A single gay man who said he’s “always dreamed” of a big family has just adopted his sixth child with a disability.
Ben Carpenter, 37, from Huddersfield worked in the care sector before he adopted his first child when he was just 21 years old.
He told the Daily Mail: “I’ve always known what I wanted. I never wanted to become a biological dad because being a parent is so much more than that.”
Adopting children who had disabilities and additional mental and physical needs was important to him, he said, because they “were the most vulnerable and the ones that were most in need of a loving and caring home”.
In 2015, the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) estimated that while 25 per cent of all looked-after children have a disability, this number skyrockets to 40 per cent for children waiting on the adoption register.
His first child Jack, who is now 14, has autism, and soon Ben started his family he adopted Ruby, now 11, who has complex needs.
“I had a lot to prove at such a young age,” he said.
“I needed to show that I was mature enough and could offer these kids what they needed.”
After adopting Ruby, Ben was asked by the adoption agency whether he would adopt his daughter’s biological sister Lily, who is deaf.
His fourth child was six-year-old Joseph, who has Down’s syndrome, and his fifth child was Teddy, who had Cornelia de Lange syndrome, a rare genetic disorder.
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Tragically, Teddy passed away from sepsis in November, 2019, which was unrelated to his disability.
Ben said: “I was devastated and I felt guilty for a while because I kept wondering if there was something I could have done to fix it.
“Before Teddy passed away, I had been contacted to see if I would consider another child. It was a little boy with severe brain issues.
“I had said yes, but when Teddy passed I needed to put the process on hold to allow myself to grieve.”
Last year, although still grieving his son, Ben said: “I realised that this little boy also needed me.”
In April of that year, the gay dad adopted his sixth child, Louis, whose needs to use a wheelchair because of his disability.
He explained: “I had always dreamed about having a big family and I am so happy that my kids are a part of it and that they have so many siblings.
“I often sit and imagine them all at each other’s weddings.
“They are all so supportive of each other’s needs and I am so proud that I have created a happy, loving and stable environment for them to grow up in.
“As much as I have changed their life, they have also changed mine.”
Ben is currently raising money for a multi-sensory room, which “will help the children with sensory issues, developmental disabilities and learning difficulties”, via JustGiving.