WHO ARE TWO DADS IN LONDON?
We are Richard and Lewis, a married couple who are otherwise known as Rich and Lew, living in London with our two children, the Boy and the Girl, who we are so lucky to have in our lives, having now been through the adoption process twice.
Our aim each day is to show the world that you can make the most out of parenting, no matter what your circumstances and deal with the challenges it throws at you, by simply trying to make it all as much fun as possible. It doesn’t have to be glamorous, it doesn’t have to be perfect but it does have to be memorable and let’s be honest, nobody remembers the perfect outfit they wore as a child, they remember the crazy fun days in the mud or the times when something silly happened that everyone laughs about.
Like most parents out there, we are constantly looking to strike the right balance and we are not afraid of trying something new, by constantly supporting each other and working as a team, knowing that sometimes we will get it wrong and believe us we have already done that too many times to mention. Just remember though, that without making the mistakes like we have, you wouldn't be able to learn from them and know what to do, to help avoiding them in the future.
WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?
We met in 2013 in a pub local to where we live, Rich was not an openly gay man at the time so the initial chat we had at the bar was somewhat awkward, as Rich handed over a piece of paper with his name and number on and briefly explained he was with his friends and they didn't know he was gay. I let him sweat for a few days and then messaged him, we then chatted quite a bit before we arranged to meet for an official first date by the river Thames and well the rest is history.
At the time we started dating I was working as a dancer in the Sesame Street Live tour show, as Big Bird, yes that's right, the big yellow one, which is always a fun story to tell people. I was still living at my parents house, as I was basically on tour most of the year and only returning for a few days here and there while not working away. Rich was and still is a mortgage adviser, which if you watch our Instagram stories you will know about the banter we have about this. Rich being so sensible already had his own flat and was totally secure living on his own, and although I was working, I was still living the carefree life without much responsibility.
Our backgrounds, experiences and interests for things like football and pop music are basically chalk and cheese, but for some reason as a couple we really work, which maybe proves the science behind opposites attracting. After a long period of dating we decided to move in together as we knew our relationship was serious and I was basically already living at Rich's flat, just without my own set of keys. At the end of 2013 we were living happily together and that is where our journey really began.
LET'S START A FAMILY?
We both made it clear in our early days of dating that we would love to be parents and start a family at some point, but we wanted to ensure we enjoyed being a couple for a few years first and enjoyed all the relaxing holidays we could afford. After a couple of years though, we just knew that all the holidays in the world wouldn't make us truly happy, as we both really wanted the family life.
After a lot of research into the different routes to becoming same sex parents, we were decided on adoption and didn't think surrogacy was right for us because we felt we would not be able to shake off the feeling that only one of us would be the biological father, whereas through adoption it would all be equal.
At this point it was still only the two of us that knew about our plan to become parents, as we wanted to be sure before discussing further with our parents but eventually took the decision to apply to a local authority after attending many events and meetings to gather our thoughts.
The adoption process first time around took about 18 months, mainly due to some of our own delays with all the overseas work that Lew had done in his early years and the completion of some house renovation works, to ensure we was going to be able to provide the best family home for the gorgeous little Boy who is now our Son.
WE GOT MARRIED
We got married in 2017 which we celebrated with our nearest and dearest friends and family. The Boy was the ring bearer for us because we simply wouldn't have had it any other way. It was really a day to remember and we are so pleased we had our son with us, being such an important part of it.
It took place at a stunning Georgian mansion in Kent with only our very closest family and friends at the actual ceremony, as we really wanted to keep that part very personal and were both walked in from opposite sides of the room by our Mum's, there wasn't a dry eye in the room including both of ours, as it was a day that was just all about us and we had everyone we wanted to be there, sharing those very special moments.
The wedding itself wasn’t extremely expensive like some that I am sure we have all been to, but it was just how we pictured it in our minds and went exactly how we would have hoped. The night then became a very different atmosphere from small group to huge party, where we danced the night away in true Two Dads in London style.
THE BOY WANTS A SISTER
Our family wasn’t finished as we always knew we wanted more than one child, to try and ensure they would always have siblings to grow up with and share the fun times with. We are both one of three siblings ourselves, so I guess this is more what we are used too, plus we want lots of grandchildren to look after us when we are old.
At this point our son had settled really well, bonded with the family and had such a great attachment to us, so were a little nervous at the thought of a new family member to our unit which could of course go one of two ways, they get on great or they don't. People find it hard to believe but we did give him the final decision of if he wanted a brother or sister, to us it didn’t matter whether it was a boy or girl, but giving him this responsibility will, we believe make their relationship even stronger in the future knowing that he specifically wanted her.
We went through the same local council and even ended up having the same social worker, who took us through our first adoption process for a second time. Long story short, we adopted a beautiful baby girl at the end of 2018 and our family was made complete. The bond between our children is just so amazing to see and we have been extremely lucky to become parents to our Son and Daughter, who are not biological brother and sister but absolutely are in every other way possible.
TWO DADS IN LONDON WAS BORN
Instagram… this was my go-to on days when ‘baby brain’ was getting to me, although I was loving being off work with the baby girl on paternal leave, but the day times were sometimes very lonely. I do of course have family and friends, but most of them worked a lot, which left a lot of hours to fill,outside of the bottles, nappies and naps. I had a private account at the time and followed a good few accounts and would watch them talking about their daily life and the struggles they sometimes faced. I searched for same sex parents and I was surprised at how many were found. I thought it would great to connect with other couples in the same situation and potentially not feel like the only two dad family I knew. I didn’t want to use my personal account as it was private and I had posted pictures of the children, so I created a new account. After a couple of declines from Instagram I decided to just go with what it says on the tin 'Two Dads in London'.
I first posted in February 2019 and at first it was just me, as Richard had reservations about it, due to feeling like we would experience a lot of negativity. Well he couldn’t have been more wrong, the response has been overwhelming and we have had so many lovely messages, really nice comments about our family and have sort of gained an extension to our support network from social media. As well as talking about daily struggles of being a parent, we try to keep our account real with some lighthearted fun along the way. Our midweek morning dances have become something really fun in the mornings, not just for us and our followers but most importantly the kids love them too.
We also like to use our social media platform to help others out there who are considering adoption, as we have been through the journey twice. Since starting the account, we have received numerous messages from people that have started the adoption process based on our account, which feels amazing, as it means another child in need will soon be part of a happy family.
The one thing we do get asked a lot, is why do we not show our children’s faces or use their names on social media and this is a very simple answer. Our children both have a very personal history and story, that they don't yet fully understand as they are too young, but when they are old enough to decide for themselves, we will support them with whatever they choose to do. So, in terms of 'Two Dads in London' we are parents to 'The Boy' and 'The Girly' who amaze us more and more each and every single day.