We were a gay couple – now we are the family we’ve always dreamed of
Phil and Rav met online whilst they were living in London.
Their first date was perfect for them both; they talked non-stop all evening, held hands through Soho, shared a first kiss and wished for the night never to end. On the way home, they both messaged their best friends telling them that they’d just met Mr. Right who, one day, they would marry!
“I knew Rav was the one when he shared his love of Disney movies. Since he worked as a Social Worker in family courts, it wasn’t long before we started talking about having a family of our own,” said Phil.
“Adoption was always the first option for us, so after being together for a few years, we went to a couple of Adoption Information Evenings in London. From this we realized we needed to consider plans for our future family and decide where best to raise our children having the support of friends and family around us.”
As Rav’s family are in Australia, they decided to move closer to Phil’s family and friends who reside in Lancashire.
“On our first date, we knew we had met Mr. Right! And we both wanted a family of our own.”
“It was a heart-breaking decision to say goodbye to London and our friends, but for us the move meant we had a support network to lean on, if needed, during our adoption journey,” Phil continued.
“In January 2016, six months after the move, we started the adoption process. We chose Adoption Now – a regional adoption agency. We were fortunate to be allocated a social worker who was honest and sincere. We felt that she genuinely cared about us and was keen to ensure we had the right child match. She talked us through the process in detail. We felt that Adoption Now would be with us the whole way through our journey. How right we were!
“We knew the adoption journey would be an emotional one, but we hadn’t expected to learn so much about ourselves. The three-day training course was extremely insightful and really made us think about our own parenting style and what kind of parents we wanted to be.
“We were both extremely nervous when we went to panel, but we felt prepared to answer anything. We are reflective people and honest too, and I think that helped the panel see our sincerity and the love that we could offer to children. We were totally ready to adopt and have our lives changed forever.”
Phil and Rav were always keen to parent a sibling group. Phil’s dad was adopted aged 3, but sadly was separated from his older siblings and brought up as an only child. Phil’s dad missed out on having a strong relationship with his siblings, so Phil was passionate about keeping siblings together. This was supported by Rav who also has an adopted brother.
Once their assessment was looking positive, they were able to start searching for their children. They spent many hours searching through the online register and attended an adoption ‘Activity Day’ where they could spend time with children in care and chat to social workers about possible matches.
Whilst Phil and Rav enjoyed this day they were unsuccessful in finding the right match for them. Not long after, Rav attended an ‘Exchange Day’ where he started chatting to the family finder of two boys who they had previously seen on the online register.
“Meeting your children for the first time is indescribable. Feelings of excitement, love, fear and happiness all rolled into one!”
It was here that he fell in love with them and couldn’t wait to get home to tell Phil all about their potential adoptive boys. They told the social workers that they were interested in adopting the boys and they were assessed as a possible match.
Sadly, the boys’ social workers and foster carers were slightly apprehensive with the boys being placed with two men, due to the boys’ past trauma, as they demonstrated fear around men. Their 5-year-old son didn’t even acknowledge his male foster carer for the first month of living with them, and this negativity towards men became the greatest barrier for Phil and Rav to overcome.
To understand how receptive the boys would be to Rav and Phil, the social workers planned a ‘bump in’. This entailed a meeting with the social workers and the foster carers prior to meeting the boys. Rav and Phil were told not to expect a lot of eye contact or communication from the boys at the bump in. However, what happened next was a complete surprise to everybody. Within minutes of meeting their potential adoptive children, Phil and Rav were laughing, chatting and having loads of fun with the boys. The ‘bump in’ was a huge success and the adoption went full speed ahead.
In April 2017, they adopted their boys aged 5 and 2.
“Meeting your children for the first time is indescribable. Feelings of excitement, love, fear and happiness all rolled into one,” Rav recalled. “It was so surreal hearing the boys call us Dad and Daddy. Obviously, we knew it wasn’t going to be easy but gradually during introductions, we got to know the boys more and more each day and just couldn’t get enough of them. They were cute, funny, witty, kind and honest.
“We loved the fact that some of their personality traits were like ours. The whole process was exactly as we’d thought but we didn’t expect the boys to attach themselves to us so quickly.”
However, all was not as smooth as expected as they boys seem to favour their relationship with Phil, which was hard for both Rav and Phil, especially as Phil went back to work after two weeks of paternity leave. This caused a lot of tension between Phil and Rav, but they supported each other and talked openly with their social worker about how they were both feeling.
