A letter to…. My seventeen year old self by Tom Cox
Tom aka the Unlikely Dad is 33 and a father to his son and husband to his husband. Blogging all about life, parenthood and everything that comes with having a family over at theunlikelydad.com.
Look at you!
You have no idea what the next 15 years will bring. You weren’t the biggest fan of school I know, but in the past year at college you’ve met some wonderful, like minded souls. And this sets you on your way to becoming who you were meant to be. You realise you’re okay. And being gay is no big deal. You’ve recently met someone called Daniel. You’re very young (and he’s 23, a little older but I know you secretly like that). This is the guy you’ll spend the rest of your life with.
You’ll move in with him. You’ll buy your first flat together at 19. It’s a filthy little pit but you make it a home (a very, very small one). It maybe damp and cold but it’s a first stepping stone. Even now, at 33 I wouldn’t tell you not to do it and enjoy it for everything it is. You’ll have some ups and downs. You’ll get jobs and lose jobs. You’ll see beautiful places together. You’ll be poor. Then you’ll feel flush. You’ll learn so much. All in good time.
You guys get married when you’re 26. It’s a lovely big affair. Without a doubt the best day of your life. I remember everything about it still seven years later. A year or so after your wedding something changes. It’s subtle. But you feel grown up. Your circle has gotten smaller…but it’s now the perfect size and there is room for all your friends and family in your heart. These are the friends you’ll keep forever. You’re an uncle to your niece and nephews and this is a new kind of love you haven’t experienced before and you absolutely love it. When you’re 30 you’ll want your own baby. You would NEVER have thought about this at 26 let alone 17. But something changes. The time is right. You’ll have your home which you take so much pride in (who’d have guessed considering right now at 17 you’ve never washed your clothes or cleaned the bathroom!), you have your family, your friends, a great community. You feel ready to be a dad.
You and Daniel decide to go on a journey. One that will change your life in more ways than anything else ever has, or ever will. The journey of adoption is a big one. There is no real preparing you for it. You meet with your social work for the first time in June 2014 and she is fantastic. She just gets you both so you have nothing to worry about there. You can often hear how invasive and gruelling the adoption process can be. But be an open book. You have no skeletons. Nothing to be afraid of.
You’ll go into this so willing to learn and create your family. Yes, at times, it’s not easy. The meetings and training are brilliant. They offer you such an insight into the children that are in care. The social worker meetings feel like free therapy where you just get to talk about yourself, friends and family, your life, upbringing… but it’s the waiting. That’s the part that you find tough. It will feel like you sail through the key stages, getting yourselves approved as adopters. You’ve done it. All that hard work is compete. The meetings, assessments, medicals… tick! But then what? Oh, you have to find (be matched with) your child. And this is the insane bit.
From meeting other adopters you’ll be told “you’ll just know”. But you’ll find that hard to believe. How can you love a child you don’t even know? One that hasn’t come from you. But oh my… you will. You’ll be approved as prospective adopters in October 2014 and on December 10th that same year you were sent a profile of a little boy. You will know from the moment you see his little face that he will become your son. You’ll both laugh adoringly at how much he looks like Daniel.
But the waiting? Yeah… this is when you’ll need to be patient. You’ll register your interest. But don’t hear anything for weeks. All over Christmas. New Year. Nothing. Were another family also interested in this child? It’s torture. Not being able to say anything to anyone for fear of getting hopes up. But you’ll decide not to hang around. If this boy is to come home to you forever, you’ll need to make room for him. So you do. Buying nursery furniture in all the sales. Toys. You nest.
In late January (yes, really!) the child’s social worker agrees to come and visit you. This is your moment. The lady representing this beautiful little human, your son, is going to be in your house. We’ve never been more welcoming and of course Tommy’s Famous Brownies™ had to be made.
Together you’ll nail it. You are told at the end of that session that the social worker would like to proceed with the match. Your heart expands suddenly. Is this really happening? She leaves… you both look at one another as well as your social worker. Tears. Hugs. Laughter. Can we tell people? Should we?
It won’t be until April that you get to meet him. You’ll have to go through another panel, this time to be approved for the match. And it will be a unanimous ‘yes’. You’ll be told “you claimed him as your own for the start” and it’s right. He was mine. He was ours. We knew.
That day before walking into the foster carer’s house, where he’d been since birth will be with me forever. Knowing that when I knock on that door, nothing will ever be the same again. I will see my son’s face. Hold him and kiss him and be his dad. For the rest of our lives.
And just like that, it’s all change in your world. You’ll no longer worry about some of the things you did before: having the latest phone, buying into the latest trends. You have everything you’ll ever need. You’ll appreciate things you never noticed before. You’ll see autumn. Properly, I mean. Taking in the leaves changing then falling to the floor as your son runs about the leaves kicking them. You’ll see the magic through a child’s eyes that we so easily lose as adults. Encourage this behaviour every day. You’ll be tired all the time. But you won’t care. The family has grown and shows so much love for your little boy. He was meant to be here.
At 33 you’ll feel so content. Enjoy it. Every single second. In another 15 years who knows where you’ll be and what our 48 year old self will be telling us at 33…
Right Now I’m…
Reading: The Little Book of Hygge. I have been reading it for almost a year, am sure I’ll finish it at some point.
Listening To: Troye Sivan, currently obsessed.
Watching: Ru Pauls Drag Race of course!!