A Story of Adoption – Being adopted is something that will forever be a part of me -

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My name is Gerry, I am 31 and am currently training to be a teacher for drama in secondary schools. I was fostered at the age of 2 along with my older brother and younger sister. When I was 4 all three of us moved from Croydon to Wales to live with our adoptive parents together. Due to the low percentages of three siblings being adopted together, my brother and I were placed in one foster home and my sister, being a baby at this time, was placed in a separate one. Being two years old myself, I didn’t really understand what was going on at the time as at this moment in time. A year later we were all moved back into one foster home. I presume, this was due to my parents wanting us all together.

I don’t remember much of the adoption process being so young at the time. I vaguely remember meeting my adopted parents at my foster home, not really knowing who they were several times. I remember sitting in my parents’ car and leaving the foster home, not aware of where we were going.  The process of being fostered, separated from my sister and moving to a forever family was scary in truth. The age we all were, made it difficult to comprehend what exactly was going on no matter how many people tried explaining it to us. This left me feeling unsettled, defensive and prickly once we had moved in with our adopted parents. I would say it was the first year that was the hardest.  I felt out of place, insecure and unaware of where I was and why I had moved again for the third time in 2 years with three different families. I remember feeling so out of my comfort zone that I didn’t call my mother ‘mum’ for that first year of us moving, only using her first name to converse with her, which she must have found so hard. I also followed my brother everywhere for that year, using him as my constant, my stability, the familiar thing I had in an unfamiliar environment.  When we were at school, my sister would get so upset and cry because she was so confused and overwhelmed about what was going on in our lives at that point. The teachers would call me in from the class next door to comfort her. After she stopped crying, I would go back to my class and have a little cry myself, struggling to comprehend the massive change that had happened to us.

My parents were fantastic. They were patient, caring, kind, understanding and most importantly loving. They let the three of us open up in our own time, not pressuring any of us to consider us a family until we were ready in our own minds. they did things with us, bike rides, playing football in the garden, where my father would be the goalie and announce our entrances as we came running out onto the pitch. We joined local football teams, cubs/scouts, gym club, school teams, made friends at school etc. we were introduced to the rest of the family, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and close family friends. My parents gave us every opportunity to fit in and feel comfortable and, slowly, through that first-year, things began to fall into place and we felt more and more like a family and like this place was our home.

In July 1997 we were certified as being adopted, I was seven years old by this point. This was three years after we had moved in with our parents. The day was very odd to me as by this time I considered us to be an ordinary, everyday, run of the mill family. The fact that we had to attend court and see a judge was confusing for me. I remember that my family and I were stood to the right of the judge and there were people we knew, friends, family and social workers stood to the left of him. The whole occasion felt weird and quite intimidating especially since an hour before my brother, sister and I were enjoying our schools’ sports day, which we were slightly upset about missing due to our massive competitiveness with each other. The judge looked serious and fairly frightening to me. He was sat in his big chair at the front of the court, raised slightly higher than the rest of us, who were standing. He could see we were all on edge and nervous.  To make us settle slightly, he removed his wig which made us all laugh and let us take photos of us sitting in his massive chair (which I still keep on my bedside table). I don’t remember much else from this day other than the judge asking some questions and everyone clapping. Before we left, the judge spoke about marking this day every year in celebration. We did this by having a meal together in the same restaurant every year. For me, the whole day was weird and slightly surreal…..but I got a Chinese out of it and so had little to complain about!

After this day there was nothing that I felt made us different from any other family. Life seemed simply ordinary to us, except for the fact that when people found out, they often thought it fascinating. You couldn’t stand a few families in a row and pick us out as the ones who were adopted.

I strongly feel that I was lucky to be adopted with my siblings. It was such a big comfort to have two people with me who understood exactly what I was going through because, in all honesty, no one does. Not even adoptive parents can understand or relate to how you feel when you are taken from one home and placed in another sometimes several times before you are told this one is your forever family. But when I found times difficult, especially in that first year. I could go to my brother or sister and they would get it completely which was unbelievably reassuring.

