Tim and Darran met online in December 2015. They met for a drink on December 18, and by New Year's Eve they were "official." When the subject of becoming dads came up, they were both excited but at a loss as to where to start. In 2017, after deciding adoption was the right path for them, they began their journey and in the process, started a website to chronicle their experience and to help others who were considering same-sex adoption in the UK: Two Poofs and a Pudding. Fast forward 18 months, their "Pudding" is at home with his dads. Here's their experience with the UK adoption journey, so far.
Unlike in the United States where adoptions may occur through private agencies, child welfare programs or independently, the social service department of the local council completes most U.K. adoptions. Some U.K. councils use a charity such as Barnardos to run their service.
In October 2017, Tim and Darran emailed their local council, Essex County Council, and asked for an Adoption Pack. The following month, they attended an adoption information open day at the council office. "The nerves were rife when we entered the room," shared Darran, via their blog. "We were roughly in the company of 10 couples, three being same-sex." After the presentation, they sat down with a social worker for a conversation. They asked questions, the social worker asked questions of them, and the dads-to-be came away excited, knowing they were beginning their journey and had made the right choice to pursue adoption. They followed up by completing a register of interest form and sent it to the adoption team at Essex County Council. On January 17, 2018, they received an email informing the couple that their form had been processed, and they would be receiving a Stage One Pack in the post shortly.
"Stage One starts… And boy does it flow thick and fast from now on."
As part of Stage One, Tim and Darran had to complete a 52-page workbook which looked extensively at both their lives up until that point. From where they'd lived, family tree, healthy history to education. For Tim, this part was relatively easy. For Darran, less so. Growing up, Darran has experienced a turbulent family life with an absent and disinterested mother, and a father who wouldn't accept his sexuality; thankfully his aunt and uncle took him in and have been a wonderfully positive influence on his life "I struggled to remember some of my past as I had locked it away in the deepest part of my memory box and it was time to open it, but I had Tim their to support me which really helped."
They attended two workshops in January 2018 – one to help folks understand the Stage One workbook, and the other was an "Induction to Adoption" day that outlined their next steps and what they could expect. As the dads-to-be waited to do their medicals, they asked friends and family to write their references.
On February 9, 2018, the couple had their Health and Safety and Finance Check completed which involved a professional coming to their home and accessing their home space. Due to Darran's past, they also had an additional meeting as part of their Stage One to discuss the details of his childhood and how he overcame them. And they passed!
Stage Two begins.
In June, Tim and Darran attend a 3 Day Preparation Training program. It was during this course that they met three other couples trying to adopt and are still in touch today. During the course, they covered topics such as The Development Wall, Attachment, Experiences of Neglect and Abused Children, Family Finding, the Adoption Panel, the Parent's Job, and Learning to Live Together.
Stage Two for Tim and Darran consisted of many, many training days, and being paired up with their social worker, Ann. The dads-to-meet with Ann every week for the next 9 weeks. "We have really got to know Ann and she really got to know us," said Darran. "We talked about so many things and opened up so much about our past and what we want our future to look like."
On September 5, they completed their last session with Ann. "That an emotional day for all of us. There were a few tears shed and a relief that we have completed nine weeks of sessions but also the dread that there was nothing more we could say and we just had to wait for out PAR (prospective adopters report) to arrive in the post."
Three weeks later, they received their PAR, reviewed it over the weekend and then signed, dated it and sent it to the Approval Panel which was 2 weeks away. Tim and Darran were nervous, but excited.
After the Approval Panel, the dads attended a Craft Day and were introduced, for the first time, to their "Pudding." From there, things move quickly and they meet with Pudding's social worker to find out more about him. "We found out what makes him tick, what makes him laugh, what makes him cry and that music is a massive part of his life and he loves to sing himself," shared Darran. "We could write forever and ever about what we heard but we don't want to give everything away."
After that meeting, it was decided to move forward with the Family Linking Meeting - something the dads were not involved in. What they were preparing for was the next and rather large final step: the Matching Panel.
On January 7 it took place in the same place as their first - in Colchester, about 50 minutes from the guys in Essex - and it lasted around 20 minutes. Again, they received an unanimous "yes." Both Tim and Darran broke down with emotion as a sense of relief washed over them. A couple of days later, they have their first meeting with Pudding. "It was an amazing afternoon that Darran and I have been waiting over a year for," said Tim. "We got to meet OUR SON!"
Three more play-dates followed, and then transition week started January 25 which involved seeing Pudding every day at his house, and the following week, Tim and Darran had Pudding every day at their house, his new home.
On February 7, Pudding moves in with his dads.
For the rest of February, Pudding has been getting to familiar with his new home, his new family and new extended family. As Tim gets ready to go back to work after paternity leave (Darran has a year off), the dads reflect on what has been the best five weeks of their lives.
Continue to follow this journey via their blog, Two Poofs and a Pudding.