Being told you’d make a great dad is meant as a compliment but every time Anthony Kinahan hears it, his heart aches.
The couple have been together for 15 years and entered civil partnership
in Feb 2007 in Belfast, to the delight of their family and friends.
“We were never treated any different from my brother and his wife or my
sister and her husband so in all our 15 years we never really felt
discriminated against until we wanted to have a family,” says Anthony.
He and Barry lived in London for a while and took the first steps
towards applying for approval as adoptive parents there but they missed
Ireland and made the difficult decision to come home, giving up their
hopes of parenting on the way.
“We are both paternal. We both want our own kids. We both work with
children. We have loads of nieces and nephews. We just get on with kids
and kids get on with us.
“Especially with Barry — people would often remark oh, you’d made a
great dad, and that’s like a dagger in the heart because we feel we
would be great dads and we think there are children out there who need
loving parents like us.”
In 2012, Anthony and Barry were approved as foster parents and have
since had a number of short-term placements, but they still want to make
a life-long commitment to a child.
“All we ever looked for is eligibility to apply [to adopt]. I’m not
saying we should be entitled to adopt but should be able to put our
names in the hat.”
The couple’s story was one of several told at a seminar hosted by
Marriage Equality yesterday that highlighted the difficulties caused by
laws that discriminate against non-traditional families and couples.
TV production company owner Linda Cullen spoke of her anxiety at having
no legal relationship to the twin daughters born to her partner, Feargha
Ni Bhroin, by assisted reproduction.
Feargha is scheduled for surgery later this week and if anything
happened to the little girls while she is out of action, Linda has no
legal authority to make decisions regarding their welfare.
Angela O’Connell from Cork urged the State to recognise her family in
its entirety. She has two children from a marriage, a child she has
helped foster since a baby, and a child born to her lesbian ex-partner
through assisted reproduction.
Although she and her partner split up, they co-parent the two younger
children who share both their names and spend Christmas and holidays
with them jointly, yet those children have no legal relationship to her.
“They have no claim on me. I could pretty much walk away tomorrow and
nobody could tell me to do other wise which to my mind is absolutely