The three of us went onto to college and all of us received degrees at university. I have a qualification that allows me to teach English anywhere in the world and went on to act professionally after my degree. I spent 6 months touring the whole of Italy, teaching English through drama, I spent another 6 months touring California coaching soccer to 4- to 14-year-olds. I trekked through the Himalayas and spent a month in north Queensland of Australia. I am now training to be a teacher of drama. Without my family, I could not have done any of it. Without the stability of my brother and sister, I would not have felt safe when I moved to a strange place. without the patience, love, care, guidance and support from not just my parents but my whole family, I would not have grasped the ambition to achieve my goals and become the person I am today. Without the family net that we had as children, the grandparents, aunts, uncles, close friends. I would not have the courage to take risks and know that if I fall or get something wrong, my family will be there no matter what, brush me off and tell me to try again. These people are the reason I am who I am today and I could not be more grateful for my family and for being adopted.

I have said that we as a family didn’t feel different to any other. This does not mean that I don’t feel adopted, but rather that we embraced our adoption and were so thankful for it. Being adopted is something that will forever be a part of me, which is meant in the most happy and positive way I can think of.

Last month, we received this letter from Hope who is 9 years old.  Hope’s Mum and Dad adopted her little sister with St. David’s a couple of years ago and this is Hope’s story.

Our Adoption Journey – By Hope aged 9.

 

When I was six years old my Mum and Dad talked about adopting a little girl or boy. I thought it was a great idea so did my brother too. I think you should as well.

A few months later Mum and Dad went on a course about adoption and me and my brother had to stay with my Nan and Granny for a day or two whilst they were on a course.

They found a perfect social worker for us. Her name was Cate, she was brilliant. She asked us some questions like “do you want a brother or sister?” “what do you like to do?” “how do you feel?” – those types of questions.

After six months Mum and Dad went to find out if we could adopt someone. THEY SAID YES!!!! It was so exciting, since that day we had all been getting ready. Woohoo.

Cate’s job was to find the most perfect little boy or girl.  After a few weeks she said she found a beautiful little girl.

Mum and Dad met her first. Two days later me and my brother went to visit her.  Then five days later we bought her to our house, it was so fun!

It felt very exciting but different.  I love her and I like how much me, my brother and our sister all get on so well.

We both like playing with the guinea pigs and rabbits together and we love going on the trampoline with each other. I love sharing a bedroom with her it is lovely she is the best.

By Hope aged 9

The below blog comes from Damian, a St. David’s adopter, who, with his partner, adopted twin boys. More of Damian’s blogs can be found on his website:

https://www.damiankerlin.com/

Let’s talk adoption


It’s been a while since I talked about adoption.


Next month (May 2021) marks three years since we met the boys and all of our lives changed forever. Andrew and I always knew we wanted more than one child. It was never a matter of if, but when. Initially, you worry about the practicalities. We had never had a family. How were we going to afford it? How would we fit anymore than one child in our home? We only had a small car.

So, when we started the assessment process, we explained our thinking to our social worker, who was happy to process our application for one child. Or so we thought. As we navigated the adoption process with the support from our social worker and we discussed in further detail our future family, it became clear to us, that we were ready and our once reasons, were only excuses. Fortunately, our social worker had predicted this so we continued to progress through the process seamlessly.

In those days before the boys moved in, I remember staring at their empty car seats we had diligently waiting, trying to picture two children (twins to be exact), our children, in them. Now they are covered in stains and crackers crumbs. The past three years seems to have passed both as slow as forever and as fast as the blink of an eye. What did we do with all this love before them? Over the years we have had it all. Laughs. Tantrums. Lack of sleep. Hitting.

You name it, we have had it.

Are these adoption related? Yes and no.

Over the years we have learned to identify behaviours which are related to and the effects of their early childhood trauma. The rest is down to not getting their own way, tiredness, growing up and learning how to handle their emotions and some days, whichever way the wind blows. You know, the ‘normal’ stuff.

Their whirlwind tantrums, how the simplest and most menial tasks can take hours, I feel, when that moment of peace finally comes, that we got through something huge, and I say, ‘If you two were anyone else, that would not have been cool.’ I mean it. I would not take that crap from anyone else. In so many ways being an adoptive parent is exactly as joyful, relentless, messy and profound as being any parent.

