Thursday, 9 February 2012

Our journey to become same-sex adopters

In the run up to LGBT Adoption & Fostering Week (20-26th February 2012), we hear from a lesbian couple who share their journey to parenthood.

Being in a same-sex relationship meant Jo and I looked into all the options open to us to start a family. We both agreed that adoption was the right path for us because we knew there were children who needed a loving home and it would mean that we were both on an equal footing with our children.

We thought that it might be difficult for us to adopt as a gay couple and so did a lot of reading and research before applying to our local authority. We nervously posted the application form in the March we were visited by a social worker. In June of that year we went on a 3 day preparation course. This certainly was an eye opener and was at times very emotional but at the end of the course we were still sure we wanted to adopt.

The next few months were filled with social worker meetings, life stories and homework. We’d heard that the process could be intrusive but we had a brilliant social worker and I actually found the process to be enjoyable. It really made you think about what had happened in your life and how that would filter down to your parenting.

In readiness for our new family we decided to extend our house and the building started in November. Things were thrown into turmoil when my Dad suddenly passed away in the beginning of December, but little did we know on that very same date, decisions were already being made that would bring us to our little girl.

Adoption approval panel was in the following February and after being approved we awaited that all important phone call. A year to the day of our very first meeting, our social worker called about a 7 month old little girl called Willow, my heart was racing and I still well up now just thinking about that call. The next few weeks were a whirlwind as we scrambled to finish the house and get it ready for a baby!

The day of our first meeting was both so exciting and so terrifying I don’t think it can be put into words. Willow’s foster carer was amazing and within the first hour I’d given Willow her first bottle and she’d fallen asleep on my lap. We were hooked! Handover week was exhausting and as it drew to a close it grew harder and harder to take her back to the foster carer to sleep. Finally Willow moved in and we were a family.

It turned out to be a baptism of fire as Willow came down with chickenpox in her first week at home but this meant we bonded quicker than ever.

I cannot express how lucky and blessed we feel to become Willow’s forever family. There is no greater joy than a seeing a child advance and develop and she continues to melt our hearts daily.

We always knew we wanted more than one child so around 18 months later, we resubmitted our profile for approval. We went to panel in the December and were prepared by our social worker for a ‘long wait’ as we needed to be matched with a child who was at least 20 months younger than Willow.

It was a bit of surprise then when we received a phone call in the New Year about a little boy called Hugo. Once again we fell in love and met him a few days after his first birthday.
The introductions week was very different this time as we had to manage how Willow was introduced to her new brother. Understandably she was confused by going back and forth to the foster carers and seemed quite sad that she would no longer be the only one. All we could do is explain what was happening and keep showing her all the love she’d had before.

Now we were a family of four and I think it’s safe to say that that year was a huge emotional rollercoaster as we all adapted to the new set up. We found it really important to make time for both of us to spend one on one with both Willow and Hugo and we continue to do that now.
Willow and Hugo wouldn’t now be without each other and talking to other families seem to display all the characteristics of birth siblings – a healthy rivalry and ganging up on their mummies!
We had a great experience with our local authority’s social services and always felt we were treated with the upmost respect and fairness. We regularly take part in events that are run by social services and I have even DJ’d at the Christmas party!

Our circle of friends has also grown through adoption and we regularly get together with other adoptive families for days out.

I would heartily recommend adoption to anyone considering starting a family. It might be tough at times but you soon come to realise that what you get back in return far outweighs the negatives.

Our house is full for now, but who knows what might happen in the future...

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