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Dad speaks on Father’s Day about amazing experience of adopting

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AN adoptive dad of two has spoken of the privilege he feels watching his children bloom and grow.

Alex* has described becoming a father as a ‘totally new and amazing kind of joy’, and on Father’s Day is encouraging more men to consider adoption.

Through Adoption Mid and West Wales, Alex is telling his story in the hope that it will inspire.

The service supports families and individuals along every step of the adoption journey, matching children with people who can provide them with a loving, safe and stable family life.

For Alex and his wife, their decision to adopt came after unsuccessful fertility treatment which led them to reflect on their family plans.

Reaching out to their local authority adoption team, the couple were matched with a little boy just over a year from making their first enquiry.

“We had always talked about adoption as a possible route to starting a family,” he said. “We did try a round of IVF when it was clear we couldn’t conceive naturally, but after that was unsuccessful we took some time out to reflect.

“We started the process in January. We had a pretty normal year whilst going through the process – went to work as usual, went to festivals, on holiday, spent time with family and friends – and fitted meetings with social workers and courses in between.

“We did try to read up as much we could and attended extra courses and training outside of the ones organised by the local authority. We had the approval panel in December and after being successful there we didn’t have too long to wait before a match was found.

“We didn’t specify what gender we wanted our child to be, but the local authority did a very good job of finding a child that matched our lifestyle and profiles.

“We all have ways of finding our own joy, but becoming a father was a totally new and amazing kind of joy that I hadn’t experienced before.”

Such was their positive experience, that two years later Alex and his wife decided to adopt again.

“It was a more straightforward process second time around, as we knew what to expect,” he said. “We had a different social worker who hadn’t worked with second time adopters before, so she was a bit surprised at our level of confidence!”

Alex now confesses to be ‘the world’s biggest adoption bore’ and says adoption has been a positive experience with an amazing ending.

“Having spent many years without children in my life and finding joy in many other ways, I try hard not to make out that people without children are somehow inferior, but it is an utter privilege to be able to provide two children with a safe and secure environment to watch them blossom and grow as amazing human beings.

“To anyone considering adoption I would advise to go into it with your eyes open as there will be issues that will crop up that you may not have thought of, but stick with it – at the end of the day these are children we are talking about not bug-eyed monsters!

“There are lots of support groups for adoptive mums, but very little for dads, so if the opportunity comes up to go for a beer with an adoptive dad then take it – you will find out that adoption is way more normal and commonplace than you think! Oh, and if you have access to the Apple TV channel then watch ‘Trying’. A very funny and fairly accurate summing up of the whole process!”

This Father’s Day – weather permitting – Alex and his family are going camping.

“The relationship I had with my own father was a lot more traditional, so I am trying to be a lot more open and loving with my children. When I spend time with my friends who are also dads, I don’t feel any different to them – I love my children unconditionally and I’m extremely proud of them.”

Adoption Mid and West Wales is a dedicated service that supports adoptive families to come together.

The team recruits, trains and assesses prospective adopters to provide high-quality adoptive placements for local children and young people, enabling them to live with permanent new families.

There is no set criteria to becoming an adoptive parent – it doesn’t matter whether prospective adopters already have children, whether they’re single or a couple (straight or LGBT+), whether they’re married, unmarried or in a civil partnership.

Children are matched and placed with adoptive parents who are assessed as being able to provide a stable and nurturing environment and have the skills to meet the needs of the children.

Ongoing support is provided to adopters and their families throughout the adopted child’s life.

Locally, there is a need for adopters from a variety of backgrounds so children can be placed with families and individuals who share their own culture, language and religion.

Anyone interested in finding out more can visit adoptionmwwales.org.uk for advice and information. 

An online information session is being held on Wednesday, July 21, 2021, at 6.30pm – register before Friday, July 16, 2021. 

Enquiries can also be made with a member of the adoption team – email adoptionenquiries@carmarthenshire.gov.uk or call 0300 30 32 505.

* Names have been changed to protect the identity of the children

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Communities for Work Plus is on hand to assist with disability support

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CONGRATULATIONS to Tina Evans who has recently joined the BBC Wales presenting team and is currently covering the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

In preparation for starting her new job, Tina sought the services of Carmarthenshire County Council’s Communities for Work Plus programme to help overcome multiple barriers such as access to work and communicating with social services.

Tina, who is from Pontyberem originally, faces numerous challenges, due to long-term health conditions and disabilities, and requires a lot of support in relation to mobility and everyday care, as she is a wheelchair user.

Writing ahead of starting her new role with the BBC, Tina said “I had been offered work with BBC Wales, as part of the presenting team, and needed to sort out support during my role. As I was tight against time, I accessed the Communities for Work Plus hub in Carmarthen with the hope to speed things up. This was the best decision I made. After speaking with their team, I felt a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders as I, now, wasn’t sorting things alone.

“I would especially like to thank Desiree from the Communities for Work Plus team. She supported me through telephone calls with access to work and social services and liaised with them to make sure we met the deadlines required. There were a few barriers to overcome along the way, but with Desiree’s support and determination, we hurdled over them. I must admit, her support was invaluable in gaining access to work and without it, I would have given up.

“I can now look forward with excitement for this opportunity, knowing that I have the support I need.”

Desiree De Mouilpied, Community Employment Officer/Disability Specialist said “It’s been a privilege to assist Tina with her journey to accessing work. Her character and determination, to pursue her dreams and overcome complex barriers into employment, have been inspiring. We all wish her the best of luck in her new job.”

Communities for Work Plus provides the infrastructure to support the ongoing delivery of Communities for Work. The programme enhances the employment-focused support for those, often with complex barriers, who are furthest from the labour market into training and future employment with a holistic and person-centred approach.

