Tuesday, 2 March 2010

An Adoption Story

Our journey to becoming parents has taken us 15 years with infertility and the loss of 10 precious babies along the way.

Hubby and I married in 1994 and decided to start our family in 1995.  I fell pregnant within two months but lost the baby at 12 weeks.  We had two more heartbreaking miscarriages before we could receive any medical interventions.  I found found to have a uterine septum and then subsequently to have a blood clotting disorder.  Several more pregnancies using asprin to thin my blood but they ended in first trimester miscarriages.  Finally the septum was removed and heparin was added to the mix during pregnancy but still my body couldn't sustain a pregnancy, and I became allergic to the heparin.  When I was 35 I simply stopped being able to conceive naturally so we tried IVF.  It was a text book cycle with a pregnancy but yet again a miscarriage.  We finished our treatment with a Frozen Embryo Transfer, which again was text book, followed by a pregnancy but yet again I miscarried.  Each of my pregnancies had a wonderful little heartbeat but each time I miscarried in the first trimester.  We came to the realisation that my body just couldn't do pregnancy.  Whatever the medical explanation is, medical science just hasn't caught up with me yet. 

Whilst we were doing the IVF we had pretty much decided that enough was enough and we didn't want to continue putting ourselves through the stress and agony of pursuing our dream of becoming a family through pregnancy. The IVF and FET were our way of closing the door on infertility.  It obviously wasn't meant to be for us. We decided to contact our local adoption agency and find out whether we would be suitable to become adopters. Making that first call to the agency in January 2008 felt like the most positive step towards becoming parents that we had taken in years. We went to an information even in September 2008 to find out more about becoming adoptive parents. After the information event we put in an application to be assessed. We had an initial home visit in December 2008 after which we were informed that we were on a waiting list to attend a Preparation Course. We finally attended this course in March/April 2009. In July 2009 we started our home study.

Anyone wanting to become an adopter has to be prepared that the process takes its time. There are often gaps of several months in between different stages and it often feels like you will never get there. Most adopters-to-be worry that they will not be considered suitable and minor indiscretions or difficulties in their past will count against them. We were no different. The anxiety was enormous. In fact, the reality is that Social Workers are looking for people with life experiences. Children who are available to be adopted have already experienced issues such as separation and loss and may have also experienced things such as abuse; neglect or exposure to drugs and alcohol. Social Workers need people who understand the emotions that these children may experience throughout their lives and be able to understand and manage any difficult behaviour that may result from these emotions. The adoption process feels long and intrusive but it is important that the Social Workers understand you as well as they possibly can so that they are able to understand your strengths and limitations and also to match you with a child that is the best possible match for you and for the child. During the home study I felt very exposed and vulnerable. It occurred to me during the process that the emotions I was feeling would probably be similar to a child being placed for adoption. It was a valuable insight.

Paperwork all in order, we went to a Panel in December 2009 to be approved as adopters. Panel was the single most terrifying experience of my life I think. After 15 years of being unable to become parents, being judged by a panel as to whether we were suitable to be adoptive parents was loaded with all the emotions we had carried for those years. Were we good enough? Would we be found to be lacking in some way? The panel were lovely. We received a unanimous YES! We were finally going to be parents. It was no longer "IF" it was "WHEN".

On 29th December 2009 we received a call from our Social Worker saying they had a match for us. She had known about this match for some time but had to wait for all our paperwork to go through before she could speak to us about it. We were in shock. It was only a few weeks since we were approved. We discussed the details with our Social Worker and decided were keen to pursue the match of a 2 year old little girl. On 31st December 2009 we met with our Social Worker and the Social Workers for the little girl.

From this point the world speeded up. We barely had our heads around the fact that very soon a 2 year old little girl would hopefully be joining us. We had meetings with the Medical Adviser and Foster Carers. We were trying to get the house ready and do all those jobs that you always put off. There was still a question mark hanging over the process however. Another panel. This one called the Linking Panel. We met again with the panel in February 2010 who again were wonderful to us. The approved us to adopt our little girl. Finally we could embrace the fact that we really were going to become parents.

Whilst we had seen some pictures and some wonderful video clips from the Foster Carers, we had not been allowed to keep a photo until this point. We had created a beautiful little book of photos and a story to introduce us and our house to our new daughter. We were able to add a gorgeous picture of our daughter to this book but still didn't have a picture of our own. I fell in love with my daughter when I saw the picture that her Foster Carers had provided for our book. At panel my desperation for a picture to gaze at was voiced and the following week some pictures were emailed to me by the Foster Carer. I am now able to gaze to my hearts content whilst we wait to meet our daughter.

In three days time we will meet our daughter for the first time. This blog is the story of our meetings; life as a family and my thoughts around being an adopter.


  1. It's great to read somebody else's story. I am an adoptive mum of a beautiful, boisterous, cheeky little 5 year old boy with a huge character. I also have a 9-year old through IVF. Having both children has had its challenges. Adoption has been a rocky road but one very much worth travelling, with warm hugs and hearty belly giggles along the way. I know of no other adoptive parents personally and sometimes it can feel very lonely, so I appreciated your blog immensely, thank you. Now back to spreading the word about National Adoption Week on Twitter. Good luck with 3 becoming 4. Hopefully 4 will become 5 here soon. Take care. Claire

  2. Hi Claire. Thank you so much for your lovely comments on my blog. Good luck with becoming 5 there! I am lucky that I know lots of adoptive parents and we belong to an online forum. Come and join us at http://www.babyworld.co.uk. There are a fab bunch of ladies there and we are all very supportive of one another. Best wishes to you. Gem x

  3. I am amazed and even angry that it took over a year for you to get Katie from the time they approved you to adopt her. she could have been with you from the age of 1. Why does it take so long? Katie was lucky that she was with loving foster parents but older children would know that they didn't have a proper family - do they also have to wait a year?

  4. Hi and thank you for your comment. I've just re-read my post above to see if there was a typo on the timescales but I don't think there was. There was actually only 3 months from us being approved until we met Katie for the first time. Sorry if anything I've written has caused confusion. Thank you for being angry on our behalf though. Best wishes Gem x

    1. Sorry, I read the February 2010 and registered it as a year earlier. I'm very relieved that I was wrong. Thanks for your reply.

  5. Hi Gem, gosh you went through such a lot of heartbreak but I'm so happy for you that you now have a lovely little girl to cherish. We went to panel very shortly after you - January 2010 - and our Katie came to live with us at the end of that month so I can identify with that feeling of panic to get everything ready and, like you said, all those little jobs finally done. It's great to read your blog, something I've considered doing too, so yours just might spur me into action at last! xx

  6. Hiya Janet. We have many parallels between us and our Katie's! Lovely to meet you here and I look forward to chatting more with you. It's great writing a blog I think and I'm hoping it will be a lovely record for Katie as she grows up. Let me know if you get going with one. xx