Stephane and Simon had been living in inner London for 20 years when they began to tire of the "rat-race." They loved their lives, their friends, the opportunities that the city had given them, but felt it was time for something different, something more. Although the couple always wanted kids, it wasn't until 2013 when their priorities really started to shift and they began the adoption process. When their children's adoptions were finalized in 2016, it became clear: something had to give. After more than two decades of living in London, they decided to embark on a new life journey. They're currently spending 6 months in the French Alps before they resettle as a family in New Zealand.
This is how a Frenchman and a Kiwi traded in coming home at dawn three nights a week for the quieter life of fatherhood: a decision that has made them endlessly happier.
Stephane and Simon met 17 years ago in the now defunct gay bar "Popstarz" in London. Stephane is originally from France while Simon hails from New Zealand. When they met, they were both living and working in London and having the time of their lives. In Simon's blog, OuiAreFamily.com, he describes London as not just a city but as a companion with an intoxicating character. In 2013 they began the adoption process of their two children, a biological brother and sister, and this was when everything began to change. They now had two small people to care for.
"As soon as they walked in, our lives changed so drastically," said Simon. "We [started to] make decisions not solely based on our own interests, which sounds obvious but is more profound than we might have realized."
It took 18 arduous months for the adoption to be finalized but not because they were two men. Same-sex adoption has been legal in the UK since 2002.
"It was bureaucracy and the cogs of the system that caused delays," explained Simon. "That was the most frustrating part - as the children had been living with us for 18 months before we got the final adoption order in 2016. Until then they were still considered wards of the state, so by law we had to have regular home assessments by the authorities and social workers."
These home assessments began like any home study in the US would – with cake and coffee to the assessors. But by the end of the process, the assessors were just offered water. However, aside from the delays, Simon and Stephane were happy with the process and genuinely felt supported by the social workers, teachers and assessors.
"We never really felt like we had to prove anything other than we could and wanted to provide a good life for the children."
Stephane and Simon finalized the adoption of their children in 2016. And things seemed great, for a while.
But soon they realized it was time to move on. Once the decision was made, it kicked off a chain of events in quick succession: They quit their jobs, got married, and moved to the French Alps and enrolled their kids in a French school for the next 6 months before they finally relocate to New Zealand permanently in January 2018.
"We chose New Zealand not only because of the drastic lifestyle change, but mostly because of their fantastic record on LGBT rights, adoption and same-sex parenting."
The family of four are experiencing a complete lifestyle change. They've gone from the hustle and bustle of one of busiest cities in the world, to living in an 18th century farmhouse, with no neighbors in sight, no noise at night, and no wifi(!). (Gasp! How do they cope?) As Simon shared in his blog "Breaking Dad" he almost didn't cope, at least at first. But seeing their children's faces as they run amok in the countryside freedom, Simon and Stephane know they've made the right decision. Even if they are missing the latest season of "Stranger Things."
Follow this family on their adventures via Simon's blog - OuiAreFamily.com.