We adopted a beautiful little girl – and found the love and support of her lesbian grandparents

Ian (L) with his husband Darryl (R) and their daughter Aspen (C).

When Ian and Darryl decided to adopt a child, they could never have known they would pick up a new set of grandparents along the way.

The Doncaster-based couple were initially nervous when they learned that Aspen, the child they had been matched with, would have an ongoing relationship with her birth grandparents. They worried that the mandated two visits a year could quickly spiral out of control and that boundaries would dissolve.

Thankfully, their fears turned out to be unfounded. Today, Aspen is a happy, playful three-year-old girl who has a beautiful, loving relationship with her two dads as well as her two grandmothers, Karen and Carol – a lesbian couple. All four play a vital role in Aspen’s life, and Ian and Darryl couldn’t be happier that their daughter has extra loving grandparents to fuss over her.

“Both me and Darryl were really nervous about it,” Ian tells PinkNews. “We did talk about it and said, is this the thing that’s going to stop us adopting Aspen?”

Despite their concerns, Ian and Darryl decided to push ahead with the adoption. The first time they met Karen and Carol they knew they had struck gold.

Ian with his daughter Aspen.
Ian with his daughter Aspen. (Courtesy of You Can Adopt)

“There’s just so many similarities between Darryl and I to Karen and Carol, it makes me laugh all the time. They’ll say something and I’m like, ‘That’s exactly how we are.’

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“The bond with them pretty much started from that very first meeting. We were all very, very nervous but we had so many similarities and it was just one of those situations where you just click with somebody and you feel really comfortable.”

Because their bond is so strong, Karen and Carol have become even more involved in Aspen’s life and they now see her at least every two months. 

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“Part of Aspen’s identity is within her grandparents and if she’s got questions that she wants to ask as she gets older and she’s trying to understand the situation better, they will constantly be there to be able to answer those questions that us as adoptive parents would never be able to answer,” Ian explains. 

It’s safe to say Ian and Darryl’s adoption journey has been a success. Ian says they can’t even imagine what their lives would look like if Aspen hadn’t become a part of their family. 

The couple, who first met 10 years ago at a conference in Blackpool, always knew they wanted to have kids, but it wasn’t until they got married in 2019 that they started seriously discussing how they could make that happen.

Darryl with Aspen.
Darryl with Aspen. (You Can Adopt)

In the end, they embarked on their adoption journey in 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. It was a complicated, sometimes challenging process, but things slowly started to fall into place once they were matched with Aspen – and the paternal instinct was there right from the start.

“I remember just thinking that Aspen had the most amazing smile. She was so receptive to Darryl and myself and she just kept smiling. Every time she did it I could feel my heart melt a little bit more and I thought, this one’s got me twisted around her finger, I’m done for life now.”

Ian and Darryl’s adoption journey has been an incredible, life-affirming experience – but they readily admit they would never have been able to do it without the support of friends and family. 

Research from charity You Can Adopt shows just how vital a role friends and extended family play in a child’s life. 39 per cent of parents said they found the support of other parents invaluable when raising their children, while 42 per cent said their child had non-blood relatives they referred to as auntie or uncle.

“I can’t stress enough how important support is,” Ian says. “I do remember when we were going through our adoption process and we were speaking to somebody about it, and they’d had lots of friends who had said, ‘Yeah, we’ll support,’ and then when the children came the support disappeared and then they had to rely on charities like You Can Adopt.” 

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Darryl (L), Aspen (C) and Ian (R) pictured together.
Darryl (L), Aspen (C) and Ian (R) pictured together. (You Can Adopt)

Thankfully, Ian and Darryl have received a wave of support from loved ones. Darryl’s godmother Tina, nicknamed “nanny” by Aspen, has played a vital role, as has their friend Leah, who was able to coach them through the adoption process.

Ian’s advice for would-be adoptive parents is simple: look for support wherever you can find it, whether that’s from loved ones, charities or others out there who have been through the process.

“Yes, be nervous, because nervous is the right way to feel about it because it’s something that is important to you, but have faith that the process will work,” he says.

“You’ll meet other people who will become friends. You’ll have your WhatsApp groups and you’ll be able to have conversations about how much they’ve done in the nappy and it’s disgusting or how much they don’t sleep or how brilliant they’ve been on the trampoline that day. All those conversations will happen and you’ll build friendships. 

“So be nervous but stick to it, get to the end, and start your family the way you want to.” 

Find out more about adoption and supports available from You Can Adopt.

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