We tried fertility treatment for quite a long time and that was unsuccessful so we were exploring our options and looked at adoption. We went to a coffee morning with Families for Children. There were only five couples sitting around a table, it was very informal. They had an adopter who came along and spoke so nicely about her little girl. It made it feel much more real and possible.
The reality is that the type of children who’re up for adoption have complex backgrounds and needs but Families for Children put more of a positive twist on it. While the children are likely to have challenging backgrounds they are also little kids who need a family.
Fertility treatment largely meant me going off and having stuff done to me. The adoption process was much more even, we were in it together. We both had to do everything. The adoption process was more intrusive in many other ways, but in ways that made sense.
We found the process interesting. Before embarking on our journey, we had certain preconceptions I suppose. We went in thinking that birth families were awful people, that they’ve mistreated these children, that’s why they’ve been taken away and they shouldn’t have any rights to have any information or whatever. We thought that we would take this child, forget their past and make a fresh start. We changed some of our points of view along the way. We’re really open with our daughter about her family and we think that’s important and we encourage conversations about what’s happened before. We’re still massively in touch with her foster carers and I think that’s really important for her.
You know stage one of the process is however long, and you know stage two is going to be a certain length but the next bit, finding your child, you just don’t know. We met people who didn’t have their child for three years until after their approval. But we were also on the training course with someone who had their children lined up before they went to their final panel so it’s a real unknown, which is really hard.
When we were approved it was like right, “where’s my child now?” Then it became quite personal because we applied for lots of children and most of the time we didn’t hear anything back or we were turned down. You can take that quite personally.
We went to a video evening which felt very weird, but that’s were we found our daughter. We left with a leaflet about her and about another little girl and I knew, if anyone was going to let me have her, she’s the one I wanted. A couple of weeks later they came back and said they were interested in us. We met the social workers and then it went from there.
It took six months to get her home and we couldn’t tell anyone which was very difficult. But there were some great moments too, like getting the house ready, making our introduction book, buying all the first things and it becoming a reality. And then of course meeting her.
We couldn’t go to panel until we’d had a two week cooling off period after meeting the medical advisor. We found out a lot of stuff that we hadn’t known and that was really difficult. But at that point we already considered her our daughter.
She finally arrived with us on 6th July. We got up one morning and her foster carers had sent through a little video saying, “see you later”. Just waking up and thinking we’re going to meet our daughter today was the weirdest thing.
I was really, really worried about introductions because we’d spent all that time falling in love with her but we hadn’t met her. You don’t do internet dating and commit to marriage before you’ve met the person do you? I was worried I wouldn’t like her smell and that period of time is so fake how do you know what you’re feeling are real feelings. We took lots of video and photos and looked at them in the evening to see how it was all sitting. Because at that point if you decide it’s not a goer it’s a big deal.
I was all prepared for adoption but I wasn’t prepared for parenthood at all. It came as a massive shock. Those first few weeks were so odd. She was grieving and I suddenly had someone who followed me everywhere and didn’t stop talking at me. Those first few weeks were like, “oh my goodness!” But lovely as well.
To be an adopter you need to be honest with yourselves, your social worker and your child. You need stamina.
Families for children have just been amazing. They didn’t try and force us into anything but they weren’t scared to tell us if they thought we were taking the wrong route. It wasn’t just about allocating families to children or vice versa it was about getting the right families for the right children.