We don’t have crystal ball. We can’t predict the future. There will be many hurdles (their teenage years!), but there will be so much joy. We prepare as best we can, as we continue to learn from each other through a space of understanding, openness, honesty and love. No painting of perfection.

This future was not always predicted for our boys. When they went into the care system and due to their early childhood experience, there were initial conversations that they would need to be split up. The thought of this breaks my heart, but this is the reality for so many children across the country. Sibling groups are being split up as social services struggle to find them their forever home.

Last week You Can Adopt a nationwide adopter recruitment campaign which aims to raise awareness of adoption and bust myths around who is eligible to adopt launched Brothers and Sisters. A new campaign aimed at potential adopters & approved adopters to consider adopting family groups and highlights the benefits of adopting brothers and sisters together.

There are currently 2,030 children waiting to be adopted in England, of those 890 are part of a family group. 520 children who are part of a sibling group have been waiting for 18 months or more to find a home.

Adopting two (or more) children definitely comes with it challenges, but the bond between our two is one of my favourite things to watch develop, grow and thrive. They are the best of friends and like every best friend they have their up and downs but they are never not there for each other. They would not be the children they are now if they had been split up and in my honest opinion it would have been hugely detrimental to their long-term mental health.

If you are thinking about adopting, or only considering it, please check out You Can Adopt’s latest campaign because you may find you have more room, a little more money, and that car, may not be as small as you think.

There is no denying it – it is hard!

I would love to be able to say that 13 weeks in, we have established a new routine, a new normal, and every day is full of new opportunity and delight, but this is no fairytale. The reality is we take each day as it comes: some are truly inspiring and give you a glimmer of hope, that maybe you do actually have your sh*t together, while others we plough through with our heads down.

Routine was once a formidable safety blanket, but introducing and more importantly maintaining a new structure in a two up, two down terrace house, which is no longer just their home, but now an office, a gym, a playground, a school and canteen, is just damn-near impossible. Their emotions are shot, my children have already grieved heavily in the past. The loss of their birth family, their foster family, and now this.

I understand to many, they may feel I am over exaggerating, but the truth is our five year olds have experienced more trauma than many of us will face in a lifetime, and to have their routine, family and friends suddenly stripped from them alongside the emotional anguish attached is an experience they only know too well.

After the honeymoon period of being at home with Dad and Dadi ended, about two weeks in, the realisation that this wasn’t going away hit. Their behaviours started to regress, and past feelings, along with their dragon-like tantrums, started to raise their ugly head again. Chaos well and truly descended!

So, we took each day as it came, reverting back to old tactics which we were first introduced to from their foster family. Their days became structured around their meal times, breakfast, lunch and dinner, because as long as they knew they wouldn’t go hungry, which they once did, they felt secure. We then dotted in some home-schooling, garden play, PE with Joe Wicks (who I hope to never have in my living room again) around this, keeping it very much lead by them.

We vastly reduced the number of video calls. We discovered as time went on that they could unsettle the boys. The presence of a family or friend, on a screen, in our house, with only verbal interaction combined with their already mixed feelings of uncertainty, and lack of understanding only enticed their already hyper vigilant and sometimes manic behaviour. Instead, we hold off video calls until they ask, which is usually when they are excited to tell them something or want to show something off.

I myself have also struggled. Just before lockdown I was made redundant from a job I loved. Not to be too disheartened, I had a number of very positive interviews under my belt and opportunities started to dot across the horizon, yet this all came to a halt with the uncertainty brought on by lockdown. I love the boys but, personally, being a stay at home dad was never something I desired. My career is part of my identity, something I could succeed in that was my own, but now in lockdown, and with the light at the end of the tunnel constantly on dim, it is difficult to motivate yourself when you don’t actually feel you are working towards anything.

That said, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom and now as we enter our 14th week, those dragon-like tantrums are securely reigned, they are returning to school in some shape-or-form in a couple of weeks and we can meet other families in the park.

