October 21, 2015
*Names have been changed for reasons of confidentiality
We always wanted to have children. When it turned out that we were very unlikely to have them naturally, adoption seemed the obvious choice. So we approached SFCS, and were eventually approved as adopters.
When it came to finding our children, we attended an Adoption Activity Day, where dozens of potential parents came to play, talk and interact with a large number of children awaiting adoption. I expected this to be a heart-rending occasion, but in fact it was a happy day with a good atmosphere, and the children all seemed to be having fun.
I fell in love with our children pretty much as soon as I met them in the soft play area. Our social worker spoke to their social worker and we got to spend some more time with them while they ate their lunch. We knew these were the children we wanted to adopt.
After the Adoption Activity Day, the formal matching process could begin. SFCS worked with the Local Authority responsible for Maisie and Aaron’s care, and we eventually attended a ‘matching panel’, which approved us as parents for them both. The process of being matched with a child or children in Local Authority care can seem frustrating at times, but thankfully we had an excellent social worker at SFCS, who helped to keep things moving along.
When they finally came to live with us, Maisie was almost five years old and Aaron was two years old. To be honest I was surprised at how hard it was for the first weeks and months. Going from childless couple to parents of two overnight was a big shock, both physically and emotionally.
One of our children showed a lot of disturbed behaviour. Whilst we had been prepared for this through the SFCS training, the reality is very different from just reading about it or even seeing videos. We were very thankful for the support of our social worker and others at SFCS, which helped us keep going until things improved and we learned more parenting skills.
There are lots of things potential adopters can do to help prepare themselves for becoming parents, outside of the extensive SFCS training. I would advise spending as much time as possible with children – the children of family and friends, or you could volunteer at a local play group, Scout group etc. This experience helps you feel more at ease with children and better equipped to parent.
Also, you should talk with others who have adopted if you can, so that you can prepare yourself as fully as possible (SFCS run a Buddy Scheme for this very purpose). You should also get support networks in place, including simple practical things like the occasional babysit or meal to make things easier and give you a break – a good idea for any new parent, really!
Our lives have changed in so many ways since we adopted Maisie and Aaron. We are now a family, which is a wonderful thing. It also means our lives are no longer fully our own, which has made me realise how selfish I can be! Children need such a lot of care and put a lot of demands on us, so we make a point of finding time together as a couple – we particularly need to support and encourage each other and keep our sense of self.
In the adoption framework, our children were deemed ‘hard to place’ – they are a sibling group of two, and Maisie is an ‘older child’. As she was older when they were taken into care, she was more aware of their situation and it subsequently had a more profound impact on her than on her younger brother.
Maisie’s previous life experience does mean more challenges – for her predominantly, and of course also for us. On the other hand she is such a brave, sweet and gorgeous girl – we are very proud of her and love to celebrate her achievements and milestones. Bringing her up is in some ways an act of redemption, pouring love and help into a life that was damaged, but far from beyond repair.
The children make us laugh a lot, and we really enjoy them both. It’s really satisfying to see that our love and care is helping them to grow well.
If you are considering adoption, you can find out more about our adoption service here. If you’d like to find out about adopting siblings, you can read more on our Adopt Siblings with SFCS page. 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.