Our adoption story

Who knew it would take a pair of ‘twinados’ to complete our family? We didn’t, until they came crashing into our lives 2 ½ years ago, and what a fun and at times tough 2 ½ years it has been.

Our journey was a long one, and for two impatient ‘wannabe’ mummies it was hard to stay positive at times, but it was definitely worth the wait. Our journey started two years before our girls moved in. We were nervous and apprehensive but our social worker was there from day one to reassure and support us. It’s a weird situation having a random person in your house asking you questions about your world (some of it pretty invasive), worrying about the ‘right’ answers to give, and if you are going to say the wrong thing. But it quickly became apparent that what they needed to know was all about making sure we were honest, that our social worker knew how best to support us as potential parents and that our future children would get the best deal in us as parents, as that’s what they deserved. Within a year of meeting our social worker, we were at adoption panel. There were lots of probing questions and awkward answers, but ultimately happy tears that day. The panel were knowledgable, but lovely and had nothing but hope and words of support for us as new potential parents when they gave us an emphatic yes, fears of them being ‘judgey’ and scary were quashed very quickly.

Now the search was on….We knew we wanted to adopt a sibling pair, both under 5, with at least 1 girl. However, at the time unfortunately we were unable to be matched with a local sibling pair due to risks to the children living locally the birth families and unluckily for us there were lots of pairs of boys at that time, which didn’t fit our choices. No one challenged us to change our minds, or pressured us to move more quickly than we were comfortable with. After a while of no luck finding a match, we were supported to go through a national database to see if our match was out there. Within 3 months and a couple of unsuccessful enquiries, we had an alert to a profile describing a ‘hard to place’ pair of twin girls up north. There was no picture, scant information, but something drew us to their profile and we put in a request to get some more information. Within 2 hours their matching social worker had looked at our profile and sent us further info on the girls including a picture. I remember that feeling when we saw the first picture. The smile on my face when I saw them thought ‘they are mini me’s’ – one was blonde haired and bright eyed like me and one was dark haired and blue eyed like my wife. We would never have placed our decisions on appearance, but this just felt a bit fated somehow.

Our next step was to forward the profile to our social worker to let her cast her social worker eyes over it so we could make sure we weren’t just seeing this through ‘new mummy’ glasses. She agreed with us that it seemed like a good match and that we should keep talking to the other social worker and gave us some probing questions to ask. Our social worker felt an important part of her job was to keep us grounded, challenge us to think things through and take off our rose tinted specs at times – we will always be grateful for that. We made further contact with the matching social worker and we sought approval from the girls social worker to pursue the match. Everyone was in agreement and we had the green light to start prepping for matching panel and introductions.

Our daughters had been in foster care since they were 11 months and were approaching their second birthday, so everyone was keen to start the ball rolling. It was agreed that we could be allowed play dates before we were approved for the girls, but just as visitors to the house, not as prospective mums. So….9 months after adoption panel, we met their amazing foster mum and then the next day we were meeting our daughters and the rest of their awesome foster family for the first time. The build up to this day for us was full of questions and what ifs for us, but we shouldn’t have worried – the foster family had done such a wonderful job with the girls they were ready to play with new grown ups and in time trust us. We travelled the 2+ hour drive every weekend from that day for 7 weeks just to spend time with them, learn what their routine was, witness their triumphs and tantrums and become part of their lives….at their pace. The girls foster family were pretty unbelievable humans, we were all so blessed to meet them, I honestly don’t think the girls would have been ready for us without their outwardly laid back, but inwardly meticulously planned and executed care for the girls in the year they were with them. We made a talking photo-album for each of the girls that had their photo on the front and that was full of pictures of their new family, their bedroom, our pets, the teddies their nanny had knitted that would be on each bed and had their voices recorded onto each page. The foster family used it with them and kept it in full view all the time.

We were approved for the adoption match with the girls and the week before we brought them home for good we moved up north for a week, so that we could have intensive handover week, where we went from popping in for a few hours to being there before they woke until after bedtime and it was equally the most tiring and incredible thing we have ever done. On day 3 we took them out for a few hours and in that time my parents went to the house, collected some of their things and then set them up in their room and hung their clothes in the wardrobe so that it felt like ‘their’ home and room when they got there. If you can do that with friend or family support, do it. We also gave the foster family bedding to use during this week that we then took home with the girls and put onto their bed, so it smelled familiar. Its really tempting to buy new everything and that’s ok, but we wanted to take care to transition the girls gently, not sever them from another home and family.

After 5 days we were ready and we were allowed to take the girls home early. We set off down the motorway, closely followed the following day by the foster family, including their 8 year old daughter who had been ‘big sis’ for a year. We were so glad we did it this way as this felt like it reassured the girls that adults don’t just always disappear, that the foster family were somehow giving permission to the change and also for the foster parents and their daughter, they could be reassured the girls would be ok too – they deserve that consideration.

The first month was tough as we were cut off from everyone in our support network in order to bond and build dependency. Its tempting to fast track this process – don’t. Its quality time you will never get back once grandparents, aunts and uncles are in the picture. But do use face-time for some gentle introductions here and there. We had a bedtime routine that we didn’t deviate from, that worked and they slept through well. We always stuck to pjs, milk, teeth, cartoon, upstairs, story, lullaby and bed - with both of us every time for the first month. We still use this and the girls tell us off if we forget any part of it, the only change now is we take turns as its not always possible with work schedules to do it every night, but while you can, do.

Everyone wanted to be kept up to date, so we had already made the decision to be public about our adoption as we will never hide it from the girls. This meant that we did a facebook update every evening, from the perspective of the girls, about how their day had gone. We never used their names, we called them the eldest and the youngest – there’s 2 minutes between them at birth. It kept everyone informed, and meant that we didn’t have to field lots of texts and calls every evening as we were exhausted and once the girls were in bed the to do list was there waiting to prep for the next day. This isn’t for everyone, but it is what we felt comfortable with; due to our jobs we were pretty selective with facebook friends and our pages were locked down anyway.

The next steps were introductions to grandparents, then aunts and uncles and then close friends, overall it took another month for our most close and important people to meet our girls and again it was right to go slow and let them process it all. We primed everyone they met about what to do, that we wouldn’t make the girls hug or kiss anyone until they were ready and that we didn’t want them to be showered with gifts, it was about connections and relationships.

You will have lots of well meaning people who try to give advice, tell you that your kids won’t remember their early days, have lots of people tell you how ‘lucky’ your children are that they have you and act like you are a saint for adopting your children. Its all meant in the best way, but the reality is that adoption fulfilled a need in us and that’s ok, it also brought our daughters the love and stability for life that they deserved. Their story still ‘leaks’ out at times in how they might behave, what they say or how they react, but we do our best to stay calm, be compassionate and always remind them that we will keep them safe and love them forever no matter what has happened on their day or ours.

Adoption for us has changed our 4 lives and the lives of those closest to us for the better. It has at times been exhausting and challenging and it makes you question yourself every day. Despite that it is the single most important and brilliant thing that we have ever done. Our days, however tiring are full of wonder, laughter and love and we only hope our girls feel the same.