Ben Carpenter has been called a saint and an inspiration but only one title really matters to him - ‘dad’.
The 33-year-old has previously been named Adopter Champion of the Year after he adopted four disabled children since 2010 and he hasn’t ruled out adopting a fifth child.
Huddersfield dad Ben spoke to the Examiner ahead of a trip to London as a VIP guest of the charity First4Adoption which has given him invaluable assistance over the years.
“People have called me a saint and say what I do is remarkable but I just wanted to be a dad and adopting is my way of becoming a dad,” he said.
His adoption journey began more than 10 years ago when he became one of youngest gay men in Yorkshire to adopt a child, not to mention the first single man to apply in Kirklees.
It had taken him around three years to convince the authorities that he was serious about adopting and, more importantly, had the maturity and skills to be a good dad.
“I only ever wanted one child when I started on the process of adoption,” said Ben, who has previously worked with adults and children with a range of disabilities.
“I am a believer in fate - this is what I was meant to do.”
What makes his story even more remarkable is that Ben doesn’t have a partner to shoulder the burden of looking after children Jack, 10, sisters Ruby, seven, and Lily, five, and Joseph, two, who has Down’s syndrome.
All children have made significant progress since being adopted and have surprised social workers and medical professionals alike.
“I get called a saint all the time and ‘how do you do it?’,” said Ben.
“My mum Rita is a huge support to me and my friend Jeanette is an amazing woman and help to me.
“The charity Adoption UK has also been lovely and deserves praise for the work they do and support they provide.”
He remains single to this day and doesn’t see it as an issue.
“I have never sought a relationship, it never interested me,” he said. “I like to do my own thing. At the end of the day I like a cup of tea and a slice of cake and to not listen to someone snoring!”
When he’s not looking after the children - which is pretty much 24/7 - Ben works to educate other prospective adopters and sits on a local adoption panel.
“I celebrate and promote adoption,” he said. “It’s the most rewarding, satisfying and challenging thing I have done.
“I am not going to sugar-coat it because it’s not for the faint-hearted. You have to be 100% committed. If you are considering adopting, make sure you have childcare experience. If you are not already a parent make sure that it’s right for you.
“I have always said that adopting a disabled child isn’t right for everyone. You have to be totally honest with yourself.”
His driving motivation is seeing his children learning new skills and growing in confidence.
When he first met Ruby she was hooked up to a feeding machine, couldn’t speak and was reliant on a wheelchair.
“She looked a very sorry little girl,” he said.
“She was petrified and shaking and it broke my heart. She is eating and walking now, although she has life-long needs.”
He added: “I am quite proud of myself that I have turned her life around. Seeing the changes in her is just outstanding.
“Seeing my children and how they are now is why I get up in the morning.
“In this house we have an ‘I can do’ attitude and we try to teach them as much independence as we can. Disability isn’t the be all and end all.”
National Adoption Week runs until October 22.
Further information from