The chorus of ‘Dadi, he hit me!’ or ‘DADIIIII, he took my toy’ will resound in my ears long after lockdown but if you had the choice, being locked down with your brother who also happens to be your best friend doesn’t seem like a bad option. The pair of them are completely different, yin & yang, but lockdown has meant that they have not only found comfort in each other, but learned to appreciate each other’s differences and enjoys each other’s company through the sharing of the others interests.

I no longer feel guilty about their screen-time and the worry that they may not develop at the same rate as their peers has well and truly been erased. Comparison is the devil and as long as they feel happy, safe and content and sleep well at night we are happy.

So, for now, whether it is a long walk or simply vegging out in front of the TV, we’ll take it, and when routine finally presents itself again, we’ll relish it but more importantly be ready!!

When our daughter’s social worker visited our home to see that we could accommodate the little person about to enter into our lives, she mentioned the “honeymoon period” that adopters often have. We said we hope that our “honeymoon period” would be as short as possible, because it’s a honeymoon for adopters but a nightmare for the adoptee.

Well, how about no honeymoon period at all?

The day we brought our daughter home wasn’t anything like we imagined it would be. We knew it was going to be a bit sad for her, but we thought there would also be happiness, excitement. Instead, it was one of the toughest days in the lives of all three of us.

The first few weeks were incredibly challenging and lonely. We had moments of happiness that felt like they were surrounded by grief and sadness. We remembered that we were told this might happen in our training, and our social worker Jane was always just a phone call away – day or night, 24/7/365.

That made it easier, and the tools that St David’s provided us with were producing results, which gave us a great sense of empowerment. We felt like “we got this”- and that whatever would be thrown at us, we can handle it.

Adopting an older child has its difficulties. It sometimes feels like we’re “sharing” her with her birth family and foster carer. She’s also burdened with so much guilt, that often if we have happy moments she’ll feel like she has to compensate by expressing her loyalty and love to the people she’s no longer with.

On the other hand, in many ways it makes things easier. She can talk and has the self awareness to help us understand what’s bothering her. She also has clear memories of her family and a connection to her past. That, we feel, takes a huge burden off her in terms of her identity and also off of us as we don’t need to “carry” her past for her – she knows what she’s been through.

There are amazing highs and devastating lows in this journey. Two weeks after our daughter moved in with us, one of our two cats of 9 years died unexpectedly. It was crushing, but we had to deal with it while we had a child who was herself grieving and finally letting out the pain that she had kept inside for a long time.

For a long time it didn’t really feel like parenting. It felt like supporting a child who was going through stuff that adults would struggle with, a child who feels like at any moment her whole world can turn on its head and once again she’ll have to start over.

Of course, when that period finally started to end after the first couple of months, other challenges came up. There’s always something, and every day has its trials and tests. But it’s different now: it feels more like parenting, she feels more and more like a child who’s confident in her place in the world. A child with a feeling of self-worth and who isn’t afraid of new experiences.

Seeing that difference in her, and hearing her social worker and other professionals say what a different girl she is to the one who moved in with us, that makes it all worth it. With St David’s amazing support, we’re doing OK.

 

I remember planning my outfit. It sounds ridiculous but I remember the conversation with my partner, Andrew, the night before we visited St David’s. I wanted something that said I was responsible but fun, light-hearted but protective, and fun but stern too. Upon realising that I didn’t own anything that could present all of that, I decided on my usual clobber – but with a smart shoe.

To be honest, Andrew and I did little to no research. We didn’t want our experience to be hindered by other people’s perspectives, or to be disillusioned by the whole process due to one person’s difficult experience. We treated it as if we were to read reviews: you always focus on the negative responses on TripAdvisor, as opposed to the positive. So we decided not to consume any of it. That didn’t stop me making up scenarios in my head, but it did stop them from being backed up with real stories, which wasn’t what I needed right then.

The next day we called into St David’s during one of their Drop-In Sessions and we couldn’t have felt more welcome. I have completely invented this trepidation, this idea that I would have to present myself as someone different. This very quickly subsided once we sat down with the social workers. Here, we were asked some questions to assess our readiness for adoption, but we never felt like we were being judged.  The discussion was informative but not overloading. It gave us the information required for us to be able to make an informed decision as to whether we wished to fill out the initial paperwork, progressing us to the next stage. This is literally: name, address, D.O.B, family pets and any other information we would like to disclose. We found ourselves filling out the initial paperwork there and then, although we weren’t pressured to and could just as easily have taken it away with us to discuss further.