“Parenting itself is tough, but when you’re trying to get to know two little people, there’s a whole complex web of relationships that needs time and patience in order for it to grow,” said Phil. “This was the hardest part of adopting for me, trying to get into routines of being a family, instead of just being a couple.”
Six months after the boys were placed, Phil and Rav received a phone call to say that the boys’ birth mum had given birth to a daughter and they were asked to consider adopting a sister for their boys. On their first date, they had mentioned the fact that they wanted three kids eventually, but they hadn’t anticipated it would come so soon.
The boys had settled in so well, and Phil and Rav had enjoyed the pleasure of parenting so much, that they decided to adopt again. Phil explained: “I was really wary at first as I didn’t want our daughter’s adoption to undermine the progress that the boys had made, and so at first I was really hesitant to adopt again.
“However, we really felt like she was the last piece of our jigsaw and even our eldest had asked for a younger sister without knowing she’d even been born. All the signs pointed towards her joining our family and so we said yes to adopting her!
“In April 2018, we all began the nerve-wracking ‘introductions’ and the boys met their sister for the first time. Our youngest son was very confident and engaged with her straight away. Our eldest son is an introvert and extremely shy and so he sat back and watched his younger siblings play together.
“Once our son had got bored (after a few minutes!) of playing with our daughter, our eldest son then came into his own. He spoke softly to her, gently tickled her, sang to her and played beautifully with her. We were so proud and in awe of him. We knew that we had made the right decision.
“We spent more time with her on each day and after a week, she moved in with us. The boys had helped decorate her nursery by choosing the theme and colours. They were proud to show their sister her new bedroom….and we were proud of our children!”
Rav added: “Our lives are fulfilled – the boys absolutely dote on their younger sister and are loving being older brothers.”
“Family time is precious – we are so fortunate and proud!”
Having three children of varying ages is certainly keeping Phil and Rav on their toes, as they juggle work, daily chores, birthday parties, family and friends visits, trips out, cooking, school and nursery runs etc., their life has completely turned around.
Phil and Rav are keen for their children to be proud that they’ve been adopted and to be proud of their gay dads. Their daughter is too young to understand her background but Phil and Rav both discuss the boys’ background with them and they talk about their birth family regularly.
All the children have a ‘life story book’ which is filled with information and pictures of their life so far in which the children look through as and when the topic arises. This has meant that the boys feel more comfortable in talking about their past, which is one of the things that Phil and Rav learnt about during their adoption training.
“Adoption Now have been fantastic and consistent and we both know if any issues come up or if there are any concerns, Adoption Now will provide support if needed,” said Phil. “Our social worker is like a member of our family now.”
Phil and Rav travelled to Australia last Christmas to visit Rav’s family, although they were extremely nervous about the long-haul flights, they prepared the boys and catered for every eventuality. Phil added: “The journey was just perfect. We’d booked night flights and all three children slept for a decent length of time.
“Our daughter had a good sleep and the boys loved the entertainment onboard. We’d spoken with friends and family who gave us some good tips and this all helped for a stress-free flight both there and back. The boys were so excited about meeting Rav’s family and we had such a wonderful time, they didn’t want to come back.
“One of our treasured memories was when we all stayed on a farm at Phillip Island for a few days with Rav’s family. We were surrounded by sheep, horses, pigs, goats and even saw a few wild kangaroos. There was a huge playground which allowed the children to roam free in a safe environment laughing and giggling with all our family members that the children had never met.
“We took the boys to watch the penguins coming in from the ocean at dusk and watched them waddle to their burrows when it went dark. The boys love animals but have only seen them up close in a zoo back in the UK. In Australia, we were able to show them what nature should be like and it was priceless seeing their little faces light up when they saw their first wild penguin.”
Now that they have adopted all three children, Phil and Rav have fulfilled their family dream.
Their children have three other amazing sisters who are all living with their respective adopted families. They have a WhatsApp group and speak almost daily, sharing stories and photos of the siblings.
“This way it keeps the connection between the siblings even though they aren’t all living together,” Phil explained. “All six of the siblings see each other regularly. Could there be more siblings – yes there could! – but for now our family is complete, and we are so pleased and fortunate that we’ve got our happy ending of the family we longed for!”