By: Guillaume, EMEA Retail Marketing Manager, Slough, U.K.
Becoming a parent is a daunting experience for anyone. The sheer amount of responsibilities can feel overwhelming and all consuming. For my husband and I, we spent an emotional and tiring 18 months working through the adoption process before becoming parents to two fully formed little humans seemingly overnight. Most parents get to know their children over a few years; we only had two weeks’ worth of introduction. In an instant, these two children and their care, happiness, security, dreams and hopes now rest firmly with us.
I feel incredibly grateful to work for a company that understands the value of family. Whether it was my colleagues checking in and celebrating our new arrivals, or the eight weeks of bonding leave that McAfee offers any new parent – including adoptive and same-sex couples. The paternity leave from McAfee really made a difference in getting to know our children and for them to get to know us. I can’t fathom how different the experience and early months would have been if I had to go back to work after two weeks. The extra time allowed us to get settled and establish good routines.
Obstacles and Doubt Along the Way
That’s not to say the adoption process was easy. My husband and I knew we wanted to adopt in 2014 but didn’t officially start the process until 2017. After a grueling amount of paperwork came the emotional and time-consuming interview with the social worker. The questions challenged me and forced me to confront some of my own anxieties to ready myself for parenthood. We learned how important it is to be ready and open to re-shape who you are to bring forward the best version of yourself for your children.
And as a natural worrier, you can imagine how after having children, my anxieties skyrocketed — in addition to the concerns of any new parent, we have to think about protecting our children from homophobic attacks and prejudices. Our boys already had a tough start; I don’t want to make it tougher.
As an LGBTQ+ family, we get unspoken scrutiny from the world that already puts more pressure on us than on conventional families. We know how society says an LGBTQ+ family should celebrate Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. We notice the side looks from other parents. We know how we must conduct ourselves in public to be safe. We know we can’t go on holiday in certain countries.
As a gay man, I’ve had to work hard to create the family I have today. Growing up, gay marriage and adoption weren’t allowed, so I had come to terms with possibly never having a family of my own. Now, I’m able to play football in the park with my kids, tuck them into bed, or help with their homework – just like any other parent. This makes me feel that together, we can make a difference. We can advance equality and make the impossible, possible.
Feeling Included and Supported
I’ve worked for a number of technology companies, but McAfee is the first one that I can say, hand on heart, delivers on its commitment to inclusion. Upon my return, my colleagues have been great at giving me advice and asking how I‘m doing. As an employee and a new father, I couldn’t feel more supported. It’s reassuring to have your company’s backing and I feel lucky to live in an era and country where I could get married and adopt children without discrimination or prejudice.
Allies Can Make a Difference
For me, it’s often the little things that make a big difference toward inclusion and acceptance. Three things I always encourage from allies to help us in our quest for equality, include:
- Treat people with respect and as your equal (the golden rule – it’s simple and effective!)
- Have an open mind and don’t be afraid of our differences – we have more in common than you think
- Call out offensive or disrespectful talk – a simple “hey, that’s not cool” shows those ‘off the cuff’ comments aren’t tolerated
My family is no less different from any other. The worries and hopes for my children are the same as any parent. My struggles and questioning are the same as any father. And the love I feel for my children is the same as everybody else.
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