On Sunday, 17 June families across the county celebrated Father’s Day, but it wasn’t just birth fathers to note the day.

Robert* is one of hundreds of people who have adopted a child with support from Adoption Mid and West Wales - a collaborative of adoption teams covering the four local authorities of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys.

Robert celebrated Father’s Day this year, having adopted with his wife after they struggled to conceive. He has spoken of the ‘privilege’ he feels to become a dad and why he encourages others to come forward and adopt. Here’s Robert’s story.

“So let’s start with a fundamental issue. I will never know how it feels to father a child that is a product of my genes and DNA. My family bloodline stops here. Lots of people have told me in the past that a birth child is a beautiful fusion of your physical characteristics and the ultimate expression of the love a couple has for each other (although the last person to tell me that is now divorced). My wife and I went through fertility treatment in pursuit of this apparent ideal, and in the end the gift the consultants gave to us was their absolute certainty that it was not going to succeed.

“This opened the door to us going down the adoption route, which led to a beautiful 11-month old boy being brought into our lives. He has been with us over a year now, and in all honesty, I see no difference in what I do with my little buddy and what other dad friends do and the joy they share. We laugh the same, muck about the same, cry the same, teach him silly things while mummy despairs. I genuinely believe I feel the same as they do too. I love him with all my heart, would do anything to protect him and want to make sure he grows up to be a healthy and well-rounded human being.

“He is a happy little chap and is developing well. If anything, I feel like he is ahead of children his age (you see, I’m a competitive boasting parent the same). When I come from work and he shouts ‘Daddy’ with his arms outstretched, excitement in his face and joy in his eyes, he certainly doesn’t appear to have any doubts about our bond as father and son. I won’t pretend that this has all been plain sailing, and the fact our marriage has been built on solid foundations helps my wife and I get through tough moments. The ability to laugh together helps a lot too! It is true we are at the start of our adoption journey in comparison to a lot of others out there, and everyone’s experiences are different. There will be difficult moments ahead - that I am sure of - and the knowledge we have gained about therapeutic parenting is being used on a daily basis. There is also so much joy to come too, through watching our little man develop as he shares our interests, values and outlook on the world.

“I certainly don’t feel a sense of loss from not having a birth child, instead I feel privileged to be able to start a family through adoption. I’m sure if I spent too long thinking about all the fundamental aspects of it all I could quite easily wind myself up. But do you know what? I’m having too much fun to care.”

Adoption Mid and West Wales has adoption teams covering the four local authorities aiming to make sure that children grow up as part of a permanent, loving family from childhood through to adulthood.

Ceredigion County Council’s Adoption Services helps find permanent alternative families for children who are currently in temporary foster care. During 2017-18, 29 adopters were approved. These adopters include married couples, unmarried couples, single people and same sex couples. However, there is always the need for more adopters to come forward as demand for adoption placements has increased this year.

Councillor Catherine Hughes, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Culture said: “There are many myths surrounding the criteria needed to adopt a child that simply are not true. The most important qualities in prospective adoptees are their personal characteristics, resilience, insight into a child’s needs and ability to commit to becoming parents, rather than any factors such as employment, housing or marital status. Our friendly staff within the Adoption Services are happy to visit anyone thinking about adopting to have an informal and confidential chat.”

If you’re thinking about adopting and would like an initial discussion, phone 01545 570881 or read more by visiting www.adoptionmwwales.org.uk.