The first non-binary person to adopt in the UK
Dylan shares their experiences of the adoption process and remembers their excitement when they first met their adopted child.
TRANSCRIPTD: Yup, so in, I think, sort of in the summer of 2017 my social worker told me about a child and they were, they said that they weren't able to tell me much information about the child yet because they weren't, they hadn't got all the paperwork because they weren't freed for adoption yet, but that this is what social workers were expecting so they had started to sort of family-find for this child. And from what I heard about this child I thought 'yes! This is exciting this would be a brilliant match' and so I submitted an expression of interest and my social worker submitted an expression of interest, and we were given some more information about the child. And the more information about the child that we were told it showed that the child is trans. And, yeah, it said that the child was gender-questioning.
And I have lately discovered that, yeah, this kid's definitely trans and that was so exciting to me because the difference... I can't, I can’t imagine how different the experience my kid would have had if they had been adopted by a cis person, or a cis couple, versus being adopted by a trans person. Yeah, the possibility for a trans child to be parented by a trans adopter is just perfect because I know that trans kids in care have really, really, really difficult experiences and I am so glad that I was able to protect my child from that.
So, yeah, I met with the child's social worker. I met with a bunch of staff from that child's, from the local authority, from my child's local authority, I met with their foster carer, I met with their, some teachers and staff from their school, I met with the doctor, I met with loads and loads of people, I had loads and loads of information, so many conversations about this child. I read through all of their paperwork and I was like 'Yeah, no, yeah definitely I can totally do this; this kid is the right kid for me'. And then, in November 2017, went to panel and the panel said: 'Yes! You are the right parent for this child!' [laughs]
RL: [laughing] and how did that feel?
D: I cried! [laughs loudly] Yeah, very overwhelming, very exciting, very, very emotionally intense. And also they were wanting to move really quickly. So I think it was panel was on a Thursday and introductions started on the Monday.
RL: So you hadn't met them before that?
D: Well, actually... So typically you don't meet the child until you are approved as their adopter. In this case, because my child was seven they decided that it would be a good idea to do some, what's called some 'bump-into' meetings, where you meet the kids just like in a park, or in the play-area of something, as just like a sort of ‘friend of the family’, ‘friend of the foster carer’, so I had met them and we'd had a very, very frenetic play-date in the park, but this was the first time that they were going to meet me knowing I was going to be their parent.
RL: OK. So what was it like when you first met them in the park then, if that was the first kind of bump-into meeting?
D: Oh, it was so exciting! I was so there! And I was with the social worker and I didn't, I was trying to, I was looking at all the exits, and all the entrances to the park, trying to work out if like if there was, like any child that I saw, is that them? Is that them? Is that them? But of course the second I saw them, even from maybe three hundred metres away, I was like that! That's them, I know, I recognise that child, because I'd seen some pictures, and I'd heard of so much about them. And they came bounding over and, yeah, we played football and chase and lots of kwame and lots of running and I was like ‘phew, fuckin' hell, I'll have to get really fit to parent this child’ [laughs] very, very, very, like, a hundred miles an hour, really exciting, really fun.
Yeah, they're so, they're so quick, they're, like, their body's quick, they're really fast and fit and sporty but they’re also their mind's really sharp, they're really, they're really bright and really quick and really funny. It was, it was pretty incredible.
RL: So what was it, what was it like when they were actually here with you? So, the, sorry, the proper first time when they realised it was you who was like adopting them?
D: So they... at panel... so before, so when you come, before you come to panel you have to give, you have to prepare a book for the child with photos of you and of your home and sort of telling them what to expect and I also made a CD of me singing lullabies and I made a little video introduction to me in our home and the school they were going to go to and the local library and the local park and I bought them a little teddy [chuckles] who featured in the book and the video.
And so I had prepared all these materials not knowing if definitely this was going to be my child and it would have been so heartbreaking if they hadn't, if they'd said no, but they said yes. And so I had given this to the social worker who then took it to the child, who took the book and the CD and the video and the teddy to the child and told them, told, told them about me.
And the foster carer sent me a picture and they'd, the child had, had my photo next to their bed [chuckles]. It must be very strange to have a photo of your parent looking down on you when you haven't actually met them properly. But yep.
RL: OK. So what was it like then when you, that first, then the meet up when I guess they were moving in?
D: Yeah, yeah, so the beginning introductions... Introductions are without compare! Like there is no other experience like adoption introductions because you go from not knowing each other to being the parent within a space of like two or three weeks and it is... yeah, so incredible though!
Like they were really excited that I was going to be their parent. I was really excited that I was going to get to parent this kid. And yeah, we played lots of games and we sort of read, they read stories to me and I read stories to them and we went to the park and the cinema and we had lots of like time together.
The foster carer was brilliant, she was really sort of really helpful, helping show me various routines and sort of like working through sort of like you know, what, how, how do they brush their teeth? What's their morning routine like? What are the foods they like to eat? Sort of trying to incorporate me as much as possible into their family life as it was then and then helping to introduce them to what our family life together here in Leeds was going to be like. You know, I took them to school for them to say goodbye to their old class mates and then we went and looked round the school that they were going to be moving to in Leeds. It's, yeah, just the most incredible time!