Carmarthenshire County Council coordinate employment support from its Llanelli Hwb and office, which are based in the middle of Llanelli Town Centre.

For further information about the Communities For Work Plus programme, please visit https://www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/home/council-services/jobs-careers/help-to-find-a-job/ or email c4wplus@carmarthenshire.gov.uk or phone 01554 784847.

Cllr Gareth John, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism said “We’re delighted for Tina and proud of her success in gaining employment with BBC Wales.

“I would urge people in our county, who are looking to get into work, to take advantage of the support that Carmarthenshire County Council can give to you. Our employment support teams can help you identify training opportunities, provide you with a personal mentor, work with you to develop a job action plan, help you to build your confidence and help with writing a CV and completing job applications.

We want to support more people, like Tina, to overcome barriers to get into work.”

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Community Shop holds Queen’s Volunteer Award ceremony

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ON AUGUST 12, at 10:30am the popular and successful Dryslwyn Community Shop will at last celebrate the Queens’ Award for Volunteers, which they received in 2021.

Sara Edwards, Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed, will present the award.

“There will be cake and light refreshments,” explains volunteer coordinator Michele Powell, “with speeches from directors and as always, everyone is welcome.”

“The shop and post office were due to close in 2009,” explains one of the directors of the shop, “ending a by then 157 years run of a post office in the location. However, the local community pulled together and took over the shop and post office by forming a non-for-profit company. This is run by 35 friendly volunteers on the counter and behind the scenes, for our community.”

The shop deservedly received recognition for its service to the community, saving the residents a 12m journey to the next shop or post office and reducing rural isolation by providing a community hub. The shop also aims to stock locally grown, healthy and environmentally friendly stock.

Last year land was donated for a new building for the shop, next to its current location, with more scope for seating and parking.

“Details of the planning application, which is about to be submitted, were presented to the public recently,” explains project chair Nigel Jones. “We look forward to providing more feedback and discussion with residents over this as well as efforts to gain funding, when we are able to.” The shop is also always keen to add to its pool of volunteers.

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20mph speed limits in Wales ‘will protect pedestrians and save money’

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SENEDD members will vote on Welsh Government plans to introduce 20mph as a standard speed limit across Wales on Tuesday (Jul 12).

The plans intend to shift to a default speed limit of 20mph from the current 30mph in most residential roads and other busy streets.

If it passes, the new law is expected to come into force from September 17, 2023.

The policy aims to reduce the number of road traffic collisions, improve air quality and noise pollution, and encourage the shift away from car use.

Research and pilot trials in eight areas across Wales have been regarded as a success by Welsh ministers.

The government estimates that after an initial £33 million is spent on the change, it will be offset by a saving of £58m in reduced use of emergency services and hospital admissions over 30 years.

Supporters of the move say that pedestrians are 40% less likely to die when hit by a car travelling at 20mph compared with one travelling at 30mph.

Dr Sarah Jones, consultant in environmental public health at Public Health Wales, said: “Travelling at 20 mph has been shown to reduce the risk of crashing and the severity of crashes that do still happen.

“It also produces less noise pollution and reduces fuel consumption. It encourages people to walk and cycle, helping to fight obesity and improve mental well-being.

“All of these are likely to contribute to improvements in health and reduction in the demands for health services, which will help the NHS recovery from Covid.”

However, not everybody is in favour of the change. The law is likely to be opposed by the Welsh Conservatives.

Sam Rowlands, MS for North Wales, has called on residents to voice their concerns about the plans.

Mr Rowlands said: “I met with local councillor Adie Drury and residents in Buckley, this morning who are extremely frustrated at the pilot scheme which has led to roads through the town having a 20mph speed limit instead of 30mph.

“They are quite rightly very concerned as they believe that pollution is increasing because cars have to drive in a lower gear and wait longer at traffic lights, there have also been more accidents and the cost of the scheme is thought to be in the region of £33 million across Wales which would be better spent on more teachers, doctors and nurses.

“The trial has certainly caused a lot of problems for people living in Buckley and I am angry on their behalf as there does appear to be a lack of public awareness around these changes.

“I do support letting councils put 20mph speed limits outside schools, hospitals and other areas where evidence shows it’s a benefit, but a blanket 20mph speed limit across urban roads in Wales is just not right.”

Stephen Edwards, chief executive of Living Streets, who advocates a walking based approach to travel, said: “This would be life-changing legislation because slower speeds will improve the places where we live, work and go to school.

“It’s simple: slower speeds save lives – and I urge Members of the Senedd to support the 20mph in the vote on 12 July and help make our streets and pavements safe and accessible for everyone in our communities.”

Christine Boston, director of sustainably travel organisation Sustrans Cymru, said: “Sustrans Cymru joins Living Streets and Cycling UK in calling for Members of the Senedd to support the proposals, because 20mph defaults will help make communities across Wales safer and more attractive places to walk, wheel and cycle.

“We believe that everyone in Wales should have access to safe streets. Making 20mph default limits in our communities will help to reduce the dominance of motor vehicles whilst creating opportunities for social interaction, creating happier and healthier places.

“We want communities that are built for safety rather than speed.”

Commenting, Welsh Shadow Minister for Transport, Natasha Ashgar MS, said: “The Welsh Conservatives are not against introducing 20mph speed limits outside schools, playgrounds, places of worship and high streets, but a blanket roll-out is quite frankly ludicrous.

“With a price tag of more than £32 million, is this really money well spent at a time when the Labour Government should be focused on tackling the big issues at hand such as the cost-of-living? I don’t think it is, and I am sure residents across the country will be thinking the exact same.

“This is yet another diktat imposed by Labour from Cardiff Bay.

“Speed limits like this should be decided by councils in their local areas, not top-down by Labour ministers. Let’s give local people the power over their communities, the very people who know their roads best.”

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