Dads' parenting dream comes true

ROSA STUDHOLME
Last updated 05:00 22/01/2013
OUR GIRL: Timaru couple John McIver and Terewa Karetai have had their dream of becoming parents realised, taking guardianship of Charlie, aged 7 months.
NATASHA MARTIN/FAIRFAX NZ

OUR GIRL: Timaru couple John McIver and Terewa Karetai have had their dream of becoming parents realised, taking guardianship of Charlie, aged 7 months.

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After months of having their hopes raised and dashed, a Timaru gay couple's dream of raising a child is finally coming true.

Terewa Karetai and John McIver will take legal guardianship of 7-month-old Charlie this year, and hope to legally adopt her if the law that prevents same-sex couples from adopting is updated.

"She's a real treasure," Mr Karetai said.

"It feels like we've had her for a year. It's so much work but it's all worth it in the end."

Charlie's biological father, Mr Karetai's brother, offered to give her up to their care when his partner became pregnant, and Child, Youth and Family arranged for her to be placed with them. A parenting order is being sought through the courts.

But the journey to parenthood has not been an easy one. The couple were approached in 2011 by another woman to take guardianship of her child, and attended scans and other hospital visits during the pregnancy only for the mother to change her mind.

Charlie's mother also had second thoughts after the birth, but changed her mind again a few months later.

It was an "emotional rollercoaster", Mr Karetai said.

Approaching the authorities had also quashed their hopes. "When we went for the first adoption ... social services here in Timaru basically told us no."

Despite the obstacles, Mr Karetai said they were determined to be parents. They say taking Charlie has affirmed their relationship. They plan to marry once the law allows it.

Mr Karetai acknowledged there will be some who do not accept the family, but hopes in time that would change.

Child, Youth and Family acting general manager operations Sharon Thom said the law allows only for couples who are considered to be married, or single persons - including single gay people - to adopt.

In the case of a gay couple, one partner could be granted an adoption order. The other could then be granted a parenting order under the Care of Children Act.

However, they could not jointly adopt as a couple.

She said in terms of fostering or approval of caregivers, "we apply the approval process irrespective of sexual orientation".

"A gay couple would be assessed in the same way as any other couple, defacto or married."

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- The Timaru Herald

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