Two years after adopting their son Ben, Liam and Nick welcomed half-sibling baby Jodie into their home to complete their family.
‘I had a call from our social worker about adopting Ben’s baby sister while we were in the park,’ says Liam. ‘It was tipping it down and we were sheltering under the slide. I rang Nick and rushed round to my mum and dads and it didn’t take us long for us to decide what we were going to do.
‘I didn’t realise, but when you adopt a second time you have to be approved again, so we had to do some more work with our social worker. We had to go to panel again. We met with an experienced second-time adopter and asked her loads of questions.’
‘There was a lot of work to do before we introduced Ben to Jodie. We showed Ben photos of Jodie from her original profile and photos the foster carers had taken and told Ben that she was his sister,’ says Nick.
‘The foster carers had pictures of us to show Jodie. Some were stuck on the wardrobe in her room, so she could see them from her cot. We also had a baby muslin with our aftershave on and we gave her some teddies and things to put in her cot that had our scent on them.’
‘We met Jodie the day after her first birthday. We came up the drive and she was waving at us from the window. It was a very special moment,’ says Nick.
‘We had a week of introductions with Jodie’s foster carers. It was about her getting to know us, and Ben, as he was an important part of that transition. The children saw each other for the first time on the third day and they started playing together straight away, that connection and bond was right there. As the week progressed we had days out, just the four of us as a family. Jodie gradually attached over to us and on the final day we picked her up and took her home,’ says Nick.
‘We had a very small car and she had loads of stuff!’ says Liam. ‘Nick was wedged in the front while the two kids were asleep in the back.
‘I thought it was going to be really tough having two but I feel a lot more relaxed,’ says Liam. Jodie slotted in really fine, it felt like she’d always been there. I’m an only child so I was really excited to be part of a brother and sister growing up together. Nick says he can see what Jodie is like with Ben, having had a sister, winding him up and stuff. As soon as Ben picks a toy up she wants it. It’s very funny to watch sometimes.
‘At first he didn’t pay her much attention but with them sharing a room it didn’t take long for them to be a couple of monkeys! Ben used to get in her cot and you could hear them giggling in the mornings.’
‘The plan was to adopt Ben, move house and then adopt again. It didn’t quite go to plan!’ says Nick. ‘But by adopting before moving we had a chance to keep Ben and Jodie together. We’ve moved to a bigger house now, so they have a bedroom each. They’re so relaxed. They don’t wake up in the night.
‘We recently went on holiday and Ben was always asking where’s Jodie going? We really noticed he was concerned about her,’ says Liam. ‘Jodie gets upset when Ben goes out and Ben asks where Jodie is when she’s not there. They’ve got that attachment for each other and for us.
‘One of the most important things to remember is there’s no right or wrong way to feel when you meet a child for the first time,’ says Liam. ‘I imagined I was going to think ‘I’m his dad and I’m going to love him instantly’. And I remember meeting Ben and thinking, ‘Oh I don’t feel like that’, like there was something wrong with me.
‘That moment came when Ben wasn’t very well and I was playing with him on the floor and it just hit me: he’s my son. I just started crying and Ben was just looking at me like, what’s up with you? So with Jodie I was prepared not to feel instant love and just let it grow.’
‘Ben is four next month and Jodie is 18 months,’ says Nick. ‘We’ve got the family we always wanted: our two children, a new house and good jobs. We’re now ready to see what the future has in store for us.’
Liam: Be prepared to wait, so use your time wisely, read up on adoption and the different types of children waiting. We got to the point where we were ready to say that’s it now. So we booked a holiday and then Jodie came along so we cancelled our holiday. It didn’t matter.
Nick: Make sure you’ve got a good support network in place and that’s in place before you go ahead, because during the adoption process and introductions you need that support from family and friends. There’s lots of post adoption support available through One Adoption. That’s been really good: summer picnics and events.
Liam: There’s a drop-in stay and play event and I love it and go as often as I can. Jodie gets to play with loads of toys and I can chat with the social worker. And the people that you meet on the preparation course: keep them close. We really bonded with another same sex couple on the course, and when we meet up the children go and play and it’s like therapy for us! We all talk and it’s nice to know you’re not the only one going through it. If Ben behaves a certain way I can’t know if it’s because he’s a ‘threenager’ of whether it’s because he’s had a difficult start. So when you talk to other people you realise their kids are behaving that way as well. It’s important to have somebody else who knows what you’re going through.