Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The twists and turns in my adoption journey

(c) zbigphotography
Adoption Champion, Michelle, adopted her daughter four years ago. Her journey has been full of twists and turns, not to mention many challenges. But, says Michelle, she's a better person for it.

"I have a medical condition, which means it's very risky to have children of my own. Some with my condition have tried, and been successful. Others haven't, and have paid with their lives, or both the mother and their baby. For us it just wasn't worth the risk.

"I was diagnosed when I was 15 and knew at 22 that becoming a mother naturally was going to be so difficult. From then until I was 30 I went on a big journey to come to terms with it. In meeting my husband I had reached the acceptance stage, and together we decided to start our adoption journey.

"We went through the process very quickly, I think because we are a mixed race couple. From start to finish it was about 17 months*. Our social worker was lovely and very supportive. She asked us lots of thought provoking questions, and our faith was explored very deeply.

"We were always very open with her. Often when we opened up she would tell us it was all perfectly normal anyway, and we always felt better for having said it. We felt it was better to be honest rather put on a pretence.

"Our lives have totally changed since our daughter came to live with us. At first I was constantly exhausted! I can't believe people didn't tell me how tired I would be. My friends said they did, but I wasn't ready to hear it at that point. I guess they're probably right.

"I feel like I've changed as a person too. I'm more patient, understanding and accepting. I believe that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. That would certainly be true in our case.

"The biggest challenge for us was finding out that our daughter has global developmental delay. It wasn't picked up by anyone whilst she was in foster care, but we sensed something wasn't quite right. I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong, so I spoke to my health visitor. She suggested we go for further tests and it was confirmed that she was delayed in almost every area of her development. It's not a perfect situation, and my daughter's future diagnosis is unclear, but we're coping.

"In many ways it feels like we were meant to be together: with my own medical condition I understand how it feels to be having lots of appointments; I worked with special needs children; and both my husband and I have family backgrounds affected by divorce and the difficulties this creates. My husband doesn't know his birth father which may help our daughter in the future as they can have a conversation that maybe helpful to them both.

"Adoption is probably the hardest way to become a parent. It is amazingly rewarding, although this wasn't what we planned when we went through the matching part of the process I wouldn't change my life for the world. It changes you completely, but for the better. For anyone considering adoption it's important to remember that the process prepares you for some of the challenges you will face, but not all of them. Friends who are other adopters are key in helping you keep sane and not isolated! Don't be na├»ve – you'll need more than just love."

For more information about adoption visit the BAAF website.

*Adoption times vary. The average time between initial application and adoption order is approximately two years.

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