Friday 13th, lucky for some. A tale of Adoption.
Friday 13th is considered unlucky for some but last year our luck was finally in and we became a family of three.
But before I get to how that happened, I want to rewind back to May 2010. My husband and I got married (which, I might add was after 11 years of being together... as I was soon to learn, nothing in my life was going to happen quickly) and as with most couples we wanted to start trying for a family straight away, believing that within months we would be expecting! Unfortunately, this was not to be and before we knew it eighteen months had passed and we were soon on the IVF path. I was never really that keen on IVF but with a free cycle on offer we took the opportunity. But finally after two cycles and a frozen embryo it would seem that my body just didn’t want to create a baby. So, four years after our baby-making journey started we decided to call it quits. My body, our emotions and bank account could take no more.
We took time out to grieve for what could have been and considered life as just the two of us. Whilst discussing our future plans, I mentioned the idea of adoption. This was something that had always appealed to me, if I couldn’t have my own biological child then why not give a child born into a situation not of their making the chance to be part of a loving and safe family. And in return they would give us the chance to be the family we had always wanted.
Initially my husband was not keen on idea of adoption; his main concern was could he a love a child that wasn’t of his blood? However, he agreed to stay open-minded and before we knew it the next chapter in our life was underway.
In the summer of 2015 we attended a new adopters open evening with our local council and the lady presenting certainly didn’t sugar coat anything.
After this I expected us to be the ones walking away but it turned out that it only cemented my feelings (with a bit of fear thrown in) and as for my husband, surprisingly, he wanted to explore the process further. Our next step was to have a one-to-one meeting with a social worker to assess if they felt it was right for us and to give us a chance to ask further questions. At the end of the meeting we were told that ‘yes’ we were just the type of couple they were looking for. At last, our first positive outcome on the road to parenthood!
That evening we talked and reflected on everything and decided that we wanted to go ahead. We both said that at every stage of the process we must both be in it 100% or we would walk away. I asked my husband what had changed his mind and he said that he realised that we aren’t blood related and he loves me, so why couldn’t he love a child that wasn’t. It’s only biology after all! So off we went together, our family of two hoping again to become a three.
After completing application forms, a full medical and submitting references and DBS checks we were ready to begin stage 1 of the approval process. This involved completing quite a bit of homework and attending training sessions over several evenings with other potential adopters. Some of the information shared was extremely emotional and made you reflect on your own upbringing. We both felt very lucky and appreciative to have had such safe and happy childhoods. At the end of the November we had it confirmed that we had passed stage 1 - another tick in the box. It felt like we were finally getting somewhere.
So, after enjoying Christmas we were ready in the new year to start stage 2. We had eight meetings over three months with our social worker at our house discussing everything and anything you can think of - our life since we were born, beliefs, the type of parents we thought we would be, our family, our finances. This was all put into our PAR report to be read by the adoption approval panel. Then, before we knew it, we had arrived at the day of the panel meeting and this was it. This group of ten people would decide if we could be parents. They asked us a few simple questions and after a short wait the panel Chair came out to say we had a unanimous YES! Of course I immediately burst into tears - at last it felt like we were getting closer to what we had always wanted. There were plenty of bubbles drank that night! But little did we know that the actual hard part was just about to begin. We might be approved adopters but the wait for a match with a child was a whole different ball game…
Initially there was a flurry of children presented to us but none that met the criteria we had set for ourselves. We had to be realistic about the type of child we could support and meet the needs of. No matter what, we stuck by our guns on this in order to be fair to ourselves and any potential child joining our family. To this day we still think about the little ones we said no to and hope they have now found their forever family.
As the weeks and months passed it began to feel like maybe this would never happen. We had always said that we must live with no regrets and believe that we had done all we could to become a family. Eventually we joined a site called Linkmaker, which says it can link adopters and children. So, we got proactive and started showing an active interest in different children. But of course, we were not the only ones and competition is great. The high of being approved felt like a distant memory and I was beginning to feel it wasn’t meant to be. I wanted to set a deadline; if it hadn’t happened within twelve months we would walk away and focus on our life as a two. I couldn’t take any more disappointment and our life being on hold.
In October 2016 we were allocated a new social worker who would turn out to be our fairy godmother! We had shown interest in a little boy but had heard nothing back. So, she got straight on the phone to his social worker and convinced her to read our PAR. From this she wanted to come out to meet us and from there it just snowballed. It was a yes from both sides, she thought we would be a great match and we wanted to be his parents. Before we knew it, we were attending the adoption panel meeting. If I thought I was nervous about being approved then this was another level. This panel of people could actually change all our lives forever. I couldn’t hold back the tears; thank goodness they had Kleenex handy. All the emotion of the past six years came flooding out. After again answering a selection of questions from panel members, we were asked to wait outside while they made their final decision. After about two minutes the Chairwoman came out to tell us that they were all in 100% agreement on the match and that we would be a family. Writing this now brings back all the feelings of that moment, if this piece was written in ink, there would be tearstains!
This news was the best Christmas present to be given. Now the longest wait began before meeting our little boy.
Finally, the day came and I wanted to hold it together. No more tears. As soon as I walked into the lounge at his foster parents’ house and saw him in person for the first time, I knew he was our boy. I didn’t have time to cry because he was in my arms. It was as if he had been waiting for us as well. Over the next ten days we spent more and more time together with us visiting him and then him coming to our house. Until the final day, moving in day… the start of life as a family of three. Friday 13th was a lucky day for all of us.
On my wedding day my mother-in-law said to me that marriage required patience and perseverance. Little did I know on that day that we would need both in bucketloads. Thank goodness we found them and six ½ years later we had our happy ending.
I hope this helps anyone out there reading this who is considering adoption, going through the approval process or waiting for their little one. I have only scraped the surface of our experience, as it is a really tough journey and not one to be taken lightly. It will test you, but don’t give up and it will happen for you. There were times when I really didn’t believe it would for us, BUT it did!
As we approach the end of our first year as a family I can barely remember yesterday, let alone what happened before Friday January 13th 2017! But it has been the best 12 months of my life and guess what, I have still needed plenty of patience and perseverance!