Daddy and Dad: It’s little things that make a big difference

Kevin Egan and Kevin Higgins are enjoying their family life, back in inclusive Ireland
Daddy and Dad: It’s little things that make a big difference

Kevin Higgins and Kevin Egan with their boys Adam and Mackenzie at their home in Douglas, Cork. Picture: Dan Linehan

For Kevin Egan, his motivation to adopt a child with his partner, Kevin Higgins, stemmed from his career in the UK.

“I was well aware of how many kids were in the care system and I knew we could provide a loving home for a child,” said Kevin Egan.

Kevin Higgins, also known as Daddy and, according to their children, not to be confused with Dad (Kevin Egan), said: “We reached milestones that we thought we never would, from coming out of the closet to entering a civil partnership. Having a child felt like the next important step to take.” Adam was 23 months old and McKenzie was four years old when they came to live with Kevin and Kevin. And while they were elated to have children, prior to that it wasn’t all plain sailing. The pair made a move to the UK.

“It was personal that we felt we couldn’t be ourselves or explore who we were. But when I moved to the UK I started to see other people were gay and it felt like we jumped ahead ten years. It just became the norm, I started to evolve my life as a gay man,” said Kevin Higgins.

“It was like our friends were waiting for it. In terms of family, there were certain family members who weren’t surprised, but others who wondered why they felt we couldn’t say it sooner. The discomfort was the fact that they felt they let us down,” he continued.

Overall Kevin and Kevin’s experience as fathers has been a positive one.

“We have been very lucky and everyone has been really supportive,” they said.

 Kevin Egan and Kevin Higgins with their boys Adam and Mackenzie at their home in Douglas, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
Kevin Egan and Kevin Higgins with their boys Adam and Mackenzie at their home in Douglas, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

However, it’s the little things that they worry about that indicates our society isn’t fully inclusive of same-sex parents just yet.

They were living in the UK with their children until the end of 2016.

“We were definitely the first handful of couples to adopt as a gay couple in the area of England we were living in at the time. When we were filling out forms we’d have to scratch out the ‘mother’ titles or leave a note.

“In most cases you’d get a lovely email back saying we’re really sorry about the form, we’re going to update them. Back here in Ireland, it has been the same, our kids go to the Educate Together school, they’re approach was already there.

“For example, the forms state Parent 1, Parent 2, Guardian 1, Guardian 2. But some secondary schools still have a mom and dad section,” said Kevin Higgins.

“For me it’s like you’re coming out every time because you’re having to explain yourself each time,” said Kevin Egan. “Even if you go for a random medical appointment. You might both arrive in, and you’re saying it’s Daddy and Dad. There’s a sense of coming out every time.

“An adoption cert that has both names on it replaces the birth cert, but one day one of us was told to pick who going to be mother to complete the registration process for our children’s PPS numbers. This was done in front of our sons,” said Kevin Higgins.

“I think more catching up with the forms has to happen, but we’re getting there. Maybe that’s because we do the scratching out and the following year they’re updated.

“I’d love to get the security question ‘what’s your mother’s maiden name’ changed. In another couple of years, Adam will have his own bank account and he’ll be asked that question. Why can’t any name be asked?” he continued.

Speaking of their children’s school experience so far, the pair said: “Our kids’ school really put their arms around everyone. If it wasn’t for Carrigaline Educate Together, I don’t know how we would have coped.

“In other schools, we might stick out like a sore thumb. We have one secondary Educate Together school and few primary schools in Cork, and we’re lucky that we live in the vicinity of that secondary school.

“When people think about schools, sometimes they think about the top performing schools, and academia, whereas we prioritise neutrality. If we moved to a different part of Ireland, we might not have had the Educate Together schools. It would be great to see that change.” Five years on, Kevin and Kevin say they have no regrets having left the UK to return to Cork as an LGBT+ family.

“The referendum result was a clear signal that we were now welcome,” Kevin Higgins said. “In December 2016, we moved back home to Cork, and haven’t looked back since.”

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