Opinion with Matthew Munson: A year of firsts

The latest journey for Matthew and Bryan

When you have a child, there is always a year of “firsts”. Bryan and I have experienced that in a different way – in the past 18 months, we have had the first anniversary of Bryan moving home, going to school, as well as his first birthday, first Christmas, and so on.

This week, we had the final “first” celebration in our family; on Friday, we celebrated a year to the day when a judge sat down in her courtroom and signed a piece of paper giving me full parental rights for Bryan. I will remember that day for the rest of my life; having the privilege of telling Bryan, when he get home from school, that he and I were bound together forever – without any way of differentiating ourselves from any other family; we were going to be as odd and as different as any other family, just when he wanted to be normal.

The word “adoption” has practically fallen entirely from our vocabulary. We no longer think about it – in fact, we’ve both forgotten about it on a regular basis. The other day, I was with Bryan at the school gates as he waited to go in one day, and one of his friends came to join us; this friend joined the school pretty recently, and clearly didn’t know about Bryan’s past. Bryan’s friend asked me – in the genuinely innocent way that children have – where Bryan’s mum was. I explained that I was a single dad, so Bryan just had me as his parent, and the boy looked genuinely confused; he couldn’t understand where Bryan came from, and it took me a second to formulate even a sensible answer. Bryan just shrugged his shoulders; he wasn’t particularly bothered by having a single parent or by being adopted, and as far as he was concerned, daddy was just being truthful.

Life has indeed become normal; he walks straight into his nan and granddad’s house without a backward glance, and he pulls away when I try to give him a hug as he runs into school with his friends and immediately forgets I’m even there. Entirely normal, and “adoption” isn’t a concept we think about any more. Bryan occasionally thinks about the fact I’m a single dad, and once asked why I was parenting solo, but it doesn’t seem to have come across his radar. Life has become very, very normal – at least, normal for us.

Teaching Bryan how to be moral and emotionally intelligent is hard; he has an in-built moral centre that it’s a pleasure to help cultivate, but emotional development is a whole different kettle of fish. Helping him feel comfortable with his emotions is difficult. Can I show him that this is okay, to open up and express an opinion? It’s tough, but maybe one day I’ll succeed.

I love that we are a family, and we are no different to any other; that is, unique. There are other children who are adopted at Bryan’s school, and it doesn’t feature on their radar either; because their parents are honest and don’t make a fuss. Life is just fun, and now the firsts really are all over, we are aiming for the future.


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