In the penultimate episode in the series, Lotte and Stu are joined by Leon, a single adoptive Dad to a 5 year old. Leon adopted his son a year ago. They discuss Leon’s adoption journey, therapeutic parenting vs.Leon’s traditional Jamaican parenting values and how important his support network is. Lotte and Stu catch up about their plans for a Sylvanian family exchange programme for same sex families.
Full Transcript Below
Leon: And I feel like for a child, that’s how so many moves as well. I don’t actually think he was used to hearing the word now even on the six there, the six home that he’s lived in quite a lot for four year olds. some families have, just one a day, which is me, and Pittsburgh, a little boy. And I always say in our house is you there’s me. And there’s lots and lots of love.
Stu Oakley: Hello, you are listening to episode 19 of series. One of some families listener. You have come so far with us.
Lotte Jeffs: But also for anybody that is just listening and is thinking, Oh yeah, this sounds interesting. Please do go back to the star and listen to some of that. Uh, yeah, so there’s a lot to get through and become so much in the different ways that. LGBTQ plus people are having and starting families.
So there’s so much to learn So please do take a look at some of our earlier episodes.
Stu Oakley: And if you’re listening for the first time, then you won’t know about Lotte and I, and it’s our favourite subject lottery.
Lotte Jeffs: I know we don’t talk about it enough.
Stu Oakley: I will remind the listener that I am Stu Oakley. I am an adoptive queer father of three.
Lotte Jeffs: And I am Lotte chats and I am a mum to a little girl who is about to turn two this month, actually.
Stu Oakley: What have you got planned?
Lotte Jeffs: well, um, I mean, it’s another look down birthday, isn’t it. So it’s going to be super low key and, she’s already asking for cake, so they would just definitely be take, we, we actually, had a friend.
My daughter’s recently. And he also has two mums, which is really nice. So, we’re making sure that our daughter has lots of friends with different kinds of families. And it’s really nice that she can relate to, a friend that’s ha she also has two moms, but so for his birthday present, I got him.
since Sylvanian families, I got him the cat Sylvanian family, but what I did was I. Well, who Sylvanian family families. And I removed the Fanta from the Sylvanian family Katz, and I took the mother from the other packet and I basically customized my friends. So venue and family say that it had a cat mums and Alyssa baby cats.
Boy. So now Stu I have for you. She CA dads,
Stu Oakley: I am dying with excitement right now because I do exactly the same because Sylvanian families are, have always been a dream of mine ever since we even thought about having children. I got most excited about Sylvanian families because as a queer little boy, it was my favorite thing in the world.
So it was.
Lotte Jeffs: yes. Against you. We discovered something else we have in
Stu Oakley: I know.
Lotte Jeffs: I was an avid Sylvanian family collector
Stu Oakley: I love it because we should just start some kind of some families exchange program for gays and lesbians to swap out the other mothers.
Lotte Jeffs: so this week on some families, we have got Leon who is a single adoptive dad, from Sheffield, but he now lives in London.
Stu Oakley: Leon adopted his gorgeous little boy only a year ago. but what, uh, get you been, go out what a journey they’ve been on through that time. we got to catch up with Leon and talk to him about everything he’s been through on his adoption journey and how he’s dealt with it.
Being a single adoptive father as well.
Lotte Jeffs: Yeah, it was really great to chat to Leon. I really enjoyed it and he is such an amazing dad. have a listen and we’ll catch you at the end to discuss.
So hello and welcome to some families. Leon, tell us a bit about yourself. If you don’t mind.
Leon: Of course. Hi guys. My name’s Leon I’m 41 years old. I’m from Sheffield originally and live in London. And I’m a single adopter.
Stu Oakley: So was adoption, always the option for you when it came to parenting?
Leon: Yeah. I’ve always wanted to, it’s always, it’s really weird. I think since I’ve been. mid to late teens, I’ve always wanted to adopt. I never really knew I could back then. but it was just always something that was in me. and I think over the last, I’d say five to 10 years, I’ve really been proactive and planning for this moment.
So it’s definitely, I’ve always known I wanted to do it, but I’ve just put the wheels in motion over the last five, 10 years.
