Trans adopter Alex shares his adoption experience
Alex was the first trans person to adopt from his local authority in the north of England when his son Cassius, then aged 18 months, was placed with him two years ago.
He shares his adoption journey with Adoption UK as record numbers of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people now adopt in the UK.
Alex said: “I first considered adopting when I was aged 13. It was during a conversation with several friends about what our lives would be like when we were grown up. I decided then that I would adopt a child as it made more sense to give an existing child a loving home then bring another one into the world.
I always planned on adopting but assumed I would do it as a couple. I didn’t imagine that transitioning could be a barrier but for some reason I assumed for a long time that a single man couldn’t adopt.
I was my local authority’s first trans adopter. They recognised the lack of knowledge within the panel and so brought in trans-awareness training before I went to panel. I’m not sure whether the medical advisor was trans-aware and so my medical records came under exceptionally close scrutiny. As a result my assessment was put on hold for several months while I had to undergo further psychological evaluation.
In my day-to-day life I am a man and a father. No one questions either fact. I don’t come out as being trans, or an adopter, unless I want the other person to know, for a good reason. I’m out to most my friends and all my family and everyone is very supportive.
I only know a small handful of other trans adopters in the UK but I feel it’s becoming more common each year. I know several other trans people that are considering adoption.
I feel immensely privileged to be able to be an adoptive father to Cassius, to love and support a young human being with a huge amount of potential. I’m also very sad that he had to go through such trauma and challenges before he came to me. I can’t imagine not being his dad. I think my life would feel very strange without him around.
I’m also a single adoptive parent. I gave up waiting to find the right partner so went solo. It is challenging having to do everything and only getting respite when my parents or close friends step in for a few hours. It’s also hard on both of us that I have to play both roles – bad-cop as well as good-cop. However I do get to make all the parenting decisions without a partner to disagree with me.
My message to members of the trans community who are considering adopting a child would be this:If you’ve transitioned and sorted out your own identity you have probably a great deal of resilience and self-reliance. So if you’re up for another huge challenge and making a real difference to a child who needs supporting while working out their own identity….go for it! But bear in mind your life will completely change yet again, and like transition, there isn’t a way back.
The one thing I’d like the general public to know about being a trans parent is that everyone is different. Everyone has something about them that other people may not understand. The same goes for our children. So long as someone can provide a consistently safe, loving, and nurturing home for a child, it doesn’t matter what you look like, or what body parts you may, or may not, have.
This year there’s been a large increase in adoption agencies requesting specialist trans-awareness training from organisations such as New Family Social, so they can effectively assess potential trans adopters. I can’t see the number decreasing since we’re starting from such small figures, so it will probably trend upwards for a while at least.
I think the increase in positive trans media coveragehas led to people being more confident being trans in general. I think events such as LGBT Adoption & Fostering Week are a really good way to get the message out there, and hopefully with agencies accessing quality trans-awareness training they will provide a positive welcome to potential trans adopters who may request information.
Being an adoptive parent is the biggest challenge. I think any challenges associated with being trans are probably going to be relatively insignificant. They’re certainly not at all an issue right now in any case.