Local father of three named adopter champion of the year
A local dad has paid tribute to his three children after being named adopter champion of the year at a national awards ceremony.
Benjamin Carpenter received the award after being nominated by his social worker and was shortlisted from entries from across the UK.
The 31 year-old’s story is one that has captured peoples’ imaginations and inspired those around him. As a single, young dad, Benjamin is dedicating his life to raising his children, all of whom have a range of profound physical and developmental needs. Having spent many years working with children with additional needs, Benjamin adopted his first child through us in 2010, a boy now aged eight, who has autism and OCD linked with autism. He then went on to adopt two sisters; the oldest, aged five, suffers from a congenital condition called Pierre Robin syndrome, visual impairment and scoliosis of the spine, whilst her three year-old sister is profoundly deaf.
All children have made significant progress since being adopted and have surprised social workers and medical professionals alike. Benjamin has recently been approved to adopt for a fourth time and hopes he can be matched with a child with Down’s syndrome.
Why I wanted to adopt
Commenting on his award, Benjamin has paid homage to his family and friends, saying:
All I’ve ever wanted to do is to be a dad and adoption is the route I chose in order to achieve that. Many people tell me that what I’m doing is extraordinary but I feel very lucky to have my children as they are what got me here today.
I owe a lot to my mum, who has always been there for me, as well as my social worker who nominated me for this award. I’d also like to thank my dear friend and foster carer, Brenda Whitworth, who looked after my son before I adopted him. Brenda has been a huge support to me and was with me in London when I received my award.
I never imagined I’d win such a prestigious award and the whole experience of being nominated, attending the ceremony then actually winning, has been out of this world.”
As well as being a dad, Benjamin works part-time at a local school, teaching British Sign Language on voluntary basis and as a lunchtime supervisor. He also gives regular talks at our adopter training courses, in which he promotes the adoption of disabled children.
Children with disabilities face a lot of uncertainty in their lives. My eldest daughter was placed for adoption when she was five months old but because of her many health needs she received little interest. But to look at her now it’s amazing because she’s overcome so much, going from not been able to walk, to running about despite often being in pain. Also it’s incredible how far my son has come and as a family we’ve learned British Sign Language so that we can all communicate with my youngest daughter.
A child could have health issues from the outset or further down the line. You can sit and worry about all the health issues that these children might have but the fact is that once you adopt them, they become part of your family. They are your children so you just get on with it.
When I talk to would-be adopters I always encourage them to broaden their view about what they’re looking for and as a result many have looked into adopting a disabled child. Some think they won’t be able to look after a child with additional needs but what they don’t realise is that they are strong anyway because they’ve come forward to adopt.
Of course adopting a disabled child isn’t for everyone and any child that comes into your home has to be right for your circumstances. But it’s about looking at all the possibilities and opening your heart and home to the children who are crying out for a parent who will give them the love they so desperately need.
Before adopting I felt that something was missing and now here I am a father to three wonderful children. I knew even after adopting for a third time that I didn’t want to stop there. I always wanted a big family and now, as I await fatherhood for a fourth time, I feel nothing but optimism for the future.”
Paul Johnson, our assistant director for family support and child protection, said:
Benjamin is a kind, warm-hearted, generous person and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award. Benjamin has been on quite a journey and we are all so proud of him, especially his social worker who has provided amazing support.
It’s plain to see how much he dotes on his children and how much they’ve benefited from having such a fantastic role model for a father. Benjamin is proof that even when faced with some of the most life-limiting conditions a child’s life can be transformed.
There’s no such thing as a typical adopter, but Benjamin was so unique from anyone else we’d come across in that he was a single young man in his twenties, who was determined to adopt children with disabilities.
This uniqueness is the very thing that has set him apart as a truly inspirational adopter which is why he was nominated for this award. In making the decision to help these vulnerable children Benjamin is setting the foundations that will change their futures for the better, for now and for the rest of their lives.”
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