Lotte Jeffs: Did that sort of affect your dating life when you were younger?
Leon: It’s really weird. I always saw myself as a I’m single now. So myself as a single parent, I always wanted to on my own, You say it was never like a conscious thing because knew that it would be that way.
Stu Oakley: So you’ve been thinking about it for, for quite some time. What was the, the final moment where you decided to contact the agency or local? Authority and say, this is it. I’m ready. I want to start now.
Leon: The apartment, my renovation was finished. I was all right, that’s it. I mean, I bought my house. It was a, it, wasn’t a great statement to say. but I’ve got a strong vision and I knew, well, I went to the house for, um, and it was I’m going to have nightmare builders. It was just a drama, like kid really was not a nice experience.
I was living here during the renovation services, complete chaos dust. Oh God, we’re not going to, but we’ll not get started on that. Cause I was, but the minute that that was done, I knew I was having this next chapter. So it was just the next, the next phase, I guess.
Lotte Jeffs: So Leon, when you were, when you had in your head that you were going to adopt, and I guess this is just a question for all adopters I’m interested in is do you have an idea in your head of the child that you’re going to adopt or do you have to really work hard to not have that idea in your head?
So you can be open minded to what ever presents itself to you?
Leon: the good thing about adoption is you can be quiet, specific in terms of the type of child that you want. And also what you’re, what you’re able to deal with. It’s really interesting. Cause my little one is the complete opposite of what I had in my head. I wanted, age-wise background wise, Everything.
If I’m honest, I wanted much younger cause if you have a younger child, then they will go quicker and you’ll be all they know. So I just thought if I have like a five year olds, they can remember quite a lot and it might be quite helpful, I guess maybe depends on each child, but it’s definitely not a one.
One half is old and I hate using that phrase, but that’s kind of, the applied is so much during adoption. Everyone’s story in journeys is different. I wouldn’t say that I’d say about 12 to 18 months old initially. And I go, four year and three months old. So.
Stu Oakley: I must say that’s quite a common thing I’ve experienced through, you know, my own adoption journey and the people that I’ve met. I think so many people go in with. An idea and then it completely changes. And I think the training you go through and the people that you meet, help inform that decision.
And then of course the matching process. but then you come out of it with something that you, you could never imagine really that in terms of the magical thing that is parenting.
Leon: Well, that’s what the social worker said. She said, you know, when you’re on link maker, which I know is a website, You find your perspective children. She said, you know, when you, when you see your child you’ll know, and there’s actually one, one child that I saw. And I thought, Oh, you know, I can see him in my house. I guess he could pass to my kid. And. I always feel like you could probably almost like you want to try and make yourself, like, when I live with the first child that I think is kind of, okay, it’s just Cindy. Cause it shouldn’t be that type of decision, but where it says a thing you want to do for such a long time, I want you to prove and it’s okay.
And there’s time to, you know, Randy Charles, so to speak. I don’t know about other people, but I really felt like an overwhelming, like fresh and not from anybody else, or I need to find it out now. And so there’s one that I thought, okay. But I never really, but in hindsight, that spark wasn’t there, but then I came across my little boys.
Oh my God. But I just knew I was thinking nothing about his background, which was a game changer in terms of, again, it was the opposite to why, so I could deal with, multiple moves, including a broken down adoption.
Severe substance abuse in utero. So again, those were all things I didn’t want to really deal with, but I guess once I received the CPR and got to find out his story, I was just like, this is my, my son got this, you know,
Stu Oakley: I can completely relate to that. It’s a link maker is a very strange experience and you go through so many different emotions of feeling that you’re may saying no to a child. And then you’re wondering if you’re letting the, the right child go. And, but then as you say, when, you know, I think, you know, and when you see a profile that hits you in the heart, that’s what really helps inform that really, really difficult decision to move forward.
And just taking a little step back from that did you, when you were looking into adoption, how was your experience with using a local authority?
Leon: Mine was amazing. I think I’ve spoken to a few adoptive parents. I think mine was super quick compared to most, I mean, for me picking up the phone literally and what I’m interested in being adoptive parents and me being matched with my son, he was literally 12 months from initial call. How do I give it about.
Filling out some forms, like what do I do too? Okay. This is your child.
