Uncertainty is an emotion that potential adopters have to get used to very quickly. And it isn’t just those adopting who become familiar with uncertainty; their family, friends, and employers will, too.
In my case, my school colleagues joined in our excitement and trepidation at a very early stage. I had planned to get my own head around the process first and tell folk at school at a much later date. This was not to be.
On meeting our social worker for the first time, she suggested that my partner and I go on an adoption preparation course the following week (social workers are subject to government targets, too).
The next day, I nervously headed into my headteacher’s office to let him know that at some point in the future I hoped I would become a dad and that no one knew when this would be (least of all me). I explained that as I was employed, while my partner was self-employed, it would be me who would take the adoption leave (which is legally and financially identical to maternity/parental leave).
Sharing my journey with the pupils
The headteacher was delighted for us and he asked, should I wish to, that I share my journey with the pupils in school.
I accepted. The joys of becoming a gay dad through adoption were to be shared with the whole school community.
This support (which I now know sadly isn’t experienced by all LGBT parents who work in schools) continued throughout the ups and downs of the process. Plans were made and plans were rewritten multiple times. I experienced compassion and unwavering support throughout, including when an adoption match broke down in the very final stages.
We were matched with our son about a year after that first meeting with our social worker. We became his parents and I started my adoption leave about three months later. In my final week in school, I was showered with gifts from staff and pupils. I even cried in front of my tutor group (somewhat denting my reputation as the strict and unemotional teacher).
Daniel Hugill is chair of NATRE (National Association of Teachers of Religious Education) and a teacher at The Coopers’ Company and Coborn School in Upminster, East London. He tweets @danielhugill