Charles and Sophie felt they didn’t want to take the risk of a child inheriting a debilitating disease that had affected a family member
We’d been married for about five years when we decided to explore the possibility of adopting a child. Our initial contact with our local adoption service quickly led to a home visit and then we were invited to attend a preparatory course. We enjoyed the process; there were five other couples on the course and we are still in touch and friendly with some of them. Of course there were some challenging parts; for me these were around the emotional side of things, such as children experiencing physical and sexual abuse and managing it. I’m not sure we had really appreciated the need for this kind of training at the beginning.
I found the assessment process very thorough, we certainly felt scrutinised, but completely understood why. There were home visits and garden checks, pet questionnaires and health and safety issues, but all went smoothly and we reached the panel approval stage quite quickly.
We then went along to a consortium day run by several adoption services, to make families aware of children in need of adoptive parents in the area.
I didn’t really feel comfortable at first with all the children’s images being, what I felt was, showcased. But we did see a photo of a little girl who caught our attention. There was some brief information about her circumstances - she was around 12 months old and had been removed from her parents at birth. She had siblings, three of whom were living with a grandmother. The little girl was of mixed heritage, and we were advised that mixed heritage parents were being sought, so we wouldn’t be considered. None of the other profiles brought to our attention felt right, so we decided to wait. Then the social worker phoned us and said they would in fact like to talk to us about this little girl, whose name we knew by now was Jasmine.
Introductions began and then came the day when Jasmine came to live with us. The first few months were pretty anxious as new parents but we had support from our social worker during this time. Jasmine had been with her foster carer for many months and she had formed quite a strong attachment, so it was important for us to deal with this sensitively.
As new parents we found we really benefited from sharing experiences and problems, whether with family, friends or other adopters, so if you are planning to adopt, it’s really helpful to make sure some, if not all, of these sources of advice and support will be there for you.
School life has brought some challenges with it; for a while Jasmine seemed to be drawn towards a group of youngsters who were less intent on academic success and more on disruption, so this was a difficult phase but by no means unique to adopted children. Sophie and I worked hard to provide her with interests and hobbies outside of school and she is now a keen horse-rider, which has been great for her. Riding and her love of horses has proved a real constant for her and provided stability in tough times. It’s helped massively during a recent family bereavement which Jasmine struggled with.
Adoption hasn’t been without its challenges, but we have absolutely no regrets.