Samantha is passionate about adoption, having been adopted herself. Aged 41 and single, living with her mum and dad, she adopted a baby through Early Permanence Placement.
I was adopted at nine months old and wanted to adopt from an early age. I had a great experience of being adopted as a mixed heritage child into a white British family, with three adopted siblings. Every one of us was unique and I never felt any different growing up.
I’ve always wanted to be a mum and in my late thirties realised I couldn’t have children of my own. My mum encouraged me to look into adoption many years ago, but as single, mixed heritage adopter I thought there might be a problem. When I finally went to an information event there was some initial hesitance, but my social worker visited me at home, learned about my background, and things went from there.
During the three-day training I met some great people. We all kept in touch, met up, had a laugh and just helped each other through the hard times – you end up with friends for life. I was approved to adopt within six months but then had a long wait for a suitable match with some possible matches falling through, which was tough. Thankfully I had the support of my parents, friends from the training course and a great social worker.
Early Permanence Placement (EPP) wasn’t something I had considered and when my social worker told me about a mixed heritage baby, Ava, who was two months premature I wasn’t sure. In the photo taken when Ava was first born she would have fitted into the palm of my hand and I was scared I wouldn’t be able to hold her. But my social worker encouraged me to visit Ava in hospital to see her for myself. And what a godsend that was. It was overwhelming, she was so gorgeous, so small but beautiful. It was lovely, just holding her and cuddling her with her big mop of hair. I said, ‘I’m taking her’ and signed on the dotted line!
Ava is also mixed heritage and I’ve taken a year’s adoption maternity leave from work to be with her. I’m bringing her up living with my mum and dad. Having my mum around is a godsend and my dad loves her to bits. We work well as a team.
Every day she’s learning something new, being cheeky and laughing. It’s lovely seeing her character developing – she’s a bit of a diva already! She’s seven months old now and has no health issues at all and already wants to be walking.
This is everything I’ve ever wanted. I never expected a newborn and to be there for every milestone is amazing – I don’t want to miss out on anything.
My social worker was brilliant too. Through all the ups and downs she let me moan and shout when I got frustrated. She was really helpful and tried her best and knew I wanted to offer a child a family with a lot of love, whether she was mixed heritage or not.
I feel that I was meant to have this little one after the long wait: I was lucky to get her. As soon as she was put in my arms those years of waiting were gone. Adoption is really worth doing; it’s given a child a home and given me a family.
If you want to adopt, expect ups and downs. You don’t get matched straight away after the training course and approval, although you might get lucky.
Make friends with the people you meet on the three-day course – they are your support network for good times and bad.
Find time for yourself during the adoption process so that you’re not constantly thinking about adoption. My social worker was fantastic and kept checking in every two-three weeks to see what’s going on.
Remember that with EPP your child could be returned to birth family so you need to prepare yourself for this and protect yourself, just in case.