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.