Having come away from the Drop-In Session, we were glad we decided to limit our research. From St David’s information pack and the initial conversation with the social workers, we felt they would tell us what we needed to know to put us in good stead for the assessment process and the start of this journey.

You will always ask yourself: Am I ready? Am I good enough?

I felt I didn’t just have to learn how to become a Dadi, I also had to earn the right to be one.

We were asked by others and, more often, by ourselves: Is now the right time?

Were we 100% ready? Probably not – renovating your garden during introductions is not advised. But we did it, and we embraced the entire process from the start. And did we take ownership of it? Yes. Did we work through it with our social worker at a pace that was comfortable for us? Yes. Did we ask 101 and then some questions throughout, regardless of how stupid they sounded? Yes. Did it completely engulf our lives for 9 months? Yes!!

I can’t stress this enough: embrace it! The assessment process covered a wide array of topics around adoption – it succeeded in balancing the intensity of raising an adopted child, with the absolute “worth it” moments of forming a family. It is a positive, thought-provoking and informative experience, answering all the questions we had and many that we hadn’t even thought of. You may feel talking about your experiences as intrusive and daunting, but in fact it was highly therapeutic.

You are cautioned to expect problems and mentally you prepare for the worst, but to date, all has been well! We have the normal age-related behaviours and other aspects that perhaps need some fine tuning; however, all in all, it feels like they have always been here with us.  Together we have formed a strong attachment and we’re confident that we will manage any problems that occur in the future – as a family.

We have St David’s to thank for that!

In the end, it is completely worth it! We have beautiful, funny, energetic children and a very different feel to our home. Toys have taken over our house, nothing we own is clean anymore, fish fingers have become a delicacy, and we frequently hear:

“Dad, Dadi… look!”

“Good morning, Dad! Good morning Dadi!”

“I need a poo!”

“No, I don’t want to go to bed!”

And: “I love you Dad and Dadi.”

These are the sounds of our family setting. This is our story. It may not appear ‘perfect’, but that’s the best bit: it’s those bits in between, those imperfect bits, where you learn the most about each other, where you develop that trust that begins to connect you as a family.

A forever family.

 

St David’s Children Society has Drop-In hours every Tuesday and Thursday from 12pm – 2pm. Why not stop by and start your journey like Andrew and Damian?

“Don’t write off a child because of their age, it’s not their fault they’re growing older in the system” – future adopters from Llanelli support campaign to reduce numbers of children in care

A Llanelli couple in the process of adopting siblings is getting behind a new campaign to reduce the number of Welsh children in foster care who wait 12 months or more to find a permanent home.

Ben and husband Chris aged 35 and 37, are supporting Adopting Together, a new project supported by the National Adoption Service and led by St David’s Children’s Society aimed at placing children who have waited over 12 months for an adoptive family.

These children can be aged four and over, are part of sibling groups, have uncertain or additional needs, or are from a BME background

Bringing together best practice components under one, distinct model, it’s the first project of its kind to involve a specific collaboration between local authority regional adoption agencies, voluntary adoption agencies, Cardiff University, therapeutic partners and other key professionals such as medical advisors and schools.

The approach centres on an innovative model of psychological and therapeutic support for adoptive parents, both pre and post-placement*. This specific model is in addition to the established and ongoing programme of support offered to anyone who adopts through St David’s, which has been successfully placing children since 1942.

The project is also aiming to normalise access to post-adoption support, and break down barriers which might prevent people from adopting children who continue to wait for a family.

Ben and Chris, who live in Llanelli, are two of the first prospective adopters to benefit from the Adopting Together project. They are currently going through the adoption process and hope to welcome a brother and sister sibling group in the coming months.

The couple decided to explore adoption as a route to starting a family, initially thinking they would be best suited to having one or two boys, aged around two-years-old. However, a training course offered by St David’s opened their eyes to the benefits of adopting older children, so the couple widened the search to a mixed, older sibling group.

