The heartwarming reason this Sheffield man has a tattoo of his parents on their wedding day
Lewis Fletcher describes the day he was adopted as the beginning of his ‘new life’.
The 25-year-old, of High Green, Sheffield, said he owes his adoptive parents everything – which is why he has a huge tattoo of them on their wedding day inked across his chest.
For him, it is a permanent reminder of all his mum Barbara and late dad Brian Fletcher have done for him and his two sisters, whom they adopted at the same time despite already having three birth children.
"I knew Mum and Dad weren't going to be around forever but this tattoo will be with me till I die,” he said.
“It symbolises their life and everything they’ve done for me, and I wanted to get it because I owe them everything.
“When I have children and grandchildren, they’re going to ask about the tattoo and I’ll be able to tell them how lucky I was to be adopted by such amazing people.”
Lewis, who works as a fashion warehouse dispatcher, had what he calls a ‘very difficult upbringing’.
He would not be here today, he said, were it not for his older sister Louise stepping in to look after him as a baby, feeding him and changing his clothes.
He and his sisters were first taken in by Barbara and Brian when Lewis was just 18-months-old.
They were adopted on November 11, 1999 – a date Lewis has etched on his arm – as their adoptive parents could not bear the thought of the trio being split up into different homes.
“That’s the day the papers were signed and I got a new life. For me, it’s more important than my actual birthday, because that’s when I got my new family,” he said.
“I always text Mum on that day and remind her how grateful I am for everything she and Dad have done for me.”
Barbara and Brian fostered more than 100 children together, each of whom Lewis said they treated as if he or she was their own.
He grew used to all the new arrivals during his childhood and, despite all the crying and vomiting proving hard at times, he loved playing with them and babysitting when he was older.
He couldn’t be a foster carer, he admits, because he knows he would grow attached and find it too painful to say goodbye when the time came.
But he is keen to adopt one day because he says there are thousands of children out there in need of loving parents, and not enough people willing to care for them.
Lewis studied sport and public services at Barnsley College before working as an architectural apprentice for around three years, and he now plans to become an interior designer after completing an Open University course.
He had set his heart on joining the Army but suffered a big blow when, having completed all the tests, he was told he had a heart murmur which made him ineligible.
Lewis never told his parents he was getting a tattoo of them before sneaking the wedding photo out of their house and taking it with him to America where he visited a top tattoo parlour in Miami while on holiday to celebrate his 21st birthday.
“It was very expensive but for me it’s definitely worth it,” he said.