I had the great privilege of speaking with Gavin Andres, the author of You’re the Daddy We Wanted, a book that chronicles he and his wife’s experiences adopting a pair of siblings out of the UK foster care system.
It is a rare opportunity to get a father’s perspective on adoption in book form. Use the link below to learn how we graded Gavin’s book.
Can’t watch the interview? The transcript follows:
Margie: Hi. I’m Margie Fink with Transfiguring Adoption. Transfiguring Adoption creates media resources to nurture and grow foster and adoptive families. I am here with Gavin Andres, the author of You’re the Daddy We Wanted. Gavin tell us a little bit about the inspiration that you had to write this book, what your purposes were, the motivation.
Gavin: Yeah, my motivation for writing the book was simple really. I just wanted to record the interesting, challenging, but ultimately wonderful process of adopting my two children. It started out as just a project for myself really to write it all down, and then I realized as I got some way through it that this book could be really useful and helpful for other people, especially perspective adoptive fathers, and it went from there really. I’ve noticed that mainly, nearly all books actually written about adoption, especially those written by adoptive parents, were written by women, so i wanted to provide a male perspective on the process.
Margie: Absolutely! That’s one of the things I loved about the book that you can; you
can find all kinds of memoirs from foster and adoptive mothers. They’re pretty
much written by mothers for mothers, and it was so neat to get a male voice, the
male perspective in the process. And like you said, it’s the story of you: your process, how you came to adopt, kind of the going through process and a little bit after the kids moved in. It was interesting to me. You know we’re from the US, and you’re from the UK, so
there’s some things that are similar about our systems, some things that vary a little bit. One thing that I was impressed with a bit was kind of the training that you got. Did you feel like you were prepared whenever you started the process of meeting the children and the children moving in, kind of the challenges of adoption.
Gavin: I’m not sure that one can be truly prepared for the experience you have when you first meet the children and during that early sort of bonding period with them, especially with children having the sort of traumatic background that my two’s family had. But, yes, it’s true. The agency training that we went through was really interesting and as good as grounding as I think you can hope for. There’s nothing like the experience of that first meeting when suddenly these two children that you’ve read so much about in the case notes and everything are there in front of you. Nothing can prepare you actually for oh gosh, what am I actually going to say to sort of try and break the ice a little bit and also knowing as you do what on earth they must be thinking. My children had four different foster carers in about fifteen months, so we were going to be their fifth home in that period. And you know, goodness knows what they must have thought when myself and my wife turned up saying we were their new mummy and daddy.
Margie: Absolutely! What would you say was the most challenging part of the process?
Gavin: It’s all challenging. The most challenging is you know I think what happened
with our story was I think my two children were absolutely on their best behavior for the first
few weeks of our time with them and when they moved into the house, and then I think as they slowly started to trust us, we began to see some of the more challenging aspects of their behavior based on the trauma that they’d had in their early life and actually the trauma that they were still going through coming to live with us. So, we got two different children who that trauma presents itself in different ways. One is very outward with showing that in terms of you know, angry, often directed at my wife and I, and my son is someone who very much regresses into his own shell. His trauma is more internalized, whereas my daughter is more externalized, so it’s certainly challenging all of the time to be honest dealing with that and helping them to come to terms with that.
Margie: Yes! We’ve seen that a lot, and like you said, there is…everyone talks about the honeymoon period. You kind of experience, they are on their best behavior when you first meet them and get to know them, and then as they move in and then you have traumas, trauma triggers, and as they get more comfortable with you, you start to see a lot of those behaviors that are the result of things that they never should have had to go through.
I’m going to change here up a little bit. I talked about what was the most challenging. What was the most rewarding for you of this whole process?
