We met our youngest on a swelteringly hot June afternoon a few years back, after months of protracted negotiations that the United Nations Peacekeepers would have been proud of! We discovered early on that adoption through the domestic system in the UK was going to challenge everything we felt, thought, believed about both ourselves and other people to the core.
The last few years have been a rollercoaster. Albeit one that we wouldn’t change for the world.
Part of my world
I had grown up in a world where friends (or their parents) being foster carers or adoptive parents was just part and parcel of family life. Throughout my childhood, I had friends who were being fostered within families in my world. There was a group home for teenagers in our neighbourhood. So it inevitably at some point became part of my future planning as a young adult. At 21 I had already had conversations with Barnardos about being a respite foster carer in their team for children with disabilities after finishing my studies to become an Occupational Therapist.
Then we met…
But during my time studying in London, I met James. Foster care and adoption was definitely not part of his frame of reference at that time. By the time I had graduated from my studies, James and I were planning a wedding and staying in London to work. Going home to Manchester and doing respite foster caring was on hold indefinitely.
We decided to start trying to have a baby about four years after we got married. I have occasionally wondered out loud to James about why we waited so long, and he reminds me that we didn’t really have friends in our lives who had small children. However we were blessed in having no difficulties in getting pregnant with our three older girls and all three came along in a four year period.
Even during those years of having babies and toddlers, the topic of adoption and fostering had come up in conversations, both between ourselves and with friends. It was very much a ‘maybe one day, but not right now’ feeling.
I gave up work in the summer of 2012, in order to be at home to home educate our girls (we’ll be writing more about this soon). We were still entertaining the possibility of having more children at that stage, but I had been reluctant to be pregnant while working again. I was pregnant again in the spring of 2013, but we had a really difficult missed miscarriage, only finding out that baby had died when we had our twelve week scan.
In the months of recovering and regrouping, we had long conversations about where to go from here. Once I was physically recovered, there was no technical reason that we couldn’t try again. But it didn’t feel like the right choice for us.
Adoption has never been our second choice. Adoption wasn’t always part of the plan. Adoption wasn’t about being able to choose the boy we hadn’t had naturally. Adoption wasn’t about being saviours and rescuing somebody’s abandoned child.
Adoption was always part of our ongoing conversation about our family.
When I was a child, I never had plans for how many children I wanted, or what I would call my future children, or any of those kinds of dreams or ambitions. When we were first married, we had no idea what our family would look like or become. We just knew that we would do it together.
In the autumn of 2013, we knew that our family had something to offer to a little person who needed a family.
Early in 2014, we found ourselves meeting in our living room with a social worker from Adoption Matters (a voluntary adoption agency covering much of the north of England and North Wales, based in Chester). I’ll be explaining our pre and post approval and matching process in more posts in the coming weeks. For now I’ll just say that it took us eighteen months from making the first contact with our agency to bringing our Rainbow Girl home.
It has been almost three years since we first met our beautiful youngest daughter and we genuinely cannot imagine life without her. She is a fighter. She is braver than anyone I know. She is beautiful. She is kind and passionate and feisty and loving. And we love her so very much.