Lotte Jeffs: Is it, and forgive my ignorance about the adoption process here, but is it any harder or easier as a single person to adopt?
Leon: I would have no, I know that it was really good. So for example, I started to do at a work placement and like a stay in place and it’s like a nursery type place and just one day a week for about four, six months.
I remember They wouldn’t get to do much interacting with the kids one to one. but I guess I knew that that would look good. When I then went to panels and things like that, I made sure that we’re kind of set up so to speak. So it kind of made the process easier.
Lotte Jeffs: Yeah. So that’s reassuring for anyone listening that is single and is thinking about it. Adopting that it’s not, you know, there’s not this sort of heteronormative pressure to be in a couple or to be married, for example.
Leon: I think I’m, again, I did my research. I went to three open days and all were very different. Um, and I kind of got a good understanding of. No say the criteria and the requirements, and there’s never been a focus on being straight or being in a relationship So I never felt, you know, am I not to be matched with a child? My. preference because of my sexuality or the fact that I’m single and that, that never really came into my mind. To be honest, I have spoken to people who have felt that they haven’t been matched with a child because they are gay and the social worker may have had, issues with that.
But that didn’t, that didn’t really affect me. I, and I will say, I think it’s really key. If you go move your social worker, I had a fantastic relationship. She left just. After I was mashed in place about the parcel of good, but she was amazing. She really got me. so, so important.
Stu Oakley: What was the for you? The, most difficult thing about their early stages of the process and the training, et cetera.
Leon: I’m going to say the process was quite intrusive, but not in a bad way. they obviously wanted to know, uh, every house that I’ve lived in from birth, every. Person that I’ve dated. but at the same time, it wasn’t bad. I was like, all right, come done. Like info process.
In terms of the training, the training was really good.
Stu Oakley: Yes. You’ve got stage one. Haven’t you where you kind of, yeah.
Leon: so I’ll just find him. I kind of come back. I kind of just read through them. I didn’t, it was quite easy. Like I think that’s the, that’s why I wanted to kind of share my story as well. A lot of people that I’ve spoken to seem to take a pill, it takes ages and it takes years and not really do your research go to a few open days.
And then just go through the processing. there. There’s so much information online to read about each stage. looks like, and social workers always go through that. So, it was, it was, it was a bit of a breeze. If I’m honest,
Lotte Jeffs: Could you talk a bit Leon, about the first time that your son came home with you and stayed with you. And this was like, this is it. This is your bedroom. how did you feel?
Leon: if I can take it back into the bit. I do feel like his social worker kind of, I felt very responsible for the breakdown in the previous adoption I think, cause it had so many, moose They wanted to make sure that they got it right this time.
I was actually having weekly FaceTime with them even before it was up to the approved I felt really confident from the get go anywhere else, like, yeah, I’ve got this. And then when he came to meet me at the station it was really weird. Like, Oh my God, his hair, like your suitcases is, is it? Yeah. So they’ve got like a taxi back to my place. And he was quite apprehensive because bless them. He was there settled to where he was even on the six there, the six home that he’s lived in quite a lot for four year olds. So I felt really guilty for kind of taking him away from. What he knew is his home. but the minute he saw his room, of course he loved it. it’s quite a beautiful experience. I filmed him up putting upstairs to his room and just like just being an or, and it was, it was a nice, it was a really nice moment.
Lotte Jeffs: Has it been difficult to, to try to kind of explain to him that this is your forever home now? Like, do you feel that he’s still sort of expecting to be taken away at at
Leon: No, he he’s his style. I think he sold pretty quickly. I always reassure him anyway. I always still say it. I feel like you can never reassure too much, a little too.
Children’s specialty ones. I’ve had so many moves. Saying that he knows this is his home. And always speak about growth is like a loft conversion as well. So say, you know, you’re 16, you can go with that. I’ll make it really cool. That’s going to be a big one bedrooms. I do speak about the future. So he knows, okay, this is how I make plans, a future holidays and stuff like that.
So he. He sets all that. There’s one thing that keeps on cropping up and you know, why, why not go mum or I can’t go and stay with my mom coming to FaceTime. My mom, have you got her number, but there’s a lot of questions it’s really weird that there’ll be like a period of not mentioning for a couple of months.
