“People tell you it’s going to be a life-changing experience, but you never really believe them,” smiles Andrew Heeley-Randerson, as he cuddles his two-year-old son.
“But once I became a parent, that old cliche of ‘you don’t know what you’re missing’ really did ring true; you just can’t describe it.”
University manager Andrew and husband Edward, a psychotherapist, adopted their son 18 months ago in the home town of Rotherham, when he was nine-months-old.
“Meeting the baby we’d been matched with for the first time was definitely nerve wracking,” recalls Andrew.
“Neither of us had been around babies much so it was all very new, but what amazed me was the emotional attachment. This developed so fast and we knew we wanted him to be part of our lives very quickly.
“You get to know the child over a period of time, and when we were finally left alone with him, I remember this feeling of overwhelming responsibility coming over me. Here we were entirely in charge of this small person!
“When we had to take him back to his foster family at the end of his visits, we found we were both tearful, being parted from him was an emotional wrench.
“When you get that final piece of paper to say this child is now legally yours, it’s overwhelming. We are just so glad we did it.”
And last year the couple made their family complete, when they went through the whole process again to adopt their daughter, now aged one.
“Now we are the proud parents of a two-year-old and a one-year-old and my life has never felt as complete as it does now.” says Andrew, aged 32.
“We are a proper family.”
Andrew and Edward decided to speak out about their experience in the hope it will encourage other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples in the region to consider adoption. Their decision comes following the news that Rotherham Council currently has ten babies waiting to be adopted.
“This is highly unusual,” confirmed a spokesman for Rotherham Children and Young People’s Services.
“Babies are quite a rarity these days, as local authorities tend to have older children waiting for adoption.
“When stigmas over unmarried mothers still existed, there were lots of young babies needing homes. Today, having a baby out of wedlock is much less of an issue, meaning fewer babies coming up for adoption.”
The ten youngsters currently looking for loving forever homes range from newborn through to several months old and the hunt is now on to find parents for these babies. The local authority has issued an appeal for people in Rotherham and Sheffield to come forward.
“The support we have had from Rotherham Council has just been brilliant,” confirms Andrew.
“Certainly we never considered that being gay would be a barrier for us to be able to adopt. But what I would say is it might not be something you have necessarily thought about.
“Some straight people go through the heartache of trying to conceive a baby naturally before they adopt, so they know they want a child, but this isn’t always the same for LGBT people, where adoption is often the first step taken towards parenthood.
“I would just say if you’re thinking about it, do it. It really is amazing. I always thought I would prefer to adopt a slightly older child, but I’m so glad I’ve been able to witness our children’s key milestones, like starting to walk and talk.
“We can’t thank Rotherham Council enough for their understanding and support as they helped us to make our family complete.”
Ian Thomas, Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services, said: “We want to encourage as many people as possible to contact us in order for us to be able to match the children we have in our care with forever families.
“Children deserve to be brought up in a loving environment with a secure roof over their heads and be part of a family who puts them first, but sadly this is not always the case for all children.
“It is our duty to make sure the babies and children in our care who haven’t had the best start in life are given the same chance as everyone else, and that is why we are searching for their potential parents.
“These are real children who need you. The more people who come forward to talk to us, the more chance we have of securing them a good future for the rest of their lives.”
If you would like to find out more, visit Adoption in rotherham or call the Adoption Team on 01709 254899.
If you’re thinking about adoption, you should first gather as much information as possible.
By registering your interest with the council, you can gain further information about the process and arrange a visit from a social worker to help you decide if adoption is for you. After completing your Registration of Interest form, you will be asked to complete some supplemental reading and a one-day preparation training session, designed to develop your awareness of adoption, while necessary checks and references are completed. You will then have regular assesment sessions with your social worker and receive further training before a recommendation is made on your suitability.