We came to adoption, like many, through infertility. Our social worker struggled initially with our ages – at approval I was 27, my husband had turned 31 the day before our approval panel, in fact we were the youngest adopters in our county at the time! But we found out early that we couldn’t have children and so adoption was a natural step for us.
After being put off because of our circumstances - hadn’t lived on our own long enough, hadn’t been married long, my father had recently passed away, I’d been a smoker…we were finally accepted and attended our preparation course in December 2006 and started our homestudy in March 2007. Many struggle with this part of the process, but my hubby and I enjoyed this journey of self-discovery and learning. We never saw it as jumping through hoops like many do. We absorbed as much as we could, we read books and research, engaged in forums, talked and talked and talked, met other adopters, and worked hard at our homework. It paid off, and in September 2007 we were approved for 1 child age 0-2. We struggled slightly when we were going through the list of disabilities and illnesses that we could and couldn’t cope with…it is bizarre, but necessary, and our social worker helped us see that there were certain things we thought we’d cope with, but in reality, we probably couldn’t. Some people also specify whether they’d prefer a boy or a girl – we didn’t, and we genuinely didn’t mind.
Just 2 weeks after our approval, our social worker approached us with details of a child – a little boy, who was then just 10months old. On paper he sounded perfect, and although he obviously had a background, and his siblings had experienced a really hard time, nothing seemed as traumatic as we’d prepared for. After a few days of thinking and reading reports about this child and his birth family, and learning about 10month old children, we decided to proceed. His social worker visited us and she was also happy to proceed – that was it – our child had been found, we’d been linked! It was at this meeting we got to see some photos of the little boy who eventually become our son – Mini.
We then had a long wait until we were able to be squeezed into a matching meeting – January, but this gave us time to prepare – decorate and buy furniture, we got to meet Mini’s foster carer, we were given a video of Mini, we made a video and book about us for Mini to have before he met us.
Finally our day came, and a week later we had our placement planning meeting in the morning, and met our son in the afternoon. We had 10 days of intense introductions – a strange process, sitting in a stranger’s house, trying to bond with a child with people watching, learning how to be a mum and respond to his needs. Our introductions period wasn’t easy – my husband struggled with suddenly stopping work and being thrown into this artificial situation. He nearly backed out the day before Mini moved in and I don’t know how we actually managed to carry on with it all, especially after he was then diagnosed with post adoption depression. But, we did, and Mini has been here almost 5 years and we’re proud mum and dad to a gorgeous boy.
However, Mini has issues that stem from his early life, and although on paper we thought all was fine, he has been affected hugely by his beginnings and we were naïve to not question things further. Inconsistent care, different caregivers and contact sessions with his birth family have all had an enormous impact on Mini, and we’re in the process of getting help and therapy, and trying a different parenting style so that he learns he is safe here, and that we love him and won’t be letting him go anywhere else! We also need to do some work with him in the future as Mini struggles with knowing that he is different to his sister – Dollop, who I gave birth to almost 2 and a half years after Mini moved in.
Now I’m a mum of two children who came to me in different ways, I can honestly say that I feel the same love, the same fierce mother’s instinct and will to protect towards them both equally.
Adopting is difficult and it presents many challenges but it made my family what it is.