And then it will be mentioned everyday for two weeks. That can, that I kind of struggle with
Lotte Jeffs: How do you deal with them?
Leon: I stick to my script, which again, it comes back to that. It’s not another one half. It’s all. I think they’re not doing his parents, but he’s really intelligent and quite assertive. So he does ask a lot of questions.
So what might work for one child? It doesn’t always work for another set, a script, so to speak is what my being told to say, which you think know, you do have a mommy, she just couldn’t keep you safe and a captive properly, you know, people try to help like after you. but unfortunately she wasn’t able to do it.
so social security wanted you to be somewhere where you were safe, um, and they could have been to look after you and can keep you safe and protected. He gets the example. What, what, what did she do that? Why, why did you keep you saying, what was it that she did that information? It’s just like, it’s just not is my enough, but they always say stick with it.
repetition is really, really good at really, really sang show and for kids his age, but then obviously as he gets older, I’ll give him more information. One thing bad, got kids get now. And he’s amazing. He said, didn’t get in years gone by as a life story. literally his is like, So the end of the pages is so thick.
It’s amazing. Honestly, there’s even stuff in there that I wasn’t aware of. There’s pictures of everywhere that he’s lived, like birth family and birth mom in the hospital that was born in the house that literally no stems and terms. And I think this is so important for children because, you know, years gone by, people didn’t even know there were adults.
And so they’re in their teens, if at all, or until their parents had died. And I, I feel like. The more open you are with your children in situations like this. And the more you normalize it, the more you welcome those conversations, it’s just, it’s what it is. Then it doesn’t become such a taboo.
Lotte Jeffs: Does he like looking at that book?
Leon: I thought he’d liked looking at him more. He just likes to look at myself And I, and that’s fine. I, you know, I don’t push anything. He knows where he’s just not, it’s not hidden. I’ve always had to edit it. You can, it’s like a binder, so you can take pages out. And so I will take it out a lot.
I just kept it quite basic for now. And as the years go on slowly add to it’s really, really good. It’s really well done.
Stu Oakley: we’re, we’re editing our life books because it sounds like yours was, uh, was in a good shape, ours wasn’t and that, and there’s a lot of ours was basically filled with like, what was number one on the day you were born and things like and there’s big pictures of Adele and it just, it just,
Lotte Jeffs: How confusing is.
Stu Oakley: it’s, it’s interesting hearing you speak as well, because your son’s five, correct. So my daughter’s four. So I feel like we’re like the year behind you and what potentially I’ve got to come because she she’s only just started, I would say, in the last few weeks being really, you know, talking a lot about.
Um, when I was, when I was a baby or when I did, and I think it’s in relation to her younger brothers, and seeing what they’re doing, and she will often say, Oh, when I was a baby, I would use to do this. Didn’t I, and kind of asking us the question and it’s, and it’s, it’s challenging and it’s challenging to come up with the right kind of responses what age was your son when he last saw his birth mother?
Leon: T two and a half, I think.
Stu Oakley: Yeah. So it’s a similar, similar story, and that’s why I’m interested into what will be the conversations that we have when she starts to get more curious.
Leon: I think it depends. I mean, if you don’t mind me asking you how she had a lot of moves or was it.
Stu Oakley: she had, we were her third move.
Leon: Depends on what they remember as well. I think we’ve been through trauma, their memories. They usually look sharper, but honestly his memory is insane. if there’s something specific that he can really give you like top level detail.
sometimes I feel like when they moved a lot, like he’s quite hypersensitive about things. stuff like smells and things can not really trigger. Trigger stuff inside them. I’ve met a couple of friends that I’ve got kids and they’re not the same. So I think again, it’s that it’s not one half,
when you’re doing a lot of the training as well, that’s not, that’s what you’re led to believe, but I think, I dunno know, I just found there’s, there is a room for flexibility, whereas sometimes it seems like it’s quiet, like this, this, this, I think there’s a lot of group flexibility.
Lotte Jeffs: Where did you kind of get your parenting style from, do you think.
