After Countless Rejections, Sean and Lee Bring Home Twins
Sean and Lee Chetwyn-Horan were introduced to one another through Lee's younger brother, Nathan, and were friends for 2 years before starting a relationship. They have been together 5 and a half years, and were married August 22, 2016. Sean, a civil servant, and Lee, a special needs teacher, live in Liverpool, U.K. with their two adopted children, Arlo and Cleo. We caught up with the dads to find out how they were enjoying fatherhood.
Tell us about your path to parenthood. Did you consider other options? We felt we didn't really have any other options when we realised just how many children were in the care system in the UK. Surrogacy was never an option for us due to the cost implications here in the UK.
Cleo and Arlo
What obstacles did you face on your path to fatherhood? We went through the adoption process for 9 months, which is standard regardless of orientation. However, it took the social services 20 months to place a child with us. We asked for feedback on why we were being pipped at the post by other adopters but we felt we weren't given credible, constructive feedback. This made us feel inadequate as gay adopters. We were told off the record that straight adopters were chosen over us on more than one occasion. As a couple, We made a complaint to the children's services manager and we were immediately invited to attend a meeting where our profile was reviewed. Within a few months of making the formal complaint about suspected unconscious bias/homophobia we were placed with our beautiful twins!
How has your life changed since you became a father? Life for us was good before we adopted. We both work full time and spent our spare time with our friends socialising and attending festivals. But we were ready for kids and had been for so long. I don't think you can really prepare for becoming a father and it was quite overwhelming at first. The first few weeks were challenging as we were adapting to the twins and their routines and their needs etc, and also getting used to the lifestyle change. But now, 5 months on, we feel like we have nailed it. Each day Arlo and Cleo are growing and learning and so are we with them. We still socialise with our friends but in different ways- mainly for breakfast and lunch instead of going to a bar or a club. We have even taken our twins to a few festivals already. We feel like our life has been given a new meaning since we adopted. We feel fulfilled and are so much happier than we were before- which we didn't think was possible as we were so happy before too.
What have you learned from your children since you became a dad? They have taught me that I can be a morning person! When I hear their little voices on the baby monitor of a morning, It's the best sound in the world and I now love getting up to see them. Every day gets more and more exciting!
Was there ever a moment that you or Lee experienced any serious doubts about your path to fatherhood or fatherhood itself? With the adoption/ matching process taking so long and with us facing so many rejections from children's social workers, we did feel we weren't good enough. After about a year we did discuss maybe leaving it and trying again in a few more years, possibly when attitudes towards same sex adopters have changed. However, we did continue to look and it paid off.
Is your family treated differently than others on account of your sexual orientation? Up to now (touch wood) we haven't experienced any prejudices. Everything we have experienced from strangers or on hospital visits, shopping etc has been positive. Even before we adopted, we were never faced with any animosity as a gay couple.
Where do you see your family 5-10 years in the future? I see us even bigger than now, with maybe a younger brother or sister for Arlo and Cleo, and possibly living abroad which is something Lee and I have discussed also. Canada specifically, where Lee has family.
What words of advice do you have for other gay men considering adoption? We have so many gay couples as friends who want to adopt but they are apprehensive because of they feel there is a stigma still attached to gay adopters. I advise them that they should pursue it and don't let their own preconceptions hold them back, like it almost did us.
Anything else you'd like to share? Only that until you have experienced it, there is now way to describe becoming a parent. To have two little babies depending on us for everything means the world to me and I feel like my life has a new meaning to it. It's the best feeling in the world!