Sue and Dean always knew they wanted more than one child but after seven years of failed fertility treatments they’d almost given up hope. Having grieved for the loss of their dream of having their own birth children, they looked to adoption as their last hope. Here they share their journey of building their forever family through adoption.
We had a complex fertility journey, spanning seven years and 8 failed IVF attempts - including egg donation - so by the time we arrived at our decision to adopt I had already grieved the loss of ever having our own genetic children.
We knew that we wanted two children from the outset. When we decided to adopt we were ideally hoping for an older boy and a younger girl, but we realised that by being so specific we would have to hold out for longer if we were to find that exact match. I’d grown up with an older brother myself and I had it firmly in my mind that I wanted to replicate that.
Approved as adopters
Once we had been approved as adopters we started to look at some of the profiles of children awaiting adoption, in the Be My Parent magazine (website) and we would try and work out whether we could see ourselves as a family.
We went along to one of the adoption fairs, where local authorities all have stands with their profiles of the children they are looking to place - all the children that need help.
But as we walked around I found it so overwhelming, all these faces of children that desperately needed a home. I was so devastated that we couldn’t possibly help them all. It was absolutely heartbreaking. The support worker from our agency ushered me out as she could see how upset I was and whispered to me: “This isn’t for you, let’s go. We’ll find another way.”
There were several adopters others from our prep group that did find their children at these fairs – for them it worked well, but for me, I couldn’t do it that way. Thankfully, we didn’t have to.
Our social worker sent through a handful of profiles for us to look through instead – some of the stories were horrific. We spent the weekend talking through what we both felt we could and couldn’t cope with in terms of the difficulties and circumstances the children may have experienced. We needed to be clear whether we could truly meet their needs.
My boy ignored me for six weeks
We continued to be sent profile after profile and several months later, just as we started to get despondent, we found them. Finally, after seven long years, I was going to be a mum.
But when we brought the children home it wasn’t quite as I’d envisaged it. My little boy completely ignored me for the first six weeks – he didn’t want me to be a significant carer in his life and totally rejected me. Who could blame him after the upheaval he’d already been through?
But it did hurt – I wanted him to understand everything I’d already been through to get here – how desperate I was to be his mum and much love I had to give him.
Nothing prepares you for the culture shock of having two children arrive in your life like this, despite all the training and support you receive along the way. I lost a stone in the first four weeks and my husband suffered panic attacks. Thankfully with the support around us we worked through it, Dean was offered counselling and things started to improve.
In the midst of this turmoil came our saviour, in the form of another adopter from the agency – who lived just two streets away. She was so helpful in the early days. It was just priceless having someone we could talk to who totally understood what we were talking about and knew what it was like to be suddenly in a situation where you’d wanted this for such a long time yet nothing was working, there was no manual to refer to. I’m so glad to have been able to offer the same support to other new adopters since.
Agency support saved our placement
The agency was also there to offer support with parenting training – to be honest, this really saved our placement. It helped us to understand our son’s behaviour and support him better, especially bearing in mind what he’d been through. It was a real game changer.
It took us a while to gauge what was ‘the norm’ in terms of our expectations of the children – was their behaviour usual sibling rivalry or was it a reflection of the trauma they’d encountered in their past? We’ve learnt to define the difference now, which really helps us to fight their corner for them when we need to and help others understand them better.
These days our children are just like every other child in their environment. I have the best relationship with my son now and of course my daughter too.
Our children are now 7 and 9. They know they’re adopted and we’ve told them a bit about their heritage. They love each other very much – we constantly remind them that they are the most important people in each other’s lives – they share the same blood and they should always look out for one another and love each other. Thankfully, they usually do.
Adopting more than one child has not been without its challenges but if you are thinking of adopting one child now and another one later, I would say go for siblings together. You’ll only go through the process once and the challenges you’ll have with one child you’ll have with two or three. Plus you cannot put a value on keeping siblings together.