Leon: Good question. I’m glad you asked this. So I’m from a, a Jamaican family. My parents are both from Jamaica, so, and their quiet, I think I was bought up in quite a traditional. Home in terms of values and how you brought up is very different to what we were taught in the process. It’s all about therapeutic parenting.
And some of it just sounded a bit like fluffy at times. If I’m honest, I just thought in my mind, I’m the parent, my son is my child and you know, I am. I’m not saying that my upbringing other way that the traditional Caribbean way is the best way, but there’s definitely more kind of boundaries in places.
A lot more firmer then the whole kind of therapeutic style which we’re taught. And I think for me and a couple of gay doctors of color, especially that I’ve spoken to. They struggle with that as well, because it’s completely different to our default parenting, you know, and that is just somebody to date them.
And I’m speaking to a prep group next week. I will be speaking about cultural differences. It’s a flat thought, but it is different. And I do. What I sometimes feel myself getting into by default parity, I do kind of switch on my therapeutic brain, but essentially, you know, kids need boundaries. And I think that needs to be that needs pride and environment where there’s firmness, but fairness.
And I feel like for a child, that’s how so many moves as well. I don’t actually think he was used to hearing the word now And because. I moved around quite a lot because of this story, I think much like that heart and India. Exactly. So I feel about when you can hear it was just a whole
different farmers have different roles, but in our family, this is how we do. two, this time I’ve been quite consistent. I’ll be quite strict to quite old school, but at the same time, Nope, we’ve got a well behaved child and he’s lovable and he’s warm and he’s just gorgeous.
And I know the all boundaries. they’re their help, you know,
Stu Oakley: What is your, I mean, on that subject,
what’s your support network in like, especially as a, single dad, do you have, support from your parents and from people around you?
Leon: Yeah, I’ve got some great family and friends. is actually a really good group on Facebook called single adopters UK, which honestly, it’s amazing. So shout out to the guys on that group.
I find it’s just. Should really good. Like if you’re in a situation and again, when you’ve got your friends, who’ve got their birth children, it’s quite different. Sometimes you need a community of people, who get it. And you might say, look, I’ve got a really shitty day today. This has happened. Has anybody dealt with this?
And within about 10 minutes, you’ve got an 18 people yet. This is what you do. What happened to me last week? I did this or his check, this link. I really find it useful. And it’s just a thank you so much. It’s so useful. The other thing that I would change is if. You know, some days you want a little self care I need just those day or a day where you start in my car. I need, I need some time out.
Like, mom, I’m coming over in 10 minutes when we drop him off and I do my thing. So that’s the only thing that I would change.
Lotte Jeffs: what about your friends? Were any of your, particularly, I guess like gay male friends, surprised that you wanted to adopt or not supportive in any way?
Leon: Nobody was not supportive. I think it’s something that, as I said, I’ve wanted to for a long time. So there’s always been in my plan. a lot of my friends just left London in the UK.
my kind of nearest and dearest, they all kind of went off to do their thing, but I knew that that wasn’t my debt I knew I wanted to do everyone that, all my friends, like, I can’t believe like, you know, you intermittently speaking about this for years and look, you know, you’ve actually got into existence so that everyone’s been super supportive. Nobody has not been supportive at all.
Lotte Jeffs: For people like Stu who are gay dads, PLU, when their adoptive children come into the family, that’s kind of a more obvious indicator that they are gay. And there’s two men with you. Obviously you’re a single dad, so it’s not immediately obvious that you’re gay to a child that’s coming into your home.
Have you broached the subject of sexuality with your son and is it important at this stage and how will you talk about it in the future?
Leon: No, I’ve not spoken about it. I mean, I think, you know, he’s five. So when he’s, like I said, no out of Mary and she could be my mommy and I said, Oh good. How are you, man? I mean, I’ve given it an example of, a friend locally. Who’s got ’em. Twins me with his husband. And I said, well, you know, they’ve got two daddies and you know, there’s another, um, , she’s not a doctor.
She’s heterosexual, but she’s on her own So he’s got a good concept. Now, what different families look like? I’ve got a friend who married gay couple and he they’re both his uncles and he’s, I was with them overnight before when they’d my babies up for him. And he knows that they’re married and they love each other.
