Benjamin Carpenter is a 33-year-old man who lives in West Yorkshire. Carpenter is the father of four adopted children, Jack, Ruby, Lilly, and Joseph. All of his children have various health and development issues that in some cases demand around-the-clock care. But Carpenter is thrilled to be a dad, and he has deliberately reached out to children who are differently abled. He told Unilad that being a father was always his dream, and he wanted to give a home to kids who might be overlooked by other families.
"Adoption comes with is struggles and it's stresses and in my opinion no more that if you had your own biological children 'children are children' however this does not go without saying adoption requires patience, and a bucket load of support.
"Often children within the care system have experienced a lot of difficult experiences including loss, separate abuse and neglect. However for me all my children bring me the absolute joy! I wake up in the morning and think what would my life be like without children? I know it would be empty that's for sure!"
Then this week, Carpenter won an award for all the devotion he's offered his four children. Here he is receiving the Yorkshire Choice award, which recognizes local heroes, in a great picture taken by Robling Photography.
Another aspect to Carpenter's story is that he is an openly gay man. Even gay couples face discrimination when the seek to adopt, and being a single man, Carpenter had to continually approach adoption officials for three years before he was able to bring home Jack, who is a ten-year-old with autism and OCD. Jack requires a very steady routine to stay healthy and on track, which Carpenter provides.
Carpenter says that despite his proven track record as a caretaker, he still gets negativity from ignorant people.
“I often get passing comments like ‘it’s not right’ and ‘because you are gay then all of the children will be gay then won’t they’ other comments I get are he must be doing it for money?”he said. “To me, they are just comments, I can handle it. I do find myself correcting silly naive comments. In all honesty 70% of the time, they do see sense once it’s explained to them.”
He adds, "I am so proud that the world and its views are changing and its a joy to the the LGBT community coming forward to adopt."
After Jack, Carpenter brought home Lilly and Ruby, who are biological half-sisters.
Ruby is six-years-old and has a few issues she struggles with, including mobility. Five-year-old Lilly is "proudly deaf," according to her father. The whole family is learning British Sign Language in order to communicate with her.
The youngest, Joseph, is only two-years-old. Joseph has Down Syndrome and needs a colostomy bag, which Carpenter has to change regularly every day.
A lot of people can't imagine taking on so much responsibility, but Carpenter says it's something he's basically always wanted to do.
"I have always from a young age had the desire to parent. Growing up within a religious family I always had a caring disposition instilled in me, adoption was always at the for front of my mind as having biological children was never a priority for me."
Carpenter is hoping his Yorkshire Choice award win will bring more attention to his story, the importance of adoption, and the loving family members kids with disabilities make, if you open your heart and home to them.
He's not only a dad, he's an advocate for what one person can do for many if they're given the chance.
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