Liam and Nick have been in a relationship for seven years. In the early days they didn’t really discuss having children, but as their family and friends began to start families they became the go-to babysitters, and an idea became a reality.
‘When my sister started a family, we loved looking after my young nephews and this made us think about having a family of our own,’ says Nick. ‘I guess this sowed the seeds which later came to fruition! We have family living locally and we seemed to be in the right place with our relationship - so we decided to go ahead and look at the options available to us.’
‘We chose adoption as the path we wanted to follow and went along to an information evening, registered our interest in adoption, and then had a home visit.’
‘We both found the assessment process thorough and thought provoking,’ says Liam. 'We understood the social workers wanted to ensure we both appreciated the kind of problems or issues children could arrive with, and that we in turn could offer secure attachment to them. There were health and safety assessments, pet questionnaires, medical assessments and lots more!’
‘Once the assessment process was completed and the panel approved us as adopters, we began a long wait, which I found difficult,’ says Nick. ‘It was almost a year from approval to being matched - that was tough because we were one of the last families from our preparation group to be matched with a child. Our strong advice to others in a similar position is that it’s important to share your emotions with your partner and keep the communication going during a period like this, as it can put a strain on your relationship.’
‘Be prepared to wait and use that time to read and research. We found adoption websites useful, particularly those with forums,’ adds Liam.
'After seeing Ben’s profile on the Linkmaker website, and registering our interest, things finally began to fall in to place,’ says Liam. ‘It all then happened quite quickly. After we were shown photos, and given some more background on Ben, we were put in touch with his foster carers, and introductions were planned over a two-week period. Due to the complexity of Ben’s situation - he had been with his foster carers for six months and had formed a strong attachment to them - the situation had to be managed carefully.’
‘The legal proceedings were also prolonged because Ben’s birth father appealed several times during both care proceedings and the adoption process,’ adds Nick. ‘That made it a pretty difficult time, too.’
‘Ben became part of our family when he was 18 months old. I was able to take 12 months’ adoption leave and Liam a shorter period of paternity and annual leave of just over a month. We were so lucky to have a great network of family and friends around us,’ says Nick. ‘There was huge support from our social worker and this really helped us through some of the more anxious times - there were quite a few of those.
‘Ben has needed some medical support with speech and his development is a little delayed, but he is an active, happy little boy, and we have just enjoyed our first family holiday together.
‘Ben’s birth mother wanted to have letterbox contact with us but his birth father wanted to meet us in person,’ says Nick. ‘We both found this very emotional, and not without challenge, but we were glad we did, as it gave some closure to all concerned.’
‘Would we adopt again? The answer is yes, one hundred per cent,’ says Liam, ‘Ben has brought our relationship to a new level, and we just can’t imagine him not being part of our family.’
‘He is our family now,’ agrees Nick. ‘His grandparents absolutely adore him - not to mention his aunties, uncles, cousins and of course us - and it’s great that both sets of grandparents live close by!’
‘Our advice to other couples thinking of adoption is to be patient and persistent. Do your homework and research first, and make sure your relationship is in a good place before you adopt. And then go for it!’