Adoptive father Andrew Melton, 42, did everything the adoption text books suggest prior to adopting his child. He and his partner, Claire, attended an adoptive parents support group for over two years. He participated enthusiastically in the MCFD education program and in the home study process, and he took parental leave when two-year-old Greg joined the family this summer. Despite all this, he wasn’t prepared for what was to come.
He loves his active little boy and says that he claimed him as his son without hesitation. The challenges that Andrew has to battle are wholly related to the rigors of becoming a first time parent. "When you become a parent you really need to know your partner and what you are getting into, not that that really prepares you," he says. "Having a child is much more stressful than I expected; there is a lot of adjustment to it. I have had to discover my role in my new family. Women have a much more natural feel for children. Men often don’t have those same instincts and have to go through a more difficult learning process."
This doesn’t mean he found all that preparation pointless: "We learned a lot about ourselves through the home study. It forces you to look into your own relationship and history. You really must examine your relationship with your partner and be prepared for it to change drastically. When it actually happens [parenthood], it’s 10 times harder than you imagine."
Obviously a sensitive and perceptive man, Andrew is feeling the changes deeply. He and Claire lived together for many years before Greg came home. Andrew did not find the homestudy an unnecessary intrusion or the rigorous ministry education program a hardship. In fact, he wishes that the education sessions had been less rushed and had lasted longer. Now that his family are in the post-adoption stage he would like to see a support group for adoptive fathers where men can freely discuss how to cope with a new type of family life and how to work around the division of household responsibilities.