One dad’s honest insight into the highs and lows of adoption
So, now we’d been approved the matching process began and a couple of weeks later we received a profile of a 10-month-old little girl. There wasn’t much to go on, but there was just something about her and both my wife and I knew we had to get more information. A few days later we received her CPR (Child Permanence Report). This was 20 pages long and covered everything – her family history, reasons for being up for adoption and medical history.
This was when things really started to move at a speed and before we knew it, we had a home visit planned. It was a really informal meeting, but all seemed good, and they loved our house.
We also got the opportunity to see some videos of the little girl we’d been matched with and our hearts simply melted. A couple of days later we heard the news we’d been waiting for – her social worker would be happy for us to take the match to panel. Things moved in earnest from that point. Our panel date was set for the end of November, we had a date in the diary to meet her foster carer and, most important of all, we had a date to meet our future daughter for the first time in a bump-into meeting.
When the day came we were nervous and apprehensive, with a fear of immediate rejection or lack of feeling on our part. “What if she just cries?” and “What happens if we don’t feel a bond?” my wife said. We took with us a Jelly Cat Rabbit that our social worker had suggested we sleep with for a few days before the meeting to give to her. This was great advice and something I would advocate as our daughter still sleeps with it to this day.
We arrived at our destination, parked up, took a huge deep breath, and walked up to where we were meeting the little girl and her foster carer. We rounded the corner and there she was – this tiny little girl with huge blue eyes looking at us. It’s hard to describe that initial feeling, but I can only say it was love at first sight.
We spent the next hour inseparable as we played with her and any fears we had of rejection or lack of feeling went straight out of the window. When our time was up, we headed to the car, sat there, looked at each other and burst into tears (again). Everything we had been through for the last 20+ months was all worth it, all the frustrations and anxieties faded away. We had just met our daughter.
"We also got the opportunity to see some videos of the little girl we’d been matched with and our hearts simply melted."
After that, we had more ‘bump-into days’ and were able to spend more time with our daughter. While this was brilliant and really helped, it got harder and harder to say goodbye, but her foster carer was amazing and sent us regular pictures and updates. We then got our date for Matching Panel. Now it was real, this was the big one.
I’ve mentioned being nervous before at different stages, but this was a different kind of nerves, there was so much hinging on this. We sat in the holding area, sweaty palmed and then in we went. The panel made us feel at ease which made us relax slightly and I think I even cracked a joke or two.
After the final question we made our way back to the holding area and within five minutes we were joined by the chairwoman who confirmed we were able to continue with the process to adopt our daughter. Now the word elated doesn’t come close, but we didn’t cry this time, we just smiled and hugged each other.
Not long after the panel we were given our schedule for ‘Introductions’, which is where you spend two weeks with your child, starting at the foster carers’ house and then building up to your child coming home.
It’s a full-on, intense period, and at times felt a little uncomfortable being in someone else’s house, who you don’t really know. The one key point I would say is if you can stay over near the foster carer’s, especially when you need to be on an early start, then do it. The whole process is quite tiring, and it’s important to be able to recharge.
"While this was brilliant and really helped, it got harder and harder to say goodbye."
On day eight we had a catch up with all parties to review how things were going. We were very lucky, our relationship with our daughter was going well. There were no attachment issues just lots of cuddles, giggles and play time, so it was agreed that on day 14 she would be coming home!
Day 11 was different, as that was the day our daughter would be coming to see her new home for the first time. She arrived mid-morning with her foster carer and took no time at all getting accustomed to her new surroundings. The first time she went in her new bedroom was truly special – the room had been ready for a few months so to now see her in it made it all very real.
On day 14, we arrived at the foster carer’s a little later than normal to give them all the opportunity to say goodbye. Over the last year our daughter had become a big part of their family, so it was quite an emotional day for them as well. We’d already taken quite a few of her toys home, so we filled the car with the remaining items and said goodbye.
It was a teary goodbye for us all, their family had welcomed us in from the start and they had done an amazing job giving our daughter a brilliant early start in life. We now had the huge responsibility, and privilege of building on that. We decided we could always keep in touch with the foster carers, and we do – we send pictures across so they can see the fantastic little girl, and mini diva, that she is turning in to.
We arrived back home and just like that we were three, plus a dog. The strangest thing was having to keep ourselves to ourselves for the next two weeks, which meant not seeing grandparents or friends, as we were told in training this could be overwhelming. When we could, we had separate ‘bump-into meetings’ with my mum and my wife’s parents, which were incredibly emotional. To see them with their new granddaughter was very special indeed, and any concerns we may have had initially over how they would bond were dispelled.
"The first time she went in her new bedroom was truly special – the room had been ready for a few months so to now see her in it made it all very real."
The last two years from start to finish were the most emotional, tiring, frustrating, irritating, and difficult but ultimately joy filled. We managed to get through it because of the strength of our relationship and the support of our family and our closest friends. I managed to get through it and had the resilience because of the support of my wonderful wife and a bloody mindedness to prove those doubters wrong.
We are now a family, a family that we had always wanted. Will it be easy? No. Will there be lots of obstacles ahead? Yes. But will we overcome them? Yes.
This certainly isn’t the end of the process though as we knew in six months or so we would need to apply for the formal adoption order.
But that story is for another day.