Ben explained: “The course enabled us to have more of an open mind with what we thought we were looking for, and we quickly realised there was no point overlooking children just because they didn’t fit our initial perceptions of the ‘ideal’ age. With older children, you have a much clearer picture of how they are developing than you might have with a baby.

“Our social worker from St David’s got to work straight away to find us an appropriate match, and we completely trusted them to find us children with similar interests and hobbies to us.

“The actual process itself hasn’t taken long at all – around one year by the time we’ve actually adopted if everything goes to plan.”

Ben added that the most beneficial part of the Adopting Together project so far has been the Team for the Child meeting, an intrinsic part of the new model, which brings together everyone involved in the child’s care, including psychologists, existing foster cares and social workers, to provide first-hand, real-time insights into the child/children.

He explained: “The meeting was an absolute eye-opener. Having that many people in one room together, each of whom knows the children in a different capacity, discussing their needs, was a unique opportunity.

“The meeting gave us first-hand insights into the children, using relevant and up-to-date information. We were able to question information on the children that was written in earlier reports – for example past behaviours or tendencies – and ask whether this information still stands, or whether changes have taken place since those comments were written.

“Having a foster carer in the room who currently lives with the children is a huge benefit, as they can corroborate or update information that’s no longer relevant, and offer day-to-day insights on the child’s behaviours, likes and dislikes. Similarly, having a psychologist there to offer professional insights is hugely important.

“Everyone in the room has the best interest of the child in mind, and each person can offer a different slant. Rather than just reading a bland written report, you have a clear and evidenced understanding of what to expect, and what parenting strategies you might need to consider. This means you enter the process with open eyes, based on accurate and wide-ranging information.”

Following the Team for the Child meeting, Ben and Chris now have to be approved at a matching panel, after which introductions and transition work with the children will take place.

Ben added: “We just can’t wait now. We feel so ready for the next stage, we’re excited about everything from teatimes, to family activities, trips to the beach, and introducing the children to our wider family. Everyone’s looking forward to meeting them.

“If I had one message for a prospective adopter, it would be to cast aside any preconceptions about age; instead focus on finding the right match. You shouldn’t write off any child because of their age, it’s not their fault they’re growing older in the system. We have been fantastically supported through this project and are delighted it’s being rolled out as a new initiative.”

Adopting Together will offer other families like Ben and Chris a structured, comprehensive suite of support at every stage of the adoption journey, including:

-Child-centred recruitment strategies
-Collaborative ‘Team for the Child’ meetings at the outset bringing together involved in the child’s care, including psychologists, existing foster cares and social workers, to provide first-hand insights
-A trained buddy who is also an adoptive parent and understands the joys and challenges of parenting children with specific needs
-Specifically designed transition sessions, including Theraplay, to ensure smooth transitions and introductions to an adoptive family
-Structured pre and post-placement consultation support, where issues and therapeutic interventions can be discussed

We follow three families who have adopted through St. David’s Children Society as they tell their stories from the time they first considered adoption to the ongoing support they receive from our agency.

The videos are available on our website under the ‘Adoption Family Sories’ section, or available on our Facebook, Vimeo and YouTube pages.

 

https://www.facebook.com/StDavidsChildrenSociety

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmz437De98tWZJzdUwjwwPg

https://vimeo.com/adoptionwales

When you make the initial call to enquire about adoption you have no idea of what awaits you. From our initial phone call, to our son being placed with us took over three years. People come to adoption for many reasons and you expect many things along the way to be difficult, but for us the hardest part was the waiting.

At the time of enquiry our birth daughter had just turned four years old and she was a part of our journey from the beginning. She met with Jodi our social worker and we had many discussions on what adoption meant and how it might affect her in an age appropriate way. It was difficult to explain the wait to her at that young age, when to her she wanted a brother tomorrow!

It is easy to become a little bit obsessed with ringing and emailing your social worker to ask for news, checking Linkmaker and the Children Who Wait newspaper and letting it crowd into everyday life. We had to find a balance between getting on with life with our daughter as well as making sure we kept up our reading and training so that when a match did come along we felt ready. In the meantime our daughter was getting older and our discussions became a lot deeper, so in some sense it was beneficial for her that she was actually 7 years old when our son came home as she had a much fuller understanding of the situation.