So, you know, when the conversation arises and it’s necessarily it’s appropriate, but I’m not going to get into, that with a five year old just yet. If he, if he asks me, I mean, I think he knows that if he’s going to have two parents, one probably would be two dads, I’m not going to go into the detail per se, but I think he gets it.
Stu Oakley: and do you have any books or children? Those books that the year that you have, that you read to him, et cetera.
Leon: I have my, his, the library is amazing after say it’s quite diverse. One thing that I did struggle with, I must say, but it didn’t help when he was asking about mom and not having a mom and you know, all the books that we read, we would be like in a Caucasian families, 2.4 kids, cat dog code. Yes. And it was just a bit like.
It made my job a lot harder because I’m telling you my, normally isn’t, everyone’s got a different family, but the books that we were reading, we’re not diverse. So again, and kids are very visual by age. He loves books. so, during a lockdown, I wrote my own children’s book easily based on our adoption journey.
It’s quite interesting. Cause I think that the emphasis is to normalize diversity from a young age. So I thought it was at least the base on our journey. Like the single man wanting a child and adopting him also speaks about his friends in the book. I’ve got a different family. One of them is their grandparents wanting to Betsy mom.
So it, again, the theme, which is literally repeated it’s okay to be different. Everybody’s different. And that’s okay. So this book isn’t just for a single parent. Or anybody who wants to have a, a diverse book in their kids’ book collection should get every parent. So even if you’re, you know, upper middle class, Caucasian finding a wealthy area to have this book of a black boy in his black dad, and he’s adopted him, why would y’all
Lotte Jeffs: How can we get you a book?
Leon: I’m self publishing. but I’m a super positive about it. It’s so important to have
Lotte Jeffs: Amazing. I want to ask about, how you, something that Stu and I have talked about is the kind of like Cliche straight mother and baby groups and being anything other than the expected. So of white heterosexual, mum and baby, how that can feel sometimes as the sort of most different person in the room.
Is that something that you experienced at all?
Leon: No. I think I’m quite, I’m quite niche. I think I’m a single black gay adopters, everyone by me, usually it’s really positive. , obviously because of his age and I haven’t really, there’s like local things. The power Corp pays them to type things, but I just kind of thought I didn’t have any. Kind of buying into all that.
I think I will, sorry. I mean, I’ve been because see, they got, and I’m sure you can relate to like the gay dogs in this kind of crop up on Instagram with that year. but I’ve, um, not no that by the way, but I always feel like, you know, just because my gay dads, it doesn’t mean that we’re not, we’re going to get on.
And I think there is this kind of like false kind of community or, you know, this tribe, and then it’s good that you can have other people in your network or share your experiences and, and then you get it cause it’s different, you know?
Mmm. But yeah, I found that. First of all. I think everybody on Instagram and with the keyed, but now I’m just like,
Lotte Jeffs: I do get that. Yeah. It’s kind of like a. You know, as a minority, you’re sort of, you’re just forced to get there with the rest of your minority. And there’s an expectation that you, that that’s enough. And I think that it’s, it’s, it’s great to be able to have those, those kinds of conversations, but you’re right.
We need to get to a point where there’s, there’s so many of us that chili with dinner, minority community, we can cheers who we connect with and who we don’t, you know,
Stu Oakley: to be fair on the other side as well, you do have, I have, I’ve got a lot of straight female friends that have been forced together with their NCT group members and have been out for coffees with them. And we’ve just come back and being like, why am I talking to these women?
Lotte Jeffs: So Leon we’ve, we’ve got a character on our show called aunt Sally, who is basically like. The person that you might meet at, I don’t know, a school function or a barbecue, or she’s a friend of a friend or she’s someone’s random aunt. And she just asked you the most inappropriate, offensive, big question.
but perhaps you means well, but you don’t necessarily take it like that. Have you had an aunt Sally moment and would you be happy to share it with us?
Leon: Mmm. on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, there’s somebody that I used to work with. He doesn’t live in the UK anymore sometimes things can be misconstrued, but I just think it’s how we articulated it right there. Appreciate it. So we’ll talk to you and he’s got three kids he’s he’s straight.
