Anyone can be considered as a potential adopter for Adoption Central England (ACE) providing they are over 21 years. It doesn’t matter whether you are married or single, in or out of work, or whatever your race, religion or sexuality. But you will need plenty of patience, humour and energy. Most importantly, you need to be determined to give a child or children the sort of support that will really make a difference to their lives. One of our adopters, Nina*, describes her experience:
“My adoption journey began in January 2004 when I picked up the phone and asked the question, “Can single people adopt?” I attended an Information Evening in March and what was then a four day course in the summer. As my offer was for a child aged 4-7 years and there were a number of children waiting in this age group, I was lucky enough to be able to do my Home Study in the autumn. January 2005 found me sitting in front of the Adoption Panel and receiving the wonderful news that I was cleared to adopt.
At this point I was the envy of my fellow adopters as a child had already been identified and it looked like I was on the way to motherhood. A word of caution here, don’t let your heart rule your head. As I found out more about this child it became clear that this was not the right match with me for a number of reasons. I had to make a heart-wrenching decision to say no which was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
I heard about my daughter L in May 2005. She was 5 years old and the middle child of a sibling group of three. Her older brother had just been adopted and her sister was still waiting. It is hard to imagine a sibling group being split up, but each child needed to be the only child in a new adoptive family in order to have the best chance. After a lengthy four week introduction period, L moved in with me.
This was the start of the best years of my life. L had blond hair and blue eyes and the cutest smile you could imagine. Far from the many learning and social issues all the preparation had led me to believe were coming, L was bright and articulate, and very sociable with adults and other children. She made a fairly smooth transition into my family and life went on. L was a joy to be with, loving and generous, generally happy and fulfilled. Don’t get me wrong; life wasn’t all sunshine and flowers, and there were some very tough times dealing with L’s anger and anxiety. She would have major tantrums and throw things with alarming accuracy. But it’s important to remember that not everything happens because adopted children have a past. All children have tantrums, all parents will tell you their children do things that make their hair turn white. Adopted children are just children, but there will be issues specific to adoption and the more informed you can be, there better equipped you will be to manage what comes your way. I have survived the parenting of L, the hormones, the teen years, the angst of exams. She is now a gorgeous 18 year old, out in the world of work, and has sourced herself the therapy she needs to try to manage her ongoing anxiety issues.
I applied to adopt for a second time in 2011. It took a year to apply, complete the process and be cleared by the Adoption Panel. J was four years old when she moved in with me in August 2011. When you consider whether a child is the right match, you will receive as much information as possible about the child and their birth family history. I knew that J’s birth mother was very young and had learning needs. J was presenting as a happy but stubborn little angel with indicators of language, social and learning delays. As a teacher with many years of Special Needs experience, there was nothing there that I felt I couldn’t handle.
J swept into our lives. She was such a happy little soul, eager for every new experience she could grab. But boy oh boy could she throw a tantrum! If she said no she meant no and she could not see why you couldn’t understand that. I am very experienced with SEN but could not put my finger on exactly what J’s needs were. Her language delay made it appear she was not capable but she showed time and time again the depth of her imagination and understanding. When she was seven years old we applied for and were awarded one-to-one support at school. It was at this time she received a diagnosis of Developmental Coordination Disorder with Sensory Processing Disorder. I wasn’t looking for a label but it did give everyone an understanding of how J saw the world, and a much better understanding of how to help her at home and school. I am so proud of all she has achieved. She has just moved to a mainstream secondary school, and with ongoing one-to-one support she is thriving and happy.
Adoption is the best, most rewarding, toughest and exciting thing you could ever do. But remember, that sentence sums up being a parent not just adoption. My girls are the love of my life. Even at the darkest of times I have never once regretted making the choice to adopt. I have two beautiful girls who make my life so rich by being in it. If you feel that adoption is for you, make sure you are well informed, attend courses on potential issues, build up your support networks, talk to experienced parents, then take that first step and pick up the phone.”
If you are interested in adoption please visit the ACE website: aceadoption.com or call the ACE Hub on 0300 369 0556 for more information. ACE is particularly seeking adopters for sibling groups, babies to 10 year olds, children with a level of disability and those of minority ethnic backgrounds.