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.