Matthew Munson: A special date in our family

Matthew and Bryan

Today – 18th September – has become something of a tradition in our family. It’s the date that I legally became Bryan’s father, six months and two days after he first came home, and Bryan and I always do something to commemorate the day.

Nothing flashy, I should note, but usually we have a meal out somewhere or go to the cinema – something nice and chilled. Bryan and I always talk about this each year; does he want to acknowledge the occasion in some way, or does he just want to have a “normal” day, and we can go out for lunch or do a cinema trip on a different day. He likes to do something, and we usually treat it as a special father-son day.

Today, our 3rd anniversary of that date, is no different; we’re going out to eat at one of Bryan’s favourite restaurants, going to play in the park afterwards, and then settling down to a good film at home in the evening. He might even get an extra half-an-hour out of me at bedtime, given that there’s no school on Monday.

To be a parent is a genuine privilege; a genuine privilege. I can’t emphasise that enough; to be able to give a child a home and all the love I can muster is something I am always thankful for. As Bryan grows up, he will continue choosing his own way in life, and he will have my continued support; I’m not here to dictate what his life should look like, but I’m here to help him – safely – figure out what he wants his future to look like.

The day of his adoption hearing, I was working from home (as usual), but I was easily distracted. I knew the hearing wasn’t until 2pm, but my phone didn’t leave my side all day. I got a call about 2.30pm, just as I was getting ready to pick Bryan up from school and got the news that I had been entrusted with this precious young man forever. I went into auto-pilot mode at this point, I think; I had to pick Bryan up from school, and that was all there was to it.

I debated whether to tell Bryan the news at the school gates, but quickly dismissed that idea; this was a private moment between the two of us, and neither one of us would want other people gawping at us if – if, ha – we got a bit emotional. Well, we did after we got home, and we talked about what that meant for us as a family.

A lot has happened since that day; he calls me “dad” now instead of “daddy”, he is becoming more independent in our neighbourhood, and we’ve lived through a global pandemic. Gulp. He is not the eight year old boy who walked through the front door after two years with his foster carers and decided to explore his bedroom right away – he was curious then and he’s still curious now, about the world, himself, and life in general.

The area we live in is lovely in so many ways; the pandemic was a good reminder of the outdoor spaces we have, and just a walk home can bring you in contact with genuine, friendly people.

This last Friday evening, Bryan had his regular dance class, which he loves, and where he got to spend time with some friends and peers who share a love of dancing, then I suggested that we walk home. After a little gentle nudging, Bryan agreed (we were walking no matter what, to tell you the truth), and we started off chatting about our days and sharing some laughter.

As we walked, we encountered a little park; on the spur of the moment, we went in and played for about twenty minutes – just because we could – and then carried on our way. Further up, we bumped into a lovely lady and her dog, who reads this column every week, and with whom we chatted for a good ten minutes or so about life, the local area, and our families. Finally, as we reached home, a neighbour was outside with some of her family, and we got to spend a little while with them as well.

That’s not what happens every single day, but it’s the little moments where we make connections with people that brings a lot of joy; it’s that sense of familiarity and comfort in a very strange world right now. But life is always strange, I suppose; I’m just glad to get to share it with my amazing – growing – son.