Opinion with Matthew Munson: Marking two years as a family

Two years of family life for Matthew and Bryan

March is a special month at Casa de Munson; it’s Bryan’s birthday, which is one of the highlights of the year (or so Bryan tells me anyway). But March is also the month when he first came home, in 2019; my life certainly changed forever when that happened.

It’s significant, to be sure; celebrating the day when we first became a full-time family. I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like for a child to leave their foster home behind and be put with someone he has only met a few times before. I’d been checked and interviewed so much during this process – as I should have been – so I was definitely safe, but how could I prove that to my son? By being consistent.

I was nervous too, as I’d never been a dad before. Bryan, however, didn’t need to know how nervous I was; he needed me to be consistent, confident, and caring. I certainly hope I have been caring; I’ve not always felt confident, and I strongly suspect that there have been occasions where I’ve not been entirely consistent.

Life of Bryan and Matthew

However, we gradually got closer together and became a proper family very quickly; I was surprised – and pleased – at how quickly he accepted me as his dad, and how quickly it felt normal. By “it”, I mean the whole thing – family life.

Getting into a routine was key, and school was vital (lockdown was badly-timed, only a year after he came home, but I suspect the world doesn’t revolve around me); he embraced the safety and friendships he received there, and it was delightful to see him grow.

He’s become more emotionally intelligent over the last couple of years, and being the only child meant that he had a lot of focused attention – which can be a good thing and a bad thing when my attention is elsewhere. I’m proud of how he has developed and committed strongly to the important people in his life; he still has positive relationships with his siblings, and their wonderful forever parents, and that reassurance has really calmed him down.

I actually spoke to Bryan about this recently; did he want to acknowledge the second anniversary of his arrival or not? A lot’s happened in these last two years and we don’t often talk about the “adoption” word anymore. In the past, the word loomed large in our vocabulary as we inched towards the day he was legally (as well as emotionally) a Munson; but now we just don’t think about it.

Matthew and Bryan

At the school gates the other day, I chatted briefly to a parent I’d only said “hello” to in passing before. She commented how much Bryan looked like me (which is true) and asked if I was a single dad (as it’s always me or Bryan’s grandparents at the gates). I confirmed that was true but didn’t elaborate – and only realised afterwards that people wouldn’t automatically assume he was adopted just because I’m a single dad. Being a full-time single father is rare, but they do exist, and I love every second of it, and Bryan and I often forget about that word.

To be honest, I don’t often see it as a story of adoption anymore; it’s a story of a father and son. Adoption will always be an important part of our life, because that brought us together, but it’s the start of our family, not the entirety of it. I struggle to remember life before fatherhood; I miss doing marathons and I intend to start them up again eventually, but fatherhood trumps all of it.

2 Comments

  1. This is a beautiful short story of being a single male and an adoptive father. There is no reason why that should not be the case either. Many men have to bring up children on their own and do a brilliant job of it. It is not even a job it is natural to them. The children can thrive with one or two parents but just need someone to love and who loves them, and somewhere they can call home.
    Well done Matthew in being there for Bryan giving him that support in his life.

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