‘We hope our children will never remember the day we told them this about us’06/16/2019
This Father’s Day is going to be extra special.
Eighteen months ago, my husband James and I had no kids, but now we’re a family of four – and we didn’t take the conventional path to get here.
I can’t remember a time when I hadn’t known I wanted to adopt.
I met James when we were 20, and right from the start I told him about my dreams of adopting, because it was important that he knew.
Adoption just seemed like the perfect way to grow our family and give children a loving home who might not have one otherwise.
When James proposed in 2015, I said, ‘You do know I was serious about the adoption thing?’
But he was on board with it.
He’s so chilled out and he could see how much it meant to me.
I knew I wanted to experience being pregnant one day, but after a lot of discussion we decided to adopt before trying for our own.
We thought it would be more complicated to settle adopted kids into our home if we already had biological ones.
Beginning the process
Twelve months into our marriage, we started the adoption process.
The process was full of highs and lows.
When you’re pregnant, you’ve got a bump to look at and people talk to you about it, but when you’re adopting a lot of people don’t know what to say.
Our social worker was amazing and had a child in mind for us from the start: an eight-month-old boy, whose mum was pregnant again.
We had registered as being open to adopting siblings, as there are twins in both our families, so the idea didn’t faze us.
But it was a lot to consider.
He would move in with us, and just a few months later we would foster his little sister (the laws around adoption mean a child must be fostered for six months before being given a permanent home, to give the birth parents time to prove whether they are capable of caring).
We talked it through with family members and immediately felt at peace with the idea.
There are a lot of things to weigh up when adopting, like whether the birth mother drank during pregnancy, or if there may be any developmental delays further down the line.
But I’ve spent several years working in early years childcare with children with special needs, and we felt like we could cope.
The baby’s mum had previously had a child taken away by social services, and as a result our little boy had been removed at birth.
He’d spent several months with a foster carer, with regular contact sessions with his birth mother to establish whether she would be able to care for him, but it was soon confirmed that she wouldn’t be able to give him the stability and care he needed.
When we met our little boy, Casey*, it was love at first sight.
When the foster carer said, ‘Your mummy and daddy are here,’ I wanted to cry.
We had a transition week where we would spend up to 12 hours a day with him and the foster carer.
I just didn’t want to leave him behind at the end of each day, because I already felt like he was my son.
Bringing him home in November 2017 was incredible and we were both besotted with him.
We had three and half blissful months with Casey, then we began to gear up for baby number two: Ceira*.
I convinced myself it would be like having twins, but of course they needed completely different things at the same time.
Baby number two
For the first six months of Ceira’s life, we were facilitating visits with her birth parents three times a week.
It was really tough, because she would get very upset by them, and it was harrowing to leave her there and pick her up later, still upset.
It’s always a risk with fostering a newborn that the parents might change their mind, or put another family member forward, which can be very traumatic.
But we knew this family was unlikely to make the necessary changes needed by the court.
Finally adopting Ceira was a huge relief and one of the best days of our lives.
Soon afterwards, Casey and Ceira’s mum was pregnant again.
We were asked to consider adopting the child, but we knew we couldn’t cope with three under three.
It wouldn’t be fair, as we wouldn’t have been able to give them the care and attention they needed.
What the future holds
I feel sorry for the birth mother.
She hasn’t had an easy life, and I imagine if she hasn’t had a lot of attention, she might enjoy the feelings of support she gets when she has a bump.
When they’re older, Ceira and Casey will be able to explore contact options with their other siblings, and we’ll support them if they want to pursue meeting their birth parents.
Our hope is that Ceira and Casey will never remember the day they were told they were adopted.
We chat about it openly and have storybooks we read about adoption, so hopefully it will never feel like a shock.
James and I went on a date night to watch Instant Family (where a couple adopt three young siblings) at the cinema and I cried my eyes out, because I related to so much of it.
We’re lucky in the UK that adopting is free – in many other countries it can be extremely expensive.
We were even paid a fostering fee before we adopted Ceira.
Having more children isn’t a must for us, but we’re enjoying being parents so much that we can see ourselves having six kids.
During the adoption process we were told that welcoming more kids into our lives may be difficult if the children we adopted had been through grief and trauma, but luckily Ceira and Casey seem well-adjusted.
I’d really like to carry a child, but we’d consider more adoptions too.
Honestly, we’ve enjoyed parenthood more than we ever could have imagined.
‘I think of Ceira and Casey entirely as my own, and I don’t see any difference between having a biological child or adopting.
Once they’re home, they’re your kids.
Some people ask why we choose to adopt over having biological kids, but as soon as you explain that we wanted to give children in care a happy, stable home, people think it’s great.
Coming home from work and having Casey run up to me and say, ‘Daddy’ is the best feeling in the world.
It’s hard to remember life without them now.
This Father’s Day is our first one as a family of four and I can’t wait.
I know Aimee has got Ceira a little outfit that says, ‘My first Father’s Day’ which she will look adorable in.
Sometimes it doesn’t seem real and I have to pinch myself that we have such lovely little ones.’
*Children’s names have been changed.
Adoption: The facts
– In 2018, there were 75,420 children in care, a 4% rise from the year before.
– The same year, 3,820 children were adopted from care, but a further 4,020 were left waiting for homes.
– Adoption approval by the local council takes an average of six months.
– 89% of children were adopted by couples, while 11% found good homes with single adopters.
NB: Barnardo’s, the leading children’s charity, is calling for more adopters to come forward and welcome a child into their lives. CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS
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