Learn more about how we are supporting refugees to secure employment, when they arrive in the UK

Find out more

Inclusion

Navigating the adoption process to find our little girl

Ian Tomney-Bell

Senior Programme Support

June 17, 2022

How it began

My husband and I began talking about children and adoption within the fifth year of us being together — it’s been nine so far. It was a conversation you’d almost expect from a gay couple. What do our options look like, how will people perceive us and more importantly, how will our future child’s life be impacted by having two dads.

We were nervous telling our parents, especially as mine are religious but they were over the moon. They’d gone from thinking they’d get no grandkids to being thrown into this whirlwind with us. It was a no-brainer but we had no idea what we were doing.

Figuring out our options

We decided to go down the adoption route vs. surrogacy. Through our research we found an incredibly helpful website called New Family Social. A site dedicated to helping LGBTQ+ families with adoption, sharing interesting information we wouldn’t have been aware of anywhere else.

When we started, I was working as a Store Leader and our team was already set up for success. This meant taking some time away gave an exciting opportunity for our Assistant Store Leader to step in. Instantly, I already felt like I was supported and I found useful information about maternity and paternity policies that put my mind at ease. I just knew the company would be behind me and it allowed me to be present with my husband and our current adoption reality.

The adoption process

Unfortunately, a process that should have taken six months ended up taking 18 because of Covid. And it really felt like it. Meeting with social workers and having every inch of your life such as finances and family relationships assessed was an exhausting process that feels like you’re baring your soul. In fact, it looks something like this:

  • An initial appointment with agencies
  • Connecting with a social worker who evaluates your lifestyle and upbringing to determine if you’re suitable for the process through numerous meetings 
  • Completing medical, finance, and employment reports.
  • Creating a Perspective Adopters Report (with your social worker)
  • Finding out the results of your assessment through an Adoption Panel
  • Matching with a foster child 
  • Creating an Adoption Placement Report with your social worker
  • Being assessed on your dynamic with the child by an anonymous matching panel for approval 
  • Final transition with your new child for two weeks before they move in with you

Pretty long, right. At times you wonder how much more you could handle. Luckily, we had friends who had also gone through this, and they reminded us about why we were doing it.

The ultimate wedding gift

1

Our wedding day celebrations in 2020 changed our lives in many ways. It wasn’t just the time I got to be legally connected to my partner, but we also got the call saying we had been approved as adoptive parents. This wasn’t just the cherry on top for us, it was the whole tree.

Once this happened, it was all about matching. That’s when Aspen came into our lives. The matching part felt much quicker than the rest and once we saw Aspen’s photo, it was game over. We fell in love instantly. Before anything is confirmed, you have an anonymous adoption panel vote to see if you’re the right match and then you work on your two-week transition period.

All of a sudden we were dads. Navigating our own life and someone else’s. I remember my first day back at work Aspen had to go to the doctor. I remember thinking ‘of all the days’ and my boss who is also a parent said ‘this is what happens, don’t worry about it.’ It’s just great to have that flexibility.

Living our best life

1

This month is Pride and we have so much to be proud of and thankful for. During the process, I also started a new job and all of these changes made me want to create a safe and informative place for my other colleagues who may be going through this too.

I’m looking forward to creating a group within our company that’s about same-sex parenting and adoption because when you know other people who have done it, and you have accessible information, it might change your mind about the happiness you could bring to a child’s life. Without the support of friends, family and work I might have wanted to give up on this process a lot sooner, but our world has elevated in a way we couldn’t have imagined. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Explore more

Connect to better