Mar 16, 2009

Home-Dadding The Beginning - Dan's Story Part 1

The emails keep coming in regards to the Home-Dadding the Beginning series. I have to admit to having very little blogging time. Things are more hectic now that we are preparing things for the arrival of 'number three' in April. A good thing then that the Northern Dads Group members are writing this series for me!

This is Dan's story (I like to call him FP Dan since he is now the Former President of NDG). It's a ripper post and offers a great perspective on Home-Dadding detailing the IVF experience, adoption and the unique stressors and joys that this can bring to a family. It highlights two things for me -the fact that there are many paths to Home-Dadding, and also that we are very lucky, in this part of the world, to have a number of options available to us when it comes to family structuring and child rearing. The more options a family has the greater the chances of balance and happiness for everyone, I reckon.

I'll be posting Dan's Story in three parts over the coming week. It is a great read, so stay tuned.

Dan's Story

Hello, my name’s Dan and I’m stay home dad to three kids age 11, 5 and 3. There’s a bit of a story as to how I ended up as the one at home…………..……..

Me and my partner have both worked for quite a while now in the social services field (yes, we’re both ‘nicey-nicey social worker types’) and although the pay is generally pretty hopeless, it does mean that our employers are more flexible with family friendly hours than many (there’s a majority of female workers in social work management). So even while I was working ‘full-time’ at the time of our first son’s birth (he’s 11 now), my employers granted me (on request) every other Wednesday as ‘leave without pay‘ to be at home with him. I’ve always been the sort of Dad who cooks tea, wipes bums and does the washing as well as boofing around with the baby, so the thought of being at home for longer periods wasn’t too scary for me.

Anyway, I’m jumping ahead a bit. After a number of years trying for another child, using the ’usual method’ without success, we thought we might need a bit of help. So we had a short, but emotionally and physically full-on, course of five IVF cycles. When each cycle got increasingly less successful, we had to reluctantly concede that siblings from the same gene pool as our oldest were extremely unlikely. But we weren’t quite ready to give up on our dream of more kids in the family, so we explored other ways of doing things and found out about the Adoption and Permanent Care process, which finds permanent homes for kids from Australia who can‘t live with their birth family.

After a seemingly endless round of assessments and training we were accepted to be adoptive parents. Part of this process stipulated that one of the parents had to stay home with the child who was placed in the family, for at least the first 18 months. This is to give the child plenty of time to ‘bond and attach’ to the parents. The implication is that the child will attach in particular to one of the parents – the one who stays at home.

When we mulled this over, we saw no reason why that shouldn’t be me, especially as with no breast feeding going on, there was no practical reason why it shouldn’t be. A large part of this decision also was the fact that my partner had felt emotionally and quite literally battered and bruised by the IVF process, for no tangible benefit (apart from a useful cooler bag which we had used to take the follicle-stimulating drugs and injection kits home in!). She was fed up with being prodded and poked by umpteen different doctors and nurses and was feeling exhausted, and its fair to say I’d been the keener to look at adoption, and had probably had more energy to follow the process through.

So after we were suitably vetted and pronounced ‘acceptable parents’ by all the(other) nicey nicey social workers we were then put on a centralised waiting list. Very luckily, soon after this, we were linked up with our beautiful second son, who arrived at our house, aged five months. We had been led to expect, by the agency, that any child would be probably two years old or more, so we were initially blown away by our new addition being under one and still very much a baby. We hadn’t forgotten about the sleepless nights and intensity of emotions, but our body clocks took some re-acquainting to it!

I was overawed by the task ahead in the first few months and in retrospect I was not only coming to grips with being a ‘stay-home-dad’, but also with getting to know and to feel attached to our new baby, so no wonder I felt, er, less than blissful.

To be continued Wednesday...

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