In honour of International Day of Families (15 May), LGBT+ parents shared their stories with us. First up, meet Raiel and Matt.
Matt is originally from Australia and came to Cape Town in 2010 as part of a secondment. Raiel and Matt met in December 2010, and Matt was meant to return to Australia after two years. But Africa, South Africa and Cape Town won him over and almost nine years later he is still in the Mother City. Raiel and he are now married (December 2016), they own a house, and they’ve settled down with two beautiful boys. Here, they reveal more about their journey and experience of being parents.
How did you start the discussion around having children?
South Africa is much more advanced on the LGBT+ front than Australia, so as a gay couple, options here were easier and actually quite straightforward. Matt’s youngest brother is adopted, so it’s always been part of his story, and a natural selection. We both felt more comfortable going the adoption route, rather than surrogacy (for example). After Matt’s permanent residency was successful and we got engaged in 2015, we started researching our options and decided to choose ProCare as our adoption agency.
What has been the most challenging part of your journey? And the most rewarding?
The process up until meeting your child for the first time is actually quite straightforward, easy and exciting. It’s the red tape afterwards to be recognised as the legal parents and the name and/or surname changes that is the most challenging.
Another big difference when adopting is that you only receive ‘The Call’ after your adoption agency has done all the background work and decided to match you with your new child. You then go in to meet with your social worker to receive all the background and medical information about your child, and that would also be the first time you see a few pictures of them. If you decide to go ahead with the adoption, it’s usually only about five days until you get to meet them for the first time and take them home.
We’ve been extremely lucky in that our sons are biological brothers and from the minute we met them, they both felt comfortable with us and us with them. It felt meant-to-be.
Seeing them grow up and celebrating all their little milestones is probably the most rewarding thing about parenting in general.
Are there any parenting blogs or social media accounts you follow?
We follow some Instagram accounts that share a similar story to us, such as @woodandgraceblog who also adopted siblings. But the most inspirational account is probably @samesexparents, which has posted more than 3,000 posts showing blended and same-sex couples who have gone the route of either fostering, adopting, surrogacy or in vitro fertilisation (IVF). It celebrates families where love comes first – the colour of your skin or the history of your genes doesn’t matter. This Instagram account does its part in showing that ‘Love is Love’, and helps to destigmatise the notion that gay couples shouldn’t have children.
What is the best parenting advice you’ve received?
Just go with it. Children adapt and change. Every child is unique and will grow and reach milestones in their own time.
What advice can you give other parents or potential parents?
Don’t overcomplicate things. We’ve been able to prepare for the arrival of both our sons with only 5 days’ notice, which taught us to have a no-fuss approach and to be practical. It also helped us to not overspend on unnecessary gimmicky items that are so abundant in the retail world of babies.
Keep an eye out for more inspirational conversations with proud parents, and click here to read about Vodacom’s mission to promote inclusion for all!