Cara was adopted by Chris and Joe when she was two years old. They write about Cara’s speech and language needs, how they taught Cara to sign and what parenting life is like for the two adoptive dads, both of whom are profoundly deaf. 

When Cara came to live with us, except for a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, she couldn’t talk. She was extremely frustrated by not being able to get her point across and as a result screeched a lot. 

To try and build her communication skills and improve her confidence to communicate, we gradually taught her Makaton sign language. One day, when catching a ball, she suddenly said “ball” verbally along with the sign and that was a real breakthrough – it was her first word. 

From that point on, we helped her to expand her vocabulary by signing any objects we saw around us and verbally saying the word to her, which she would then repeat back to us. After a year she was talking to us using one word signs such as drink, bath and TV.  

It took at least two and half years for her to speak in full sentences and at times our deafness has been a challenge. As Cara’s language developed, she would try to tell us something that she didn’t know the sign for, and when we struggled to understand her, she would become frustrated. To help, we would play a guessing game. Is it a person? Is it a place? What colour is it? When we understood what she was saying, we would translate it into a sign for future reference. 

Cara thrived during her first two years at school. She had no problem making friends and loved her teachers. We started to notice that she was behind her peers in learning and found handwriting and reading very challenging.  

Now in Year 2, Cara is building confidence and is very outdoorsy and active with a good circle of friends. The school have identified that she needs extra support with reading and maths. She’s been referred for an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). We think the extra help could really benefit her. 

When Cara reached school age, as same sex parents, we did sometimes feel a bit excluded from the tightly knit group of mums at the school. They were always polite but we never quite felt like we fitted in. We would welcome a shift away from the assumption that mothers are always primary carers and towards more equal parenting responsibilities. We wish that there was more representation of children with two daddies like us, as well as deafness in children’s books and TV. Our deafness has sometimes been difficult, particularly during the pandemic as we rely heavily on lip reading, but we now have a strong support network and we have always felt accepted as parents. 

Our experience of adoption has been very positive and we are excited to be going through the process again. Cara has asked for a brother or sister and we are now in the early stages of adopting another child. We’ve had some obstacles along the way, but we are feeling confident; our network is much stronger than it was the first time we adopted and we feel much more informed about the process and what to expect.