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Barnardos Foster: Jason and Tony's Story

This is a sponsored content piece from our amazing fostering and adoption partner Barnardos Australia

My partner Jason and I have been together for 14 years.
We met in Melbourne and hit it off straight away. From probably the very first or second date we talked about family and our desire to have children. I think the conversation started like that because I was adopted when I was five years old. I'd always wanted to be a parent but never thought it would be possible, but then a lot was changing around same-sex partnerships and the ability for same-sex couples to adopt or foster.

Jason also very much always wanted to be a parent. We definitely wanted to go down the fostering/adoption route and when he came across Barnardos, I remember him getting really excited. He ordered the info pack which came in the post – there was no digital in those days. What took us by surprise was that there was a same-sex couple on the front cover.

That was about seven years ago. We were so well looked after through Barnardos from the word go. They kept us updated and informed.
It was a well-constructed journey with all the workshops and training that we did. Even though it took a long time (COVID didn’t help), we never gave up on it. When it did happen for us, it happened at breakneck speed!

I was in the UK with work and about to fly back to Australia on the day the call came. It 5:00 AM in London and they told us that we'd been matched with this little boy. I'm always on time for everything but after that, I was running so late to get to the airport.
Jason and I couldn’t really talk so we were texting each other back and forth. He warned me they’d sent an email and said you’re going to need someone with you when you open it because there were photos in it!

So I remember exactly where I was in the Qantas Lounge when I first saw Connor.
I was in tears and was shaking and then I had to do a non-stop flight from London to Sydney. Having had all this news, it was the most challenging, exciting and stressful flight I've ever done. Connor came to us just before he turned five. And those first three photos we've got on the side of our bed.

At the end of April, it will be two years since he’s been with us and his case has just been approved to go to the Supreme Court for the adoption order. When we first met Connor, his previous carer, who is an amazing lady, said “Oh, you probably don't know, but we've only recently discovered there is a younger brother too. His name is Jacob and he is three years old.”
Once Connor had come to live with us, we had conversations, and he really did want to have his younger brother back in his life. Barnardos is also committed to keeping siblings together. So one day while I was with Connor, having his paediatrician checkup, Jason called me three or four times, even though he knew he knew exactly where I was and I knew something was up. Then I got this message; “Things are happening quickly with Jacob.” I think we all broke records in that Jacob arrived with us five weeks later. And the rest is history.

By that point, Connor had been with us for 18 months. And we'd done a lot of work to really build confidence and trust with him. Although Connor was really excited, you could see there was a slight change in the dynamic now Jacob was here and, to be honest, we’re probably still working our way through some of that.
The great thing in this house is that we have their bedrooms on the same floor and they're identical size-wise as well.
We've also had to colour-code a toy cupboard that sits between the two bedrooms.

They’ve been working their way to get on with each other and I think one of the interesting things was that Connor had acted as a pseudo parent for Jacob in the first couple of years. I remember a conversation where we had to explain to Connor that we were Jacob’s parents and his job was to be his big brother.

It's actually been very good for Connor, and now they get on like brothers do!
We also have a great relationship with their birth grandparents, and we include them as much as we can. Last year the boys’ grandparents on their dad’s side went on holiday with us. We send regular photo updates to their dad. The other day he told us he was just happy that his sons were happy. That meant a lot to us.

Our community and the boys’ school have been amazingly supportive as well. The boys are telling everyone that when they are adopted, the judge will give them a bowl of sweets! The big thing really is the surname change – they’re excited about that too.

Tony, Barnardos foster (soon to be adoptive) parent.

If you would like to learn more about fostering please contact Barnardos here.

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