Opinion with Matthew Munson: A very significant anniversary

Matthew and Bryan

It’s funny, you know; adoption formed such a large part of my family’s life for a significant amount of time, and yet we almost never discuss it now. Not because we don’t like to, but we don’t need to – we are focused on the present and the future, and the past is slowly moving away from us.

But there are moments when we do need to remember what has gone before; this weekend is one of them, as it’s two years to the day since Bryan was legally made a Munson. He had lived with me for six months before then, but it was only when a judge put her signature onto a piece of paper that it changed to me having all the legal rights of a father.

I will remember the moment clearly; the hearing was in the afternoon, although I didn’t attend (it wasn’t close by), so I waited anxiously for Bryan’s social worker to call me. Bryan didn’t really know much about the day; he knew that his social worker and a judge were meeting to talk about him and us, but I kept it deliberately low-key – I didn’t want him distracted, especially if there might be a delay in getting everything signed.

But, at 2.30pm, I had a phone call from Bryan’s social worker; I could hear the smile in her voice as she told me the good news. It was all I could do not to burst into tears, as I was getting ready to go and pick Bryan up from school. I knew that Bryan needed to be the first person to hear the news; I wasn’t going to call anyone else who wanted to know until Bryan had heard it from me.

After I picked him up, my brain was screaming, “Just tell him now!” as we cycled home from school. But, of course, that wasn’t the right moment – but that ten minute cycle ride was the longest of my entire life. When I got home, I asked him to come into the front room, and he looked momentarily worried; had he done something wrong, he wondered? Quite the opposite, I assured him.

That has to be one of the biggest privileges in my life, telling my son such a wonderful piece of news, and I can still evoke the emotions two years later. He wanted to be the one who told his nan and granddad, and it would have been churlish of me to deny him that – so we ended up walking down the road to their house. He burst in and proudly told them what had happened; I knew then (and long before) that he had embraced this life – as I had.

Looking then, I couldn’t ever had predicted what was going to happen over the next two years; a global pandemic changed our view of the world, and I think for the better – it made me more confident as a parent, as I knew that I could deal with so much more, and it showed me what I needed to do and how I needed to act to support Bryan through that time.

When I first decided to become a single dad, I was nervous; this was going to be a big change. But now that I’ve seen it through and got to this place, how can I be anything other than happy? We have things to work on in our future; secondary school, the Teenage Years, becoming more independent, keeping our relationship close and healthy … but, of course, we will deal with them together as a family.

If you had asked me at 25 whether I ever imagined myself as a father, the answer would have been a resounding “no”. I simply couldn’t ever imagine it. I’m glad my view has changed, because I wouldn’t swap the life I have now for anything; my son deserves the best life I can possibly give him, and as much I want to slow time down so I can savour each moment so much more, I also know I have many more moments to experience. Here’s to the future.

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