And he said, so you know how you’re raising your son, raising him to like girls or to like guys So I said, first of all, that sounded the media educated, um, quite dumb. I said, end of the day, he’s five. So I started not raising him to like anybody. I said, you know, first and foremost, he’s a child.
And I raised him in a household with lots of love. And I think for now love about Jesus. All he needs. I mean, I said it’s, I’m good. He told me, I said, I’m not doesn’t mean that, but you obviously you’re gay. You’re a really cool guy in such a good role model. Like I just thought it was really dumb. And again, I don’t, I don’t think he meant. Well, maybe he did. I’m not sure if I just don’t, it just doesn’t, it’s kind of winding up, but I didn’t hold on to, because I know he’s a cool guy
Lotte Jeffs: Hmm, it sounds to me like you. A hundred, that incredibly elegantly and yeah, very, very well. I think that that was brilliant response.
Leon: Yeah, but it depends on who it is. Thank you for someone that I didn’t know. And I can’t believe they character, then it would be a different story,
there’s an insane, do you biology that I remember, we were on the beach, not me, not see this couple around quite a lot. So it was apparent that it was just me and my son on a holiday together. and he’s a big chatterbox.
So, no, it was just trying to get my peace and quiet, my chilling Southern worship in that he likes, gets to the sun lounge and proceeds to have a conversation with the woman behind me. She like, Oh, you said you, and you know, how many of you here for when you know, when is your mom? Cause I’ve not caught mom.
And she’s like, Oh, how come like this? Like, what are you doing? Like, why would you say, Oh, why don’t you say, how come like he a child? Why are you even making him think that is abnormal by that response? So I just kind of look to those to say like, really? And then I’ve just got that and they just kind of shut the conversation down.
Lotte Jeffs: Good for him.
People just don’t think, do they? They just say the first thing that comes
Leon: again, I think, I’m sure it wasn’t meant to be offensive. Maybe she was just curious, but again, to a child,
Lotte Jeffs: Yeah. No. Okay.
Leon: just don’t go there, know.
Lotte Jeffs: well, I, it seems like very general. You’ve been very generous in your, um, responses to aunt Sally in both in both occasions.
Stu Oakley: what you see as the future. I mean, are you, would you ever consider adopting again or would you ever think about growing your family or do you feel right now that is the two of you and also just future relationships as well. How you see that potentially.
Leon: So I have no plans to adopt again. if I met somebody and they had a child, fantastic. If I met somebody and, my circumstances were different and, and we had the finances, And I can make again on a vet then I wouldn’t rule it out, but for now I’m super happy with me and my little wrong in terms of relationships.
And I’m not actively looking. I was to meet somebody, they would have to be really amazing. They’d have to really. Wow. various ways because I’ve, you know, I’ve got a nice home. I’ve got my son, I’ve got these two job. Like I’m happy. I’m, I’m, I’m comfortable.
I’m content, anybody that I meet needs to be amazing, or it’s just, it’s just no point. I’m all good.
Lotte Jeffs: I love that criteria.
Stu Oakley: what advice would you give to other single parent adopters, male or female out there and kind of on that same kind of question? what do you wish you’d known then that, you know, now.
Leon: I’ve asked I was pretty prepared, so I knew what I was getting myself into. There’s been no major shockers. I did underestimate how intensive from being with a single parent, especially when you’re on your family, on, in the same city. make sure your support system is super strong. I, all these offers a babysitters, making sure that the network is super, super, super strong.
Think about rest by thinking about people locally, who you can’t do that I think to drop him or her off for an hour, two hours or five hours. Why do X, Y, and Z, that needs to be there because it is very, very intensive single pattern, especially during this look on periods and, um, It can be very, very challenging if you haven’t got that support.
in terms of why me, why I wish I’d have known, I guess it’s more or less the same, just how intense it can be. so just maybe prepared myself a little bit more. Well, the intensity, well, other than that has been amazing. Just how I imagined it.
So some families have, just one a day, which is me, and Pittsburgh, a little boy. And I always say in our house is you there’s me. And there’s lots and lots of love.
Lotte Jeffs: yeah, again, we speak to somebody who I wish without their sounding too weird.
