Married couple Paul and Gregg LeBlond recently adopted their first child, seven-year-old Gavin.
The new dads warmed the collective heart of the internet when they showed off the T-shirts they wore on the day they legally adopted Gavin.
Opting for Lion King themed tops, Paul and Greg’s T-shirts read: ‘Today I became a dad’.
Now they are set to celebrate Gavin’s eighth birthday, making sure it is as special as possible for the boy who had a rough start to life.
Though they are enjoying life as a family, the adoption process hasn’t been easy for the couple from Rhode Island, U.S.
Paul explained to Metro.co.uk what the journey was like and how they wish more parents would adopt or foster young and vulnerable children.
‘Gavin is adorable, hyperactive, thoughtful and sweet,’ Paul tells Metro.co.uk. ‘When he came to us, he had a lot of issues revolved around his behaviour.
‘Given everything he has gone through I don’t think anyone would blame him. He has gotten so much better day to day and continually impresses us with his improvement.’
The proud dad explained how quickly Gavin is taking to life at home, having lived there for nearly a year now. He enjoys playing in the pool, with the puppies, going to the arcade and being active.
He certainly keeps his two dads on the move. They just want Gavin, who has overcome so much, to have a better start in life.
‘We have worked through a lot of issues and he is not the same kid that moved in with us,’ says Paul. ‘It’s crazy to think that just a lot of love, attention and structure could do so much.
‘He rarely requires the same amount of attention as he did the day he moved in. It is still a struggle to maintain structure and Gavin really enjoys throwing curve balls at us. Nothing a quick dad joke or five can’t calm.’
The adoption process was rough because of the paperwork: background checks, classes, inspections. They all end up just being a blip on the radar in the grand scheme of things though, said Paul.
‘I think for us the roughest part of the process with Gavin was listening to his full disclosure – a process that the social worker goes over with you right before adoption,’ says Paul. ‘Having to listen to the horrors of what he had been through and what others did to him made us very angry.
‘Not at him of course but at the people who harmed him. It took us a while to deal with that. In the end, everything we did and had to overcome pale in comparison to the love and progress he has made.
‘He has made incredible strides in the last months. He did this not because of us but because he wanted to. All we did was provide a stable foothold so he could climb.’
The couple has some advice for hopeful adopters, urging more people to take the plunge.
They said: ‘Don’t judge by the paperwork. Gavin looked really bad on paper but wasn’t even close to what we had envisioned in our head. When you boil down any kids past into a few pages of diagnosis it can look really bad.
‘Remember these kiddos have been under a microscope for the short time of their existence so anyone would look bad under that kind of scrutiny.
‘Get a thick skin. Remember all the anger and hurtful words don’t come from a place necessarily directed at you. These kids harbour a lot of pain and anger.
‘Sometimes that comes at you hard, but you need to remember its not always you who is the intended recipient. A lot of times you’re just convenient.’
They added that patience was key when handling a new adoptee.
‘Always try to think about what they have been through and where the emotion is coming from. It’s not always about you, sometimes it’s a trigger from the past and there’s no way of you knowing.
‘Keep a journal if you have to. Listen to them. The details of what they really mean or how they really feel come out in the most subtle ways. Make sure to pay attention.’
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