Welcome to Spill the Milk, where we ask some of the UK’s most famous mums and dads to reveal all about the wonderful world of parenting.
We caught up with dadfluencers Two Dads in London (Richard and Lewis) who open up about their adoption journey, being their children’s best friends and how screen time isn’t something to be ashamed of.
We both have always wanted a family
Lewis: I always wanted a family, but I didn’t necessarily believe it would happen, because obviously being a gay man it wasn’t something you saw a lot. Then when we originally started dating we spoke about having a family, so it sort of all clicked into place really.
Richard: I think growing up it was definitely something that I always wanted to have. I grew up around lots of cousins and they’re sort of like your first best friends, so I guess that’s something I always wanted. Then when we met and got together it didn’t take that long for that conversation to come up.
Adoption was the route we resonated towards
Richard: Surrogacy obviously was the other option that we could have looked at. But for us we knew that there’s obviously lots of children out there that specifically need a family and it would be completely joint for us if we adopted a child. It wouldn’t be either mine or Lew’s, it would be we’ve both adopted this child, that there is no actual blood relation, but we’re completely joint. I think we also thought that we probably wouldn’t really cope well with a brand newborn baby and we thought the idea was when you go through adoption that you don’t get a brand newborn baby, specifically when it’s a same sex couple. But our little girl came to us at literally just five months old, so we did experience that.
Lewis: It just wasn’t a big discussion or something that we ‘ummed’ and ‘ahed’ about for ages, it was like ‘surrogacy?’, not for us, ‘adoption?’, definitely. It was a natural decision that we didn’t really talk about too much, it just happened that way.
Our first time adopting was quite a lengthly process
Richard: Mainly because we were having work done at home which then delayed it, because there’s so many things that can have an impact on it. It’s not just about whether you be a good paren’t, there’s all of the financial checks, the house checks and we were in the middle of some building work which delayed us by about five months. But in total it took about 18 months from start to actually getting our little boy.
Lewis: The actual process I would describe it as therapy really, because you have your social worker who comes in on day one and you’re sort of just getting to know each other and by the end of the process you’ve spoken about in-depth childhood things that you probably wouldn’t speak about to your best friends. Adoption brings a rollercoaster of emotions; one session you could be laughing, then the next session you’re crying. We’ll never say ‘this is what it’s like and this is what it would be for you’, because it’s completely different for every person who wants to adopt, but ours was good.
The most challenging thing about being a parent is learning to go with the flow
Richard: It’s that whole you may have a plan and no matter what that plan is, because you’ve got kids, it will most probably change. Like you’re planning to go shopping and it’s 11 o’clock, you’ve just left and then there’s an explosion in a nappy and it’s like, right, we haven’t got a change of clothes we’re going to have to go back, we’ll probably have to go shopping tomorrow. Planning goes away and you just have to get used to it.
Lewis: I overthink everything, honestly if there’s a situation happening I overthink it. Like at one point in my life toilet training was the worst thing ever, I just didn’t think it was going to take and now I don’t even think about it until the next thing comes along. It’s never ever boring in our house.
“Adoption brings a rollercoaster of emotions; one session you could be laughing, then the next session you’re crying.”
The best thing for us is feeling like we’re our children’s best friends
Richard: It’s a really amazing thing, because really until a certain age we probably are their best friend. They literally look to us for inspiration, help and support and I think it’s just so nice to know that that’s what you do for them.
Lewis: I try not to think about the future and when they’re going to want to go out with their friends and stuff. I’ll be like ‘you’re not going stay at home? I’ll come with you’. When they’re in the club I’ll be in there too like ‘shall I go with you?’ and they’ll be like ‘go away’. When they’re teenagers I already know Richard will be the taxi driver and I’ll just be there crying.
An iPad and travel potty are two things we just can’t live without
Richard: I think not being ashamed to say that every now and then that your kids are allowed to have a screen is important, as long as you have proper control of it, because it gives you a break to sit down, have a coffee and go watch something for half an hour. People seem scared to say, ‘Oh, my kids are having some screen time’ and I think well, if it’s balanced and it makes it all work better in your house, then you’re kind of mad not to use it.
Lewis: We’ve got this life saving travel potty for our daughter too, because when we had a girl we had to get used to that type of toilet. When she was toilet training I kept thinking ‘why is there wee on the steps?’ and it’s because she literally stood up like a man, because she’d only been seeing us, so for about a month we were all sitting down to do a wee in our house. So definitely her travel potty.
As kids, we were both pretty mischievous
Lewis: I feel like if my kids did this I would actually go crazy. But when I was little I lived in a block of flats and they were having work done on the outside, and I lived on the third floor, and I climbed over the balcony onto the scaffolding and was knocking on the kitchen window to my mum going ‘hello!’. I was maybe 10 and now I think that was the most dangerous thing.
Richard: Me and my mum went shopping and I really wanted this police set and I was clearly told I couldn’t have it for whatever reason. So, I ended up getting away from my mum and I stood outside of the shop going ‘look I’ve got the toy set’. She then came out of the shop and said ‘that’s it, I’m going to take this police set and you’re going to be arrested’. I was like ‘oh my God, why did I steal the police set?’.
Richard and Lewis’ book, My Family and Other Families: Finding the Power in Our Differences, is available to buy now.
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