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March 29, 2017
* Names have been changed for reasons of confidentiality
Our adoption story began in January 2014, when we made our first phonecall to SFCS. We were hoping to adopt two siblings; we believed that, as sibling groups are difficult to place, it should put us in good position to get a match. Initially we entered the adoption process very naively, believing that the only problem we would face is having to turn down potential matches, due to numbers of children out-weighing numbers of prospective adopters. We soon realised how wrong we were.
The process of becoming an approved adopter was challenging at times, with all of the interviews and the various training courses. We had spoken to other adopters who had gone through the process and were aware of the intrusive and intimate questions we would face about our lifestyle and personal life. We also had an idea of how emotional the training courses would be.
I found the preparation training very informative and helpful. The training rightly focused on the children, their needs and the impact of their past. It covered loss, attachment issues, child trauma, various types of abuse, and how to parent children with these issues.
We did feel at times the training focused on the worst case scenario. However, we know that this is done to ensure that prospective adopters begin their journey with their eyes wide open.
We eventually met with the adoption panel in August 2014. We were nervous, but by that point it was out of our control – we had done all we could. Thankfully, we got a unanimous ‘yes’.
Now that we were approved, we could join the Adoption UK, BAAF and Adoptionlink websites. These sites enabled us to look at children’s profiles ourselves and to share our profiles with the children’s social workers.
By Christmas, we had suffered 20 rejections. January, February, March went by with still more rejections. All through this period, our social worker assured us that we would make good parents and that the right children were out there for us.
At the beginning of April, we finally received the call we’d been waiting for. The social workers of two sisters we had shown an interest in wanted to meet us to discuss a potential match. We were so excited as we prepared for that first meeting.
The meeting was a success and we thought everything was progressing normally. We kept re-reading the girls’ profiles, feeling more and more attached and excited about our new daughters. We tentatively started making plans and buying a few things to make the girls comfortable in their new home.
Two weeks later, the match was put on hold by the local authority, as they wanted to explore options with another set of potential adopters. We were devastated.
After a short while, we were informed that the girls’ local authority had decided to place them with the other adopters. We had lost our daughters. All our dreams and hopes of having a ‘forever family’ had been taken away and there was nothing we could do about it.
What had we done wrong? What was wrong with us as a couple? Is there something we had missed? Our social worker kept telling us we were not at fault and we were going to make good parents, but it was so difficult to believe at the time.
We tried to move on and kept looking at other children’s profiles, trying to fall out of love with the children that we never had. We had to take some time out from the process to come to terms with the loss.
By September 2015 we learnt that, having been the first couple from our original training group to be approved, we were now the only couple from the group who had not been matched with children. We were at one of our lowest points. Up until then, we had always been able to keep one another going by believing that a match would happen. Should we just give up the whole process and accept we would never be parents?
Our social worker knew how hard we had worked for this and really believed in us, and convinced us to continue. So we decided to give it until the end of 2016, at which point we would try to come to terms with a life without children.
We continued attending more matching evenings and other events. Then in November, we were contacted by our social worker saying we had once again been shortlisted for two children – this time a 2-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy. Once again, we prepared for a meeting with their social workers, knowing we were ‘in competition’ with another couple and a friend of the birth mother who had been put forward as a potential Special Guardian.
After months of meetings, and delays caused by the possibility of a Special Guardian being appointed, we finally learned that the children’s social workers had picked us. We were excited as before, but still very cautious.
Over the next few weeks, we started receiving feedback from the social worker and dates were set for interviews, meetings and even matching panel. We were also getting reports on the children from their nursery and their foster carer. We were learning about the children’s personalities and we were starting to fall in love with them, even though we were trying to protect ourselves from what happened before.
The closer we got to the matching panel, the more vulnerable we felt. We still believed something was going to go wrong. When the day arrived, after what felt like forever, we received a unanimous ‘yes’. We just stood there in shock. Then it started to sink in that we were going to get the family we wanted so much. We were now going to be a mum and dad.
The introduction period with our children took place over one week. We spent more and more time with the children each day, doing various activities with them such as the morning routine, feeding them, taking them out, bath time, bedtime and so on. On the last day of the introductions, they came to our house for the first time.
Shortly afterwards, our children moved in with us. When we finally put them to bed at the end of their first day in their new family, it finally hit us what had we done. We had two tiny people upstairs who really knew nothing about us. They were so vulnerable and entirely dependent on us.
As time went on, we gradually introduced them to relatives and friends, and they started to build relationships. In the early days, it was the little things that caught us out. We didn’t immediately know the answer to questions like, “What flavour ice-cream do your kids like?”, “What shoe size are they?”, “How long have they worn glasses for?”. When our son asked for ‘dip dip’, we had no idea that he actually wanted tomato sauce. It was a massive adjustment for everyone.
After 10 weeks we put in the request for the adoption order and waited. After a few more painful delays, a judge eventually signed the adoption order, giving us the ‘forever family’ we had always dreamed of. We told the children that they were never going to have to move again, as they will always be part of our forever family.
We have just spent our first family Christmas together – no meltdowns, some regression, but mostly just fun. Was it a horrible journey getting to where we are now? Yes. Are there many more challenges and unknown issues ahead of us? Of course – but that’s just parenthood for you.
Ours has been a particularly difficult journey. But it has without doubt been worth all the heartache. We could not have had a better-suited match with our children. It’s as if we’d written a list of everything we wanted in our children and been granted all our wishes. Hopefully they feel the same about us!
We love being parents and, yes, we know we have many more challenges to come. But we only have to look into the faces of our children to know we will deal with whatever comes up.
If you are considering adoption, you can find out more about our Adoption Connections service here. You can also check out our adoption resources, read more real adoption stories and find out about our next information events. And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us – we’d love to hear from you.