later; perfect timing! The ice cream van was nearby so we locked up our bikes and had a chat over ice-creams.

Me: Do you know that Billy has two dads?
Son: Yes, I know that!
Me: Did you know that he’s adopted?
Son: Is it because he’s brown?
Me: No, because his birth parents were unable to look after him and keep him safe.
Son: Like my birth mum and dad?
Me: Yes, I suppose so.

We chatted for a little while then he changed the subject. This is always my cue to know the conversation is over.

We’ve met Billy and his family in the park a few times since then, but they’ve been placed in different classes in school now, so I have to make a conscious effort to keep up the friendship so my son knows he’s not the only one.

When he’s older and more aware of certain matters being private business I can tell him that many of his friends and people we know (from the groups we go to) are adopted. We have now moved onto, ‘When can I meet my Birth-Dad?!’

Next: Reflection on being a gay adoptive dad

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