Gavin: Yeah, well, this is the message I want to get across very clearly to anyone listening, particularly to any adoptive fathers who may be listening to me. The benefits are multiple and numerous. You know I just cannot imagine what my life would be without my two wonderful children, and despite the challenges (and we’ve spoken about some of those), the benefits far outweigh those challenges. It’s just seeing them grow up, and it’s seeing them on a day-to-day basis. You know there are days that go by where they’re just my children, and we wouldn’t think of them as adopted. They’re just our kids and you know, they have some of our mannerisms, which is quite interesting and yet clearly they’re learning the values and everything that we have as a family. And you know without adoption, as a route into fatherhood, I’d be with my wonderful wife, but our life would be empty. So I would urge anyone thinking of adoption that this is a very, very worthwhile and rewarding process. You need to put your energies and the effort in, and I think the empathy and understanding into it, but at the end of the day, it’s a wonderful experience.
Margie: Along with that, what is the one thing that you want to communicate to prospective adoptive parents and maybe even as you adopted out of foster care, and there were obviously foster parents that were just foster caring for those kids, is there anything you would like to say to people who just do foster care and to those who are adopting out of foster care?
Gavin: I’llstart by answering that question in relation to foster carers. My experience of the process is that without the wonderful job that the foster carers do, one hates to imagine what the situation would have been like for all these children that you know they’re taken into care often literally overnight in emergency situations, and I guess on behalf of all the children in foster care—you know those in good foster homes—I thank them gladly for the part that they play in the process.
Moving to the second part of your question about what would I say to anyone thinking of adoption from foster care, I would say I’ve just spoken about the benefits of it being a richly rewarding process. I guess I would say think about it carefully. Do research. Speak to people like you and me that have been through the process. That was one of the best things that our agency did. They put us in contact with other local adoptive families, and we went to meet them, saw the kids, saw them, and that was a really good part of the process because it just realized actually that this couple that we met, that they were no different to us. If they could do it, we could do it as well. I guess that ultimately the message would be go for it, whatever the motivation for wishing to become an adoptive parent, whether it’s to you know give a sibling to a birth child that you might already have, if it’s because like us, you just wanted to have children. Period. That’s it. Or maybe it is I guess like many foster parents, it’s just kind of socially doing something good to help kids in difficult situations. Adoption is a route to doing all of that.
Margie: Great! I have to say Gavin I loved your book! It was a book that I got
through…I started in evening, finished it the next morning and just really soaked it in. I found myself identifying with so many parts of it. We had some things that happened right after we finalized adoption of the last two. It was very different from your situation, but I have to say those last 30 pages, people definitely need some kleenex. You hit some snags right there after, you know life threw you some curve balls after finalizing adoption, and we kind of had, you know a job loss and moving across several states and a lot of things that happened right after when we thought, you know, life is stable now, and kind of some of the things that you talked about: worrying about your kids in the challenges of life where we kind of wondered… like really this is something else that they’re gonna have go handle, but in general you know throughout the book, I found myself laughing. I found myself crying. You are very entertaining. You’re a very engaging writer. You know the present tense that you used throughout, it really, really just kind of wraps you in and puts you right there with you going through that process.
Let our listeners know, where they can find your book.
Gavin: Yes, Remind the listeners; the book is called You’re the Daddy We Wanted. My name is
Gavin Andres. It’s available on Amazon. It’s at the moment, it’s a self-published book on Amazon, amazon.com or amazon.co.uk, or you can visit my own website, which is www.adoption-book.co.uk. Or you can follow me on Twitter: @adoptionauthor. The book is available in Kindle edition, and there is a self-publishing option. There is a hard-copy version available. It’s kind of like a print on demand thing that Amazon does.
Margie: We’ll provide links to all that in our blog so that people can get their hands on it, but it is. It’s a great book. I’m going to wrap up here, but is there anything that I didn’t touch on that you wanted our listeners to hear.
Gavin: No, there’s nothing, but i just wanted to thank you very much for your kind words about my book. That was exactly the reaction that I hoped for from people who were reading it. Some of the books that I read when I was going through of the process, some of them were quite theoretical…about attachment theory and that kind of thing. I found them hard going…reading Dan Hughes book, I found quite hard going. I wanted to tell it how it was: the bits that make you laugh and the bits that make you cry. I wanted to thank you for reaction to that, Margie. I