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March 08, 2019
*All names have been changed for reasons of confidentiality
This might sound really silly, but we were watching a David Attenborough programme and he was explaining it is in our genes to want to procreate and pass our knowledge/experience on to our next of kin. It got me thinking; we had settled in the home of our achievable dreams and we had nobody to pass it on to, and also we had nobody to teach our values and experiences to.
I chatted to Will about my thoughts and to my surprise he felt exactly the same. We agreed that we did not want to go down the route of surrogacy, and we thought that we could provide a vulnerable child or two with a good life. We agreed that we should investigate the possibilities of adoption.
A friend of mine had recently adopted a little boy through St. Francis’ Children’s Society and expressed the professionalism of all the staff there, and so we attended an adoption information event. We were very nervous but enjoyed the relaxed sit down talk. We also met a woman who had recently adopted two boys with SFCS. She and her partner were a same sex couple, so that was quite reassuring to us.
The whole process was very efficient, but quite intrusive of our lives. But we understood that SFCS knew nothing of us. To ensure that we would be suitable to adopt and subsequently match us with the right children, they would need to know everything about ourselves and our families.
I found dealing with my own past demons tough, such as my own experience of sexual assault when I was 10. I thought that our adoption application was going to be rejected because of this. Also, I had suffered depression 2 years prior to us applying and I was anxious that my illness was going to be an issue. But I have to say that SFCS did nothing but support me.
One thing I will say is LEAVE NOTHING OUT. If you divulge all your life to your social workers a) you are dealing with your past and b) your match will be perfect for you.
We both learnt a lot during the adoption process as SFCS put us through an amazing training program. You learn a lot about the brain and its development, also how to therapeutically play using Theraplay®. I was not expecting that.
Prior to panel, our social worker had told us what to expect from the process of searching for children, and showed us a website called Linkmaker. We saw a couple of children that seemed perfect for us as their interests were just the same as ours. Unfortunately they were not available to us due to location, so we had to put that to bed and look at others.
After being approved at the very scary panel meeting, we sorted through an abundance of children’s profiles, but they didn’t seem to be right for us. We showed interest in a few but still felt that it wasn’t quite right.
We had social workers emailing us from all over the country showing interest in us too as adopters, which we found quite encouraging. One email arrived regarding brothers I happened to recognise as the boys we saw originally on Linkmaker, way back before panel. We couldn’t believe our luck! We immediately showed interest and before long a meeting with two social workers and a family finder was set up.
After the meeting, we had a phone call to say that we were being considered as the boys’ future family and matching began.
The whole matching process was gruelling and intense; lots of traveling across the country for meetings with foster carers, schools, medical professionals, child psychologists and everyone that had a hand in the boys’ welfare and future.
A ‘chance meeting’ with the boys was set up so we could see them in the flesh. The meeting was in a garden centre. It sounds strange, but we followed the children and the foster carers round the store for about an hour! We then went for a coffee in the restaurant and were directed to sit on the table next to them. Only the foster carers and the children’s social worker knew who we were. Unprompted, our youngest boy came over and said hello to us, unbeknown to him that we were his future parents. It was so surreal.
Matching panel came shortly after that and we flew through it. It was then time to set up a date to begin introductions.
Introductions. Wow, what can I say? It was fantastic and yet stressful too. We had a week at the foster carer’s house, staying in a nearby hotel and spending a little more time with the boys each day. Then the second week was in our town, with the boys finally staying with us overnight.
This process has been tried and tested thousands and thousands of times and it obviously works for the children. I can say this because our children got through it and are very settled. However, it is very stressful so it is vital to pull on your resources – friends, family, social workers – to give you support and encouragement. We needed this support, if only to keep our sanity, as this was when we realised that our life had completely changed. The realisation of what we had undertaken really set in.
No one tells you how difficult it is when these little strangers move into your home. They smelt different from us, they talked differently to us and you feel like you are supposed to love them immediately, but you don’t. That is a big deal because all you want to do is love them, but of course love between people has to grow – it does not come straight away.
During this time, we accessed support from a child psychologist who called us on the phone to talk about the changes we have had to deal with. I have to say he was amazing, and so were SFCS. They continued to be extremely supportive, putting us in touch with other couples that had been through the same process as us. I personally spoke to the woman we saw at our first group chat and she put my mind at rest.
Slowly but surely, as we got into our new routine, things started to get better. We had daily behavioural challenges to overcome but we faced this with an understanding of what our children were going through at the time.
After about four months, we accessed yet another of SFCS’s support programmes – the Therapeutic Parenting Course. This was very informative. It helped us understand why our children were displaying certain behaviours and offered lots of alternative ways we could address it.
It has now been a year since placement and our little family are a proper unit. We genuinely adore them and they do us too. Yes, our life has completely changed; our freedom to do what we want when we want has gone, but we do so much more now with the children. They make us laugh every day.
The other day our eldest told me he loved me for the first time and I melted. It was so genuine and it came from out the blue. This and the time our youngest winked at me so cheekily are my two favourite moments so far, but Christmas was a very special time for all of us too.
If I was to offer advice to someone from the LGBT+ community who was considering adoption, I would say adopt with an independent organisation such as SFCS. This journey is an emotional rollercoaster and their support is invaluable and much needed. They also make it very educational.
Same sex couples are not only valid parents but in my opinion sometimes necessary. Take a child who has suffered abuse from one particular sex i.e a mother or female guardian. It may be that in some cases that child may have developed a mistrust towards females and for them an all male couple could be a better option in order for them to feel safe. The child could then be introduced to more positive female role models such as family and friends etc.
I do hope our story encourages more members of the LGBT+ community to follow their dream of becoming a parent. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worth it.
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.