Stu Oakley: So we’re just unpicking loads of daddy, daddy scenarios for you
Lotte Jeffs: Yeah, sorry, but no, my point is Leon seems like he really has. She said screwed on. Ann’s doing a brilliant job looking after his five year old son. And I have got so much respect for him as a single dad, particularly during this time when there’s so much pressure on parents to try and juggle work and childcare.
And it must just be really hard if there’s one of you. I’ve read something recently. I think it was in the New York times by a single parent, he was saying that they really took umbrage with the fact that single parent had, was often described as a really difficult thing and a challenge and aunt parents really, these amazing kind of martyrs and warriors for doing what they’re doing and.
And the single parent was writing a piece saying, you know, actually this was my choice and I’m really happy and it’s, it’s great. And there’s, there’s not such sort of positive language around single parent. And I think people like ed Leon really, you know, do you bring that positivity to single parent?
And it didn’t make it seem like something that’s absolutely achievable and it’s a choice and it’s okay. I really respected that.
Stu Oakley: It was always his dream from such a young age, too. To go it alone and just be this amazing father and to adopt. And I, because that’s such a positive and affirming way to look at it as opposed to the stereotypical view of a single parent is someone who’s probably been through a bad breakup or has got themselves into that situation somehow.
And. And it does have very negative connotations around the fact. So, you know, speaking to Leon, speaking to Holly earlier in the series as well, it is just. Amazing speaking to these incredible role models for the being single parents. And hopefully will encourage a lot more people who are maybe nervous about going it alone and nervous about how they’d be able to cope.
But I think as we’ve experienced through speaking to different people, you know, you do cope and you can manage it. And it is fine and lightly uncertain as long as you’re prepared. Then, you know, you can, you can achieve anything.
Lotte Jeffs: I would say really liked his criteria for meeting a potential partner, which is they’ve got to be lemon. Amazing. which I think is. like a brilliant, kind of filter in terms of data. Like they’ve just got speak, right.
Stu Oakley: Especially if you know, his, his little one has been through so much that it’s going to have to take someone incredibly special to come and potentially, you know, upheave that, or, or change it , and again, going back to the way we think about things, why should he, you know, there’s no reason he ever actually has to, you know, as a society, again, culturally, we always put on that somebody needs to be with somebody else, like.
Lotte Jeffs: Hmm. Yeah, it’s weird. Isn’t it? That two people about than one person that’s, you know, as Leon said, which I thought was brilliant, it’s you? Me and a whole lot of love.
Stu Oakley: I do love that. And I think that is such a nice way of describing it as well. So talking to Leon has also made me think, you know, if you are out there as a single adopter or if you’re in a couple then, and you’re thinking about starting a family and you’ve been listening to this podcast, I had a wonderful chat this week with Michael and Wes, who are two dads.
who we spoke to in an early episode, the series go back and have a listen if you haven’t already because their surrogacy journey, is incredibly interesting. And I learned so much about surrogacy through them. They have set up a. A wonderful modern family show, which is going to be taking place in London, which is going to be lots of exhibits of how you can become a queer parent through surrogacy or adoption or co-parenting.
And there’s gonna be loads of experts, loads of different people there. we’re going to put some details in the show notes. If you’re interested in becoming a queer parent, then, then do have a look and see if you want to come down.
Lotte Jeffs: sounds brilliant.
Stu Oakley: It does. And I think things like that are really exciting because it’s also a chance for people to get together and meet with one another and have those conversations in real life, which I don’t think we get as much, especially now in lockdown.
and hopefully everything will be well and good by September that everything will be going to plan with the show
Lotte Jeffs: and if you’ve got anything else that you’d like to get in touch with us about these, do we love hearing from you our email? Some families story, hunter.co.uk.
Stu Oakley: Yep. And you can find us at Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at some families pod, and we really hope you’ve enjoyed our conversation tonight with Leon
next week will be our series finale of series one.
Lotte Jeffs: What will I wear
Stu Oakley: Oh, what will I drink?
Lotte Jeffs: my pajamas and a Negroni done.
Stu Oakley: Oh, nice.
Lotte Jeffs: Steve, it’s been a pleasure as always and at home. Thank you so much for listening. Goodbye.
Stu Oakley: goodbye.