I recall that from the age of 16 I wanted to be a dad. I distinctly remember a conversation I had with my mother at the time, where I mentioned that I would one day become a dad and that I would have this child without a wife or girlfriend for that matter to help me raise him/her. At the time I was not out as a gay person to my family or friends. I still remember my mom asking me then how I intended to have this child then if I was not planning on having a wife or girlfriend.
I don’t recall having a rational answer for her, but I do remember being adamant about it and saying to her that it would happen.
Time passed by, I finished school and started working.
I met my hubby and for the first few years, we basically enjoyed life and what life had to offer us. A year before we got married, we split. Not sure if it was the seven-year itch, or boredom, or what it was. The truth is that although we were living together during that year, same house different rooms, we were dating other people. In that year, I believe we both had time to reflect and appreciate the other and the life we had managed to build together. The home we both loved.
Exactly a year later, we reunited. To a certain extent it felt like we picked up from where we left off, but different. We became more honest with each other. We communicated a little more. We wanted more of the same.
The year before I turned 40, I turned to him and let him know we had reached a crossroad. I wasn’t getting younger and neither was he. I wanted to become a dad, ideally, it would be with him. If it wasn’t a part of his plan, though, it would be ok. He could go his way and I would go mine, but I was going to become a parent. He agreed, with a condition. If we were going to become parents, he wanted us to be married.
I searched the internet for a while on possible adoption agencies that could aid us on this journey. Most agencies I found would only help heterosexual couples, others only same faith heterosexual couples and others on Christian … yes, you guessed it .. only heterosexual couples.
It seemed like my dream was going bust!
At this point, we then considered the surrogate option. We did some research and found an agency that specialised in surrogacy. We went for the introductory meeting but left feeling more despondent when we did the maths and what it would cost.
I was back on the internet searching for other avenues that would allow us to become parents.
Surrogacy was definitely out because of the enormous cost implications.
Adoption was our next option. We could go the private adoption route either through an agency or through a private Social Worker, or we could work through Social Welfare.
We could not find a Social Worker in Jozi. All efforts proved fruitless.
After more internet searching we finally found a private agency that seemed like they would be able to assist us as a gay couple. We made an appointment and met with Raine (not her real name) who gave us an introduction to what the process would be like, the costs involved and possible timelines, nothing, though, was set in stone. Too many factors come into play. One point that was made very clear to us, there were no White, Chinese or Indian babies to adopt. If that was our preference then we were in for an extra long wait.
We went home excited having received some good news for a change. We went through the list of requirements that needed to be met with a fine tooth comb, like having a clean police record, being interviewed by our social worker and then only once the agency’s board had reviewed all this information and were happy would we progress to the next step…. the waiting list or what we called us being “pregnant”.
Our wait was long, but there have been others who’s wait was a lot shorter. I’m talking days or a max of 3 months. One can’t help but feel a tad jealous, but the Social Workers have to 1) make sure that the place the right child with the right family 2) the birth parents in most cases also play a role in selecting the adoptive parents that they will be placing their child with. For these reasons, the placement process can take time. Our social worker was very honest with us. As adoption by gay couples was relatively new in South Africa, the chances of being picked by a birth parent were slim, but not impossible. There was also the chance that we would be placed with an abandoned child. Although legally things had evolved, many people’s “thinking” has not. At this point, we should have reflected and asked ourselves why we were continuing with private adoption. The costs are more in comparison to going through Child Welfare, and the end results would be the same.
In retrospect, I believe it was just because … We just wanted to become parents.
During this waiting period, we couldn’t go out and set up the room. We had left the sex of the child open.
Approximately 18 months after going onto the waiting list, we received the call. We had 24 hours to decide if we still wanted to go ahead with the adoption. What a question! Of course, we did! We have been waiting for over a year for this moment! Reflecting on the call I can understand why the question was posed. Much could have changed between when the application was lodged and the date you as the adopting parents receive the call.
A week later we were on a red-eye flight making our way to our son. It all still felt very surreal. In this period we had the first baby shower hosted by my work colleagues and friends. A week after our son was home, it was time for his second baby shower with hubby’s work colleagues.
It has been an amazing journey so far which has exceeded all expectations of becoming a father all those years ago.