We did have a couple of matches in that time, but they fell through because it was felt that our family wasn’t right for that particular child. It’s immensely difficult to go through that at the time as you invest a lot of emotions in imagining that child with you, this part was also hard for our daughter as the child’s social worker wants to make sure you have prepared your birth child and so they are also involved in these linking meetings. Though your instinct is to shield your birth child from disappointment, it is just not possible as they need to go through this journey with you too. I believe as a family unit we are all a lot closer and stronger together as a result.

I remember a time when we were all in tears when a match fell through, as for a while it had seemed it was all going to work out; once we were approved our social worker felt almost like a friend to us as they were so supportive to us throughout.  We are glad that we trusted in the process and in the experience of our social worker to know what was right for us as when our son was linked to us, it was most definitely the perfect match.

Our son has been with us now for 9 months and it has been the best and worst of times adjusting to life as a family of four. Our daughter has been incredible and although it has been a difficult adjustment for her, the preparation and talking we did with her has paid off. They now have a pretty normal love/hate sibling relationship!

There are times in the adoption process where it feels like it has taken over your life as you are advised to not book any long holidays whilst waiting for a match and things like moving house, job or family bereavements (all of which happened to us) can also place delays on things. My advice to anyone waiting for a match would be to first and foremost, look after yourself. Concentrate your mind on your health and also on preparation. Read as much as you can, join social media support groups and if you can, book last minute weekend breaks away.

It is a very hard journey but it is worth every step. Our son has completed our family in the most beautiful way imaginable.

Yesterday, our family waved goodbye to our children’s social worker, Claire, for the last time. She had been with them since the beginning of their adoption journey. The term ‘journey’ is so very X-factor, but for once, it really does seem appropriate. Our children have been on a journey of epic proportions in their short lives and Claire has been with them for most of it. She was there when they were taken from their birth family and during their time with a foster family; when they first met us – their two Dads – a year later, and during our first year as a family together.

Two weeks ago the Adoption Orders were granted. Our children are now legally ours. No turning back.

As our children waved goodbye before running off to play, largely unaware of the significance of what was happening, my body was overwhelmed by racking sobs. Moments before, I’d watched as Claire quietly looked at them, taking them in for one last time. They were sitting next to each other on the floor laughing as they played together. It was, on the surface, entirely unremarkable; and yet, the fact that they were sitting together at all – concentrating, laughing happily – was remarkable. Through love, boundaries, playfulness and empathy, they have come such a long way within the space of two years.

It was Claire’s cue to leave. Her job was done. We now continue the journey together as a family, for the rest of our lives.

Adopting isn’t always easy. On the morning we went to pick the children up from their foster carers, I thought we’d made “the worst mistake of our lives”, “the ‘match’ was all wrong”, “we really couldn’t do this” – or words to that effect, peppered with others that are unprintable. I wanted to turn back. The first three months after they moved in were the most challenging of our lives. Everybody said that adopting siblings would be really tough, and we nodded and smiled and said, yes, yes, we understand; and then they arrived and we nodded and cried and said, no, no, WE REALLY DIDN’T UNDERSTAND. Another father told me during that time that though he always loves his children, there are times when he doesn’t like them, and that’s OK. I quietly thought, “oh dear, I don’t like them but I really don’t love them either. What do I do with that?”

But the love grew.

I still have those days when I swear. A lot (in private). When you adopt, there will be days when your child will push you to your limit and you feel like the worst parent on planet earth. There will be days when you want to scream, and days when your children scream whilst wondering why you’re standing in the corner doing deep-breathing exercises in order not to scream back. As I said, it isn’t always easy; but parenting itself isn’t easy, and now we’ve made it through the first year we are encouraged that we must be doing something right because they are thriving. And the love? The love grows and grows….

Which is why there are those other moments, like the one I had yesterday when I sobbed, not because of the terror or the exasperation of it all, but simply because of the overwhelming love and pride I felt about how far our children had come, how we are part of that, and how we will continue to be part of that for the rest of our lives together.

No turning back; nor do I want to.

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