Sunday 29 December 2013

I'm just a dad

I read a smashing article in the Independent on the need for increased adoption support today. I thought it was a good piece but I found one phrase irksome, adopters were described as "unsung heroes". This coincided with a Tweet I read extolling the virtues of adoptive parents, again claiming exceptional qualities.

Now as Mrs C will no doubt testify I like being praised and generally thought of as a top bloke, but as an adopter, and good grief, an adopter of SIX children I object to being described as an unsung hero.

Now, you may think I'm being churlish, disingenuous even,  fear not Mrs C may be the first to set me straight on this. But, I am a dad first and an adopter second.
I freely acknowledge that because my children were adopted their experiences of life are different from many other children. But all children present challenges and all biological parents enter into it with high hopes and deal with whatever their child brings, be that illness, genius, criminality, priesthood, whatever, whatever, whatever.

So, in almost all respects we are the same. Yes, we have a CPR and a matching report and this and that, but we have no guarantees of anything, good or bad. So, as adoptive parents we just go with it, we cope, we rise to the challenge, we make mistakes and do stupid things, we have good days and bad days and a lot of days in-between, we have quiet words in teacher's ears, we advocate, we laugh and we cry, we go the extra mile and we turn the other cheek.

We are parents.

Having sat on an adoption panel I can testify to meeting many hopeful parents and the excitement and the privilege of being part of that process was an honour. However, I spied no heroes. I saw a variety of people, all shapes, colours, backgrounds, education, faith, but all of them had made the decision to be parents, mums or dads.

They just wanted to be parents.

Calling adopters unsung heroes places them on a pedestal, with unattainable levels of parenting skills and powers. If I were to bring my children before you they would not hesitate in sharing the reality of having me as a dad. Grumpy, self righteous, smart alec and smelly may be words you'd hear. Certainly, Flossy is not backwards in coming forwards with her opinions on my parenting. However, I'm their dad.

When I meet people I am in a quandary, eventually the conversation gets round to children and the nature of my family means sooner or later the truth will out and they discover I'm a serial adopter. Then they look at me differently, but I'm just a dad, not a modern day Bernardo or anything special.

But, I am playing the hand I was dealt, admittedly, I picked up the cards and have made choices how to play them. But I am dad, just a dad.
The minute I consider myself a hero then I stop being a dad and then all is lost. My children are not a project or a mission. They are my children, not my 'adopted' children.

Now I freely acknowledge that I have a flair for being wrong, so feel free to disagree.


  1. I do not disagree. And that is not a personal comment on your general level of heroic-ness!

  2. It warms my heart to think of you agreeing with me.

  3. I can see that you make the best kind of Dad for being just that, a Dad! However I can also see why others would be in awe of what you do, just don't change, the world needs Dad's like you. I love the way you write too.

  4. Thank you for your kind comments. I'm trying.

  5. Parenting is not always an easy job and I have no doubt that that is true whether you are a biological parent or not. I have 3 (almost 4) children and I do not see myself as a hero either, even though people assume that having more than one or two children makes me a supermum. I am just a mum. And although my kids may see me as a hero sometimes, those times are few and far between most days!!
    I love the honesty of this post, thanks for sharing! x x

  6. Thanks for the comment.
    We all just get on with it, I can't think of another option.