Today we reveal the winner of our Achievement Award at Thursday’s Examiner Community Awards. It’s Ben Carpenter, a single, gay man who has adopted four children with special needs. Tomorrow we profile the final category in our countdown which is Community Event of the Year.
Syngenta is very proud to continue our support of the 2018 Examiner Community Awards.
The work we do at Syngenta helps farmers all over the world grow higher yields from their crops, providing greater choice of quality food at an affordable price. The Examiner Community Awards are a prestigious occasion to recognise the dedication and passion of our local champions.
For our part, we continue to invest in our apprenticeship programme, providing employment opportunities for local people and we remain committed to keeping professional and skilled manufacturing jobs in Kirklees for many years to come.
We work very hard to stay in touch with our local community and get involved wherever we can.
Syngenta in Huddersfield recently opened a Community Science Lab for local schools and we are active in our community through our Employees Community Gift Scheme and our annual Connecting Communities events.
We congratulate Ben Carpenter on receiving the 2018 Examiner Community Achievement Award and we applaud all of the 2018 nominees for their dedication, passion and personal commitment to making Kirklees a thriving place to live.
Ben Carpenter is a truly outstanding person who has dedicated his life to providing a fantastic home for four children with special needs.
The 33-year-old single gay dad has adopted the children and is now regarded as a national role model, giving children a new chance on life and breaking down myths surrounding adoption.
His story began more than 10 years ago when he became one of the youngest gay men in Yorkshire to adopt a child ... and 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.
The family lives in Huddersfield and his children are Jack, 10, sisters Ruby, seven, Lily, five, and Joseph, two, who has Down’s syndrome.
Ben said: “There’s no such thing as a stereotypical family. No one family is the same. My life has been blessed with four beautiful children and I would not have it any other way. Because of my children’s complex needs I know that they will always need my support into adulthood. I will always be there to support them, whatever they may face in the future.”
He added: “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.”
Ben, who has previously worked with adults and children with a range of disabilities, said: “I only ever wanted one child when I started on the process of adoption. I am a believer in fate - this is what I was meant to do.
“My mum Rita and my friend Jeanette Bottomley both give me fantastic support.
“The charity Adoption UK has also been lovely and deserves praise for the work they do and support they provide.”
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 lifelong 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.”
Adoption UK chief executive Dr Sue Armstrong Brown said: “Media coverage of Ben’s extraordinary adoption journey has helped to dispel many of the myths which unfortunately still exist over who can and cannot adopt.
“Ben’s story emphasises the fact there is no longer a requirement for you to be heterosexual and married to adopt. When it comes to a child’s development it’s not the sexual orientation or gender of their parent (s) that’s important. Rather, the resilience of those individuals and the quality of the family relationships are what really matter. Through our engagement with our members we find that same sex adopters, such as Ben, are often among the most willing to consider adopting harder-to-place children such as those who have special needs.
“In 2016, one in seven adoption orders in England and Wales was made by a gay couple so it’s important to acknowledge the huge contribution that same sex adopters make in parenting some of the most vulnerable children in our society. Without the contribution of same-sex adopters we could be facing a crisis in adopter recruitment.
“Having adopted a child of British-Chinese heritage, Ben is also a trans-racial adoptive parent.
“Clearly, it is vital to ensure that children who have suffered trauma and a great deal of change are able to develop a sense of permanency and belonging in their adoptive families and that includes very careful consideration of how to support their ethnicity and/or religion. But waiting for a perfect racial/religious match can be at the expense of finding a family. This is because fewer people from ethnic minorities come forward to adopt children so there is a shortage.
“Adoption UK believes that no child should be waiting in care because of the colour of their skin or their religion. Above all, children need families, as Ben’s story successfully highlights.”