Melanie and Pete had hoped to have their own children but after IVF was unsuccessful, decided to go along to a local adoption information event.
We had been together for 10 years before we went along to the local authority adoption information evening. I was 30 and Pete was 35 at the time. Pete was a bit doubtful at first, but he met an old school friend when we were there and this seemed to help him to warm to the idea. Also we have friends who have adopted, and my cousins are adopted, so I think we started out with a reasonable awareness of adoption, its challenges and rewards.
From there we decided to go ahead. Our preparation course began in October of that year, with our assessment the following February and we were then approved by panel in the August. So far so good!
Sam came to us at the age of two following a difficult period of placements with birth, adopted and foster families.
Thankfully we had a good relationship with Sam’s foster carers - he had been placed with them twice - so they knew him well, and it meant that we worked through Sam’s introduction period together, to ease the process. We expected Sam to bring some issues with him due to the disruption he had experienced in his life already, and so we were prepared: or so we thought! Sam bonded well with me, but unfortunately not with Pete, and this was something we both found difficult.
Things were really tough for a while, and for a short period Pete and I separated. But we were supported and offered some attachment focus therapy, which helped us to work through things. Now our relationship is stronger than ever.
When Sam was five years old, and had been with us for three years, we approached the local adoption service for a second child. We really wanted to complete our family with a daughter, so we specified this second child should be a girl.
And along came Katie, who at 14 months had been removed from her birth mother when she was only a few weeks old. Katie went through quite a prolonged grieving process as she had become very attached to her foster family. Things didn’t really improve until she was three but the great news is Katie did bond really well with Pete, so no issues on that score this time around.
Katie is now eight and Sam is 12. They are just so different - Sam is on the autistic spectrum, and Katie has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Sam is quite needy and Katie is the opposite! It’s been a long haul, with lots of challenges but huge rewards.
I would say to prospective adopters: be prepared for longer-term life changes, over years and not just months. Be flexible in your approach - your initial ideas about what might or might not work may well need rethinking - ours certainly did. Most importantly, make sure you have a support network of friends and family who you can rely on; this will be invaluable when times are tough, and I speak from experience!
But we really would go back and do it all again. Pete and I have our family, our relationship is back on track and the unconditional love we have had from the children is just immeasurable. All in all we wouldn’t change a thing!