When I was about five I told my Mum that I was going to adopt a little girl with special needs. I’m not sure where I got that idea from but there it was.
I grew up and life happened. I fell in love with my friend, we married and started thinking about children. We knew we wanted children but we didn’t feel any pull to have biological ones.
I became a Social Worker and I learnt about the overwhelming number of children in care. I saw children waiting for their forever families, labelled “hard to place” because they had behavioural or health needs, were part of a sibling group or were too old. This only strengthened our resolve to adopt.
The process is tough. It took just under a year to be assessed and approved as adopters for one or two children under four. In the UK you have to wait for the approval panel’s decision to be ratified by the agency decision maker (ADM). Our social worker called us and told us the ADM approved us and then in the same call she told us about twins looking for an adoptive family.
We saw their pictures and read some documents about them. They had suffered significant neglect with their birth family leading to a whole host of difficulties. If you would have asked us two years ago if they were the right match for us we would have said no. But staring at their little faces it just felt right.
We met the foster carer, the social worker, the medical advisor and we had to ask to hear the positives. I think because everyone wanted to be sure we knew what we were getting into. We saw videos of them, more pictures and we started to imagine them as part of our family. We decorated the second bedroom and prepared for matching panel. The match was unanimously approved!
Just a week later we met them. These beautiful children who didn’t speak just nine months before called us Mummy and Daddy. They trusted us despite everything they had experienced. Two weeks later and they came home for good.
In the beginning it was tough. ‘Tantrums’ lasted for what felt like hours and we grew tired of hearing “all toddlers do that” from well meaning friends, family and professionals. For the record, these ‘tantrums’ were far from typical, they self harmed and they couldn’t care less if we noticed or not. They were distressed, confused and scared. All the time.
I don’t really remember how we got through it. But I know we loved them, hard. We hugged, we cried and laughed with them. Slowly, so very slowly, things improved.
Now we can’t remember life before they came along. They are beautiful, brave, funny and adorable. They are also very hard work, but they are our children and we wouldn’t change them for the world.
It turns out that five year old me was mostly right, now I have my little girl and her brother and I couldn’t be prouder of them.