Adopting as a same sex couple - Kate and Liz's story


'We met at an adoption support group which we attended because we had each adopted a child with previous partners,' says Kate.

'After our relationships ended we started seeing each other and then lived together as a family of three with Liz’s little boy Aran while my son lived with my previous partner. We decided we wanted to adopt again and enquired with the council’s adoption team.

'Because it was more than three years since either of us had last adopted, we had to start the process again. That was good because our answers to the questions had changed because we had gained a lot of experience with our previous adoptions.

'The questions can be personal but we know that they aren’t without reason. Our social workers were so friendly and considerate: they’ve seen and heard it all.

'My previous relationship break up wasn’t amicable. As a result, my ex-partner unfortunately didn’t give me a great reference, which was a shame, but thankfully, our social worker knew how badly we wanted to be the loving parents of another child, so she fought for us.

'We adopted Sarah when she was 16 months old. She was born nine weeks premature at 4lb 2 oz. We knew she was a fighter. After showing us her picture our social worker set us up to see her. She crawled towards us to check us out and we fell in love.

'Sarah is six now and keeps us on our toes. She loves to play teacher and likes cartwheeling, drama and swimming.

'We know both of our children’s birth mums’ stories and have nothing but empathy for them. We took the decision to show each of our kids their adoption book when they were little to help them understand themselves and their adoption.'

Liz said, 'We showed Aran his book again when he was 11, this time with some more detail about his birth mum’s struggle with substances, and that  his dad couldn’t look after him because of his lifestyle but he did really want to have Aran.

'Aran had about a week of being upset, with ups and downs, but he was able to learn things about himself that he didn’t know. Aran hadn’t really considered his dad before but he really liked that.

'Aran has dealt with his adoption really well. He still enjoys seeing his foster parents and once a year he writes a letter to his tummy-mummy and she writes back.

'He came home one day really excited to tell us he had made two new friends, one who had been adopted and one who was in foster care. It’s a special little connection he has with them.

'Both our kids have additional needs which means life at home can be hectic. Aran is 13 now and is the more mellow one. There is never a taboo subject with him; he is very open which is great. He has a girlfriend and goes to see movies with friends.

'We know that we have to be quite particular in the way we explain things to him because he takes things very literally. He is interested in table tennis and skateboarding. He doesn’t like the craziness of the playground, he likes to go to the library with his friends at lunch. He is a bit of a geek but we love that about him!

'Sarah is a livewire. She is very funny and playful and spontaneous. To look at her you wouldn’t know she has additional needs but sometimes when she hits breaking point and can’t cope she does meltdown, and that’s where our knowledge and training comes in. We’ve recently started some new training with Sarah and have seen her progress.

'Getting a caravan is the best thing we’ve done. The kids know the layout of the caravan park and some of the families we go there with; they are familiar with the caravan itself so it feels like home and they feel safe there. They like open spaces so going to Devon for a little holiday is great.

'On the flipside of that, we can take them somewhere new like a wildlife park and Aran will be fine but it will be too overwhelming for Sarah and it upsets her. She would be happier in a local playground - you just have to be flexible.'

Talking about themselves as a gay couple Kate and Liz say, 'We are happy to be advocates for adoption and yes we are a same sex couple, but we aren’t for labels - there are just too many.

'We did a presentation to other prospective adopters which we loved. We have a lot of stories and experience to share - the more you know the better.

'After we did the presentation we were asked lots of questions. Many people want to know about the day to day things like ‘how is my life going to change?’ Finance was also a big one; how you can talk to your child about adoption and navigate their relationship with birth parents/ foster carers.

'Speaking to someone who has gone through it themselves can be very settling. If you want to adopt but are unsure because you feel you are lacking this understanding, ask your social workers if they can set something up with adopters.

'Since we did the presentation, we had adopters come to us and say we heard your story and it made us adopt. It was lovely to hear.

'We never have any problems being a same sex couple with adopted kids,' says Kate. 'I am a pastoral worker at a Catholic school. People know I’ve adopted and they know I’m gay and have a lot of experience relating to kids with additional needs. People come to me to ask questions, but it’s always positive.

'Some people might wonder how it affects your kids - we can only speak for our family but our kids never have any issues with having two mummies, either on a personal level or on the playground with other children.

'We want them to be proud of their family and love who they want to, but we do tell them, 'don’t feel you have to share personal things if you don’t want to'. Although we haven’t had any problems we do know that some kids can be mean.

'People will always have their opinions about one thing or another; it’s up to you if you listen to them.

'We love being a part of the adoption community. Our whole family enjoys the adoption meet-ups at Easter, summer and Christmas. 

'We are grateful for the support the adoption team have given us. The training we were given was great. We think everyone who wants to have a family should go on it! It prepares you for loads of stuff that everyone with kids will face.

'As things evolve and we feel we need to improve our knowledge the team help us to get the help we need.

'Currently we travel to Sheffield one day a week for Theraplay which are sessions designed to help your child build trust and connections through structured play with the parents. The team helped us with the paperwork back-and-forth to get the financial cost of the programme and travel and working arrangements sorted out.

'The adoption team feel like friends to us and it is just another person who can relate more closely to your story.

'As parents we make a good team. As any parent will know you do lots of research, find out all you can and try and help your child with all the love, time and patience you can.

'Despite this we have had lots of challenges because of our children’s additional needs but we wouldn’t change it for the world.

'Your struggles give you strength. It gives you wisdom and experience you can pass on to your kids.

'We are really proud of our kids and our family that we have created together.'