Like many three year olds, last year my daughter started to express interest in having a sibling.
Her friends were getting brothers and sisters, and so the mum guilt started to hit. But however much my husband and I wanted to expand our family, I knew that I never wanted to go through pregnancy again.
I hadn’t had any problems getting pregnant, but I’d had several miscarriages before my daughter was born in 2016. No pregnancy was the same after I had a miscarriage.
When I was carrying my daughter, my mental health just plummeted. For those nine months, I didn’t really allow myself to accept that I was pregnant because I was just so terrified of losing her, even up to the point of the birth, which itself was traumatic.
I ended up having an emergency C-section, which in my head made me think that I was losing her.
Luckily, she arrived in this world a healthy little girl. But, looking back on the experience, I probably wouldn’t recognise myself. I struggle to remember that time positively.
My husband, Sam, and I, now in our mid 20s, were adamant that we wanted the experience of bringing a child into the family to be a positive one. We knew that pregnancy wasn’t it, so we started exploring adoption.
In October last year, we began the process with the Yorkshire Adoption Agency. When we met the staff, I just sat there feeling so excited at the idea of growing the family in a way that there wasn’t so much responsibility on myself. I was ecstatic about the prospect.
Over the next few months, there were extensive visits from the social worker, where they sifted through every single bit of our lives. And in December we signed a contract with the agency to begin the process. We went through last Christmas knowing it was probably the last one we would be having as a family of three.
Next came the intensive assessments, where we saw our social worker every week. Each session had a topic, such as childhood, education, family and relationships, marriage, motivation to adopt.
This lasts about three months, and all the information is compiled into a prospective adopters’ report, which is about 90 pages long. In May – via Zoom – we got approved by the adoption panel.
Six weeks before the panel, we were able to start family finding. Via the agency, we were connected with a private website where you can look through children’s profiles. Although it’s sad there are so many children on there, I know it serves a purpose and helps them find their families quicker.
One Saturday morning, while I was out of the house on my way to do a food shop, our social worker sent us an email with ‘baby profile’ in the subject line. I didn’t even go into the supermarket, just went straight home. My husband and I went through it together and it was a two-page profile of our little boy.
We fell in love instantly.
His photo grabbed us and we felt like there were lots of similarities between his background and our own and he was less than a year old.
We were looking for a child that was 0-2, which is rare to find. As we also had a biological child, we needed to be really mindful of any additional needs we brought into the house so that we could ensure that we parented consistently.
We felt that the children would get along well. There was a good age gap between them, which would help ensure the dynamics of the house were right for our daughter so she didn’t feel threatened by a child of a similar age coming in.
We had to wait four more weeks until we were unanimously approved by the panel, and then we could start the process of being officially matched and meeting him, which was done over the course of several weeks.
We explained to our daughter that her new sibling had a ‘tummy mummy’ and she was heavily involved in the process through having her own time with our social worker and forming a big part of our report, which is why we loved our agency.
She knew that our social worker was there to help mummy and daddy find a brother or sister, so she had a good understanding of what was happening. She’s told all her friends and teachers about it; it’s something she’s really proud of and she’s been a gem throughout.
Two months ago, the day finally came when we could bring him home.
We’d had two weeks of really intense introductions so he was ready and knew that we were ‘mummy and daddy’.
We went to the foster carer’s in the morning, as we had been doing every day. After about 30 minutes there, the foster carer hands over the child to the new mum and dad. That’s symbolic to the child that they trust these people with you. It’s very significant – and emotional.
When we got home, we tried to keep it as normal as possible and played in the garden. It wasn’t until we put him to bed that it really hit us that we had two children upstairs.
It was a really emotional and tough day. We reflected that adoption comes with so much loss to the birth family as well. They would have been aware that he’d be going to his new home and his new family, so I thought they would be grieving. Although it’s a really happy day, there is also a hint of loss and sadness.
Since then, we’ve been really lucky at how well everyone has settled in, and the pandemic has actually helped as it’s forced us to stay at home as a family. We gradually introduced him to family and friends and he has taken to them so well.
He is just such a happy little boy. He is one now and so for a young baby who has had quite a lot of change in his life, he is just an absolute dream.
Our daughter is wonderful with him. At first it was constant love and attention, but now they very much have a typical sibling relationship, which alternates between playing and falling out over sharing. She has really taken to being a big sister.
Although the process for us ran smoothly and everyone was really positive, it can be challenging.
One thing that a lot of adopters struggle with is the fact that you can feel judged by social workers who are interviewing you, as they have to delve into your background and history.
You have to jump through a lot of hoops to get there, whereas if you have biological children you don’t have to do any of that and that’s quite a difficult thing to deal with.
My husband and I were really prepared for this. We had been told how the process would work and that we might have to discuss things that we were uncomfortable with, such as past challenges in our relationships, any mental health issues, deaths or divorces in the family.
But those challenges made us more resilient people, which is what agencies and councils want to see in adopters.
Because we are a young family with a biological child, a lot of people didn’t expect us to adopt. People sometimes assume people only adopt because they are infertile or in a same sex couple but there’s not an ideal profile.
Anybody can do it because it is a choice, not a last resort.
Adoption Month is a month-long series covering all aspects of adoption.
For the next four weeks, which includes National Adoption Week from October 14-19, we will be speaking to people who have been affected by adoption in some way, from those who chose to welcome someone else’s child into their family to others who were that child.
We’ll also be talking to experts in the field and answering as many questions as possible associated with adoption, as well as offering invaluable advice along the way.
If you have a story to tell or want to share any of your own advice please do get in touch at [email protected]
- Why we’re talking about adoption this month
- How to adopt a child – from how long it takes to how you can prepare
- The most Googled questions on adoption, answered
- How long does it take to adopt a child in the UK
- Adoption myths that could be stopping you from starting a family
- How to tell your child they are adopted
Visit our Adoption Month page for more.
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