This isn’t strictly a new blog post (slapped wrist) but rather an article that I put together recently for LGBT family network New Family Social, to enlighten potential new adopters leading up to LGBT Adoption and Fostering week in March.
Tom and I became parents to our handsome boys, Richard, now 6 and Lyall, 7 in March 2014. We adopted our boys through a charity called Adoption Focus. Adoption Focus were very well organised and professional, acting as our guide and spokesperson throughout the process. Our adoption journey wasn’t plain sailing, as you’ll find out, but it was worth the wait and we’ll celebrate our second family anniversary this March.
The whole adoption process, from start to finish (that is, from initial enquiry to placement) took around two years. In all honesty our experience was fairly turbulent; we were delayed by various legal and administrative hurdles. The majority of delays occurred after we’d been matched with the boys but before they were able to meet us, which was hugely difficult because although we’d committed to them, we didn’t know if or when Richard and Lyall would be approved for adoption.
At the time it felt like an extraordinarily long haul, but in hindsight it seems like no time at all and the wait was worth-while. In fact the slow pace allowed plenty of time to take advantage of all the little, insignificant luxuries that we were about to sacrifice (cheap holidays, romantic hotel stays, enjoying a glass of wine in the bath without interruption for example).
I won’t bore you with the intimate details of our adoption assessment. However, one grey area of the adoption process which I’d like to enlighten you about, an activity that Tom and I certainly used to worry about is Family Finding. Family Finding happens after you’ve been assessed and approved as potential adoptive parents and looking back we now describe Family Finding as ‘Choosing our children’.
It’s a surreal time in one’s life, wherein Sunday broadsheets, social media and magazines are temporarily replaced by hundreds of profiles of adorable little children in various publications that arrive in the post and online. One such resource is here on the New Family Social website; a helpful database containing heartfelt stories and photographs of children who are waiting for adoptive parents.
It’s emotional. The difficulty is that while you feel a connection with all of the featured children, you do have to be ruthless. Putting our feelings to one side for a moment or two, we decided what characteristics our children were ideally going to have – what gender, skin colour, their maximum age, mental development, hair colour and so on. We decided that we wanted siblings, and ideally boys aged under school-age as we had significant first-hand experience as uncles to our little nephews. Our social worker frequently tested our commitment to our preferences by tempting us with various profiles but we stuck by our guns, so to speak and kept looking for about three months.
Eventually though, if you do stick like glue to your preferences, one profile will land on your coffee table and will resonate. As did Lyall and Richard’s; their profile arrived, attached to an email one morning at work. I put down my notepad and pen, opened the email, glanced at the picture of the two handsome blonde little chaps and, hand to my chest and a tear in my eye, I read their emotional story. The profile was entitled “Richard and Lyall, playful loving brothers”. I immediately Whatsapped Tom to say, “Tom! Look at these beauties – they’re our boys!”. The rest, as they say is history.
If you’re thinking about adopting or fostering, Tom and I recommend that you use an adoption agency. They’re free, well organised and friendly. To get in touch with your local adoption agency – start here http://www.baaf.org.uk/agencies. Agencies are inspected and reviewed by Ofsted so you will be able to check up on their score before you make your decision.