Matthew Munson: Marking three years as a family

Matthew and Bryan

Think back over the last three years, to the start of 2019. A lot’s happened since then, it’s fair to say; Covid, Brexit, war in Ukraine … they are the major eruptions that have mingled in with the everyday moments of our lives. Living through a period that children are going to be studying at school in the future is slightly disturbing, but you have to take the rough with the smooth, I suppose.

Three years ago, in March 2019, something else happened. I started sharing my life with a small human being, having spent the previous year or so being vetted as a prospective adoptive parent. My son turned up (with his foster carers) on the 16th March 2019 (it was a sunny Saturday afternoon), and my life has never been the same since; neither has his, it should be said.

We’ve now had three full years living together, and who would have expected that – virtually a year to the day after he came home – that a national lockdown would have begun? Having spent the first year establishing routines and familiarity, lockdown began a new process of routines and familiarity for both of us; I ended up changing jobs, Bryan had six months of home learning, and we both had the opportunity to spend a lot more time together; for me, that was a privilege.

I was first aware of Bryan many months before he came home (although he didn’t know about me until everything was settled and confirmed; it wouldn’t have been fair on him otherwise, in case it didn’t work out), and the first time we met was in December 2018 at a bowling alley in the wilds of West Yorkshire.

I exaggerate; the bowling alley was in a major metropolitan town, although the wilds really are beautiful. It was a planned meeting, although he still didn’t know who I was; his foster carer had taken him there as a “treat” after school, and we just “happened” to be passing by. I was introduced to Bryan, who proceeded to tell me about the life cycle of a plant (which he had been learning about at school that day), and I was there along with my social worker for about twenty minutes before leaving. It was a moment that will be forever seared onto my brain; this beautiful human being was going to be my son in the next few months, and I was going to be his dad. I don’t mind admitting that, when I got outside, I shed a tear; this was suddenly very real.

Adopting a child is a huge privilege; you accept that a part of your child’s life happened before you came along, and I needed to mentally adjust to the things that were important in his life. He has lovely siblings who live with brilliant parents, and they have become part of my support network by default – no, part of my family. Bryan’s life before me is still his life, and I don’t need to have been with him from birth in order to love him very deeply.

I often find myself in a state of tiredness, juggling the demands of parenthood, work, and all the other domestic duties that come with life. But never once do I regret becoming a parent; not once. It is a genuine privilege to have become Bryan’s dad and, although I am well aware of my own shortcomings, to have learnt so much over the past three years.

I can’t believe that we have reached a three-year milestone; he has lived with me longer than he lived in foster care, and I see occasional flashes of the teenager he will be soon growing into – and, perhaps, the man he will eventually become. Bryan, you are the best son I could ever hope for, and it’s a joy to be your dad.


  1. That was lovely to read. As Bryan grows more independent would you consider doing this over again with another child in need of a family to call home? There would be numerous benefits not only for you, but Bryan and the prospective child too. And then of course all the extended family.

    Fostering is very important for kids whether short or long term – I know as have been there – but forever family through adoption is just that bit better for children as they get that security and consistency as well. The UK needs more adoptive parents for children desperate for the love of a real family.

    I hope through Matthew’s weekly opinion piece, that show’s his commitment, care and love of his son, learning all the way, that it plants a seed in the heads of some people – enough to investigate if it is right for them too.

  2. What a beautiful story. You don’t know me but my daughter and I drive past both you and your son everyday, and we always talk about the man in the hat and the little boy we see walking and often wonder who you both really are.

    I hope your journey together continues to be a wonderful experience.

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