As former Secondary School teachers, my partner and I have always loved being around children and inspiring them to be the best they can be. All children need is a loving, safe environment to thrive and become confident. Being in a same sex relationship meant adoption was the natural step in starting a family, plus, the thought of providing a home to a child in care was something that really motivated us. We now have our daughter and know that we have made the best decision ever. We want her to own her journey, know how special she is and be able to live life confidently being proud of her identity and background.
The adoption process has been great in that the social workers really provide you with a good understanding of what adoption involves, the different stages of the process, the paperwork they require in order to submit an application and the support you will need as a new parent.
Personally, I believe being able to see things from the child’s perspective and understanding the relationship and identity they bring with them is so important. The adoption process provides you with training to understand this and promotes and encourage you to be able to talk with your child about this in an age appropriate way.
All children come into care with some degree of neglect and trauma, therefore, the training aims to build your understanding of how and why children are in care as well as how to help a child develop self-assurance so that they can then go on to form strong attachments.
For us, the process did take a long time as we were waiting on court decisions and then we had the pandemic, but in order to go through the process, patience is one of the key attributes you must have. It does involve many meetings with professionals within the social care setting which is important as they want to make sure that the child is right for your family, but also that you are right for them.
Overall, I am very happy with the adoption process and feel it has been both helpful, and informative. I can also say that the post adoption support has been very good with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Adoption Service.
Our daughter has completed our family and we have seen her grow with us, learn, develop skills, and embrace the world and her personality. Whilst it has been challenging with adapting to parenting, taking time out and supporting each other, the fulfilment and rewarding feeling we get from seeing our daughter laugh and call us Dad and Daddy beats any other feeling.
As a child I always thought, I will be a dad one day and I will show my child all the wonderful things this world has to offer, the idea of going out to the park for a picnic as a family or going for a meal as a family was something I always wanted. Life has changed ever since our daughter came home but I think the responsibility of caring for a child pushes you to be the best you can be and do whatever is in your capacity to give them the best experiences.
I now know what people mean when they say ‘children grow up so fast’, even in the space of a few months I have seen how much she has changed, and she continues to surprise me every day with something new. I find that having a child enriches you in many ways, you learn to be more resourceful, patient, creative and many other things.
The adoption team have been great at preparing us, we have learnt so much about children in care, attachments, child development and more about ourselves as a couple. I would highly recommend all the training which is both informative and interactive.
I really do feel like adoption has also brought my family even closer as both sides of our families have developed strong attachments with our daughter. This means we can do lots of things as a family and feel supported. Having a good support network is so important for both yourself and the child. I feel grandparents offer so much to children and it is nice if they have someone like this involved in their life also.
Through the process we have also made friends with other people who have adopted and are people my daughter can relate to. There are always others around you that can listen and provide you with suggestions to overcome some of the challenges during those early stages of parenthood.
Further, we have learnt a lot about adopting a child from other perspectives which has been helpful and allowed us to understand the importance of being open and having contact with the birth family. We have created a life story book which has documented our child’s early life and all the people that are connected to her, which is something she can keep forever.
Lastly, I would say consistency is key, setting boundaries is good but if you are a first-time parent, like we are, you learn from trial and error and must be adaptable. I can certainly say in the first few weeks it was slightly overwhelming with all the changes and responsibilities, but you really do develop that relationship very quickly, once the trust is established everything becomes easier. Now looking back, it feels like our daughter has been with us forever and she is the best thing we have.
Don’t forget to talk to each other, your social worker, and your friends about all the positives and worries, this can really help through the early stages when everything is new and when you are just settling into parenthood. Other than that, I would adopt again, I think our daughter would make a great big sister.