My Daddies author shares his parenting experiences as a gay dad before reading the book on CBeebies

My Daddies author shares his parenting experiences as a gay dad before reading the book on CBeebies

A Nottingham author from Sherwood shared her experiences of parenthood and the adoption process as part of a same-sex couple. Gareth Peters has released a children’s book, My Daddies, which was due to be read by presenter Gok Wan on CBeebies Bedtime stories at 6.50pm on Wednesday June 1. It will also be available on iPlayer.

The book is the first LGBT+ picture book for children to be published by Puffin, the publishing company. Gareth hopes this will help other diverse families with representation.

Gareth and his partner, Mark Wildman, became parents nine years ago when they adopted their son. They have since adopted a second son. Gareth shared that he always wanted to be a parent, but living as a gay man in the shadow of Section 28 meant he thought it might not be possible.

Gareth Peters wrote ‘My Daddies’ which is available from Five Leaves
(Photo: Gareth Peters)

“When Article 28 was introduced you couldn’t talk about gay relationships or gay people so I grew up not knowing gay people. I didn’t like myself and part of that was I thought I I could never be a parent. I wanted to start a family and have this perfect relationship, but I was made to feel like it wasn’t right,” he said.

“When I went to college I started to relate to others and then Section 28 was dropped in 2004. I suddenly realized this is my life, we can do this and we can start a family.I met my partner and we have We have been together for 18 years.Pretty early in our conversation we realized that we wanted to start our own family.

Gareth and Mark looked at many different options but ultimately decided adoption was the best fit for them. They started the process which took about 18 months. Gareth says that although the process was stressful, it was incredibly rewarding and their lives changed for the better.

“At first we decided we wanted to start our own family. We decided adoption was the right thing for us and our lives totally changed for the better. One of the most rewarding and endearing things is putting a child to bed and reading stories. . I noticed there was a distinct lack of books about diverse families with two moms, two dads, and non-binary people.”

The adoption process can be difficult as it can take a long time. However, the process means a very lengthy review by both parents interested in adopting, which can make it an emotional experience.

“I struggled because it felt like time was passing but nothing was happening. It was when you started probing your past, which wasn’t bad, that I realized how point i had pushed back and didn’t realize how lonely i felt it was because i couldn’t be open about being gay and knowing that it’s okay to be queer .You don’t realize how much it affects you until you open the floodgates,” he said.

“It’s good because once you’ve done it, you can get some form of closure and expect it never to happen to your family. The corresponding panel was perhaps one of the most nerve-wracking things I’ve ever done in my life. Your family clings to someone who says yes or no to your adoption.”

Nottingham author Gareth Peters
(Image: Nottingham author Gareth Peters)

Gareth shared the news of reading his book on CBeebies within local Facebook groups and although he was touched by the lovely posts, he pointed out that there were some who were homophobic.

Gareth said: “About 99% of the posts were positive and from women which was amazing. There were a few that were negative and homophobic. Some of the responses were ‘Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve or people offering to pray for us. Some said they were going to take the book and burn it because they felt it was disgusting and indoctrinated children.”

Offline, Gareth says the reaction from his family has been positive and he hasn’t encountered any homophobia. He says his kids get asked questions by other kids who are curious about diverse families that don’t match theirs.

“I don’t remember any times when we had any problems or people saying anything to us in front of the kids. Sometimes the little kids said things to the boys about why you have two dads, But it’s not homophobia, it’s just questions. Because it’s not like their family. It’s how kids explore the world.”

Gareth will continue to write books with plans for many more after this one. He has always been creative and has written musicals, drama and poetry in the past, although he originally planned this book for his two sons. The children’s book, which was released in 2021, is about an adopted daughter who loves to read and goes on adventures with her fathers.

He said: “I thought it would be just for my boys. When I showed it to other people they said it might be published. It’s the first picture book that Puffin has done that features a same-sex couple. It’s amazing how long I think it’s taken so long to release more books like this.”

“If we see the world through the eyes of children, then we see it as an open, tolerant and welcoming place. Why shouldn’t it start with picture books and stories so that children don’t develop prejudice or hatred? Our world is full of love and it is us adults who forget it.”

The book ‘My Daddies’ by Gareth Peters is available from the Five Leaves Bookstore on Long Row, Waterstones and online.

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