Ahead of London Pride, and on the 20th anniversary of the Adoption and Children Act granting equal rights to same-sex couples applying for adoption in England & Wales, AUK volunteer Emma reflects on her own adoption journey.

Growing up I knew I was different to others in my year but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what that was. It wasn’t until I reached Year 9 at school, about 14yrs old, and heard about a woman called Ellen DeGeneres and watched a Coming Out evening on Channel 4 from underneath my duvet that I knew this is how I was different – I was gay. From then on I knew things weren’t going to be easy. I thought I would have to probably say goodbye to ever getting married or becoming a mum…but I didn’t give up hope!

I always knew I wanted to become a mum – I just didn’t know how I was going to make that possible. I learned about IVF and then, in 2002, the Adoption and Children Act granted equal rights to same-sex couples applying for adoption - 20 years ago this year. Now I had a real chance of making my dream a reality.

In 2018, after several failed attempts and 2 miscarriages through IVF, I decided that I could no longer put my body through it but still very much wanted to become a parent. Myself and my wonderful wife Ann spoke to lots of people about adoption and went to lots of information events. Finally, whilst on a reflective holiday in Kos we agreed we wanted to start our adoption journey.

We’re a military family, so we wanted to adopt with SSAFA, the armed forces charity. Adoption | SSAFA Over the next 2 years we registered initial interest, started stage 1, completed a 4 day preparation course, started stage 2, went to approval panel, moved house, started family finding, were linked, went into a global pandemic, had a virtual matching panel, started introductions and brought our little girl home. Throughout that whole time the fact we were a same-sex couple only ever really came up once.

It's two years since our little lady spent her first night in her own bed under our roof – and what a two years it’s been. Adoption has changed all our lives – certainly for the better. I now talk to anyone and everyone about the adoption process as a journey to parenthood. I also volunteer with Adoption UK and lead monthly virtual meet ups for a wonderful group of LGBT+ adopters at all stages of the process. It's a really valuable network of people, sharing the highs and the lows, and tips for dealing with situations that arise when you are a same-sex parent of an adopted child. I absolutely love it. If you’re interested in joining us, you’ll get a very warm welcome. Check out AUK’s website: Community Groups | Adoption UK Charity

To anyone who might be considering adoption I would say DO IT! It’s one of the hardest, most beautifully rewarding journeys you will ever go on.

Emma, Adoption UK Volunteer