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Real Parents | Real Stories – An Adoption Journey

Adopting my daughter is hands down the best thing I have ever done. Apart from that time I hopped around the Greek Islands. Kidding! Who even was that person?! Another life ago! My daughter is most definitely my proudest achievement. 

We grew our family via adoption, something I am really proud of and keen to raise awareness about. Adoption is just one of the many ways you can become a parent and no way is more valid or more real than any other but every way is just as special. 

Can I get pregnant naturally? I don’t know, I’ve never tried. I’d had the idea of adopting a child sitting somewhere at the back of my mind since I was a young adult. When I knew I was going to be with my boyfriend forever, we spoke about all our options at length but when it came to it, the risk of passing on some particularly dodgy genetic chromosomes of mine, along with the knowledge that my body was very unlikely to carry a baby full term without my kidneys failing it just felt like the absolute best choice for us. 

That decision was confirmed further when we went to an information evening with our local authority, which made us feel so sure that we wanted to grow our family via adoption. You can use an adoption agency or a local authority, for us it worked out that our local authority was who we felt the most comfortable with so we put forward our application with them.

Excited and nervous, we had our initial checks and our adoption training was scheduled. Then Covid happened. We had some delays but within a couple of months, everything had been moved online and we completed three days of intense training. At this point, we were asked to go away and think about everything we had learnt and see if we still felt confident that we wanted to move forward, 

I’m a serious over-thinker. I like to go with the flow as long as I know exactly where the flow is going. So the lack of control throughout this process was incredibly hard! There is SO much waiting around, waiting for checks, waiting on other people to complete paperwork, make calls, ask questions, get answers. We were assigned a social worker who we virtually met with once a week for three months. Each session lasted for three to four hours and we covered a LOT! 

We knew we were really lucky that our social worker was amazing, easy to talk to and get on with, and she was also great at her job and got things done. Without her, we would have had a completely different experience I’m sure.

The sessions could be draining. I love to talk but even I was exhausted after nonstop talking for hours. I also found myself constantly thinking over what I’d said, wondering if it had been the right thing to say or if I had said something that was going to make our social worker turn around and say sorry, you failed, you can’t adopt.

It was mentally exhausting carrying around that amount of intense overthinking and worry all the time, definitely one of the hardest parts of the process for me. 

We started our weekly sessions in May. Skip forward to September and we were at our approval panel. A unanimous yes! We were thrilled, relieved, overwhelmed and so so happy we had been approved to become adoptive parents.

The next stage is one I know a lot of adopters find really difficult. When you’re approved, you wait for a potential match. In that time, you no longer have your weekly sessions, it can feel like you have no contact for a long time and that maybe they have forgotten about you, or that you’re never going to be matched with a child.

Again, we were incredibly lucky that our wait was short. We were actually sitting in our kitchen looking through three potential matches the following week. It was overwhelming. I felt like all the information about each child was going over my head, I couldn’t take it in.

We didn’t have to say yes to any of these profiles if they weren’t right. We could wait and there was nothing wrong with that at all. We decided to keep the profiles and read them again later that evening, to try and really take in the information.

After each reading the profiles, my partner and I sat down to share our thoughts. We had both felt the same pull with one of the potential matches, so we slept on it then called our social worker the next day to tell her we wanted to find out more about this little girl. 

Our process continued to go smoothly. I know this is not always the case from speaking to lots of other adopters. After meetings, paperwork, waiting, waiting and more waiting, we finally had our matching panel four months later, which felt like an eternity from when we first saw our little girl’s profile. 

We were approved as a match and things gained serious pace from here. From being calm and dealing with the endless waiting, we were all of a sudden given a date for introductions in a couple of weeks’ time. We had our seven days of introductions, where we met our daughter for the first time, and gradually took over her caregiving before we brought her to our house for the first time.

Introductions are an extremely intense time. I’ve never been so exhausted. When we were all confident that little one was ready (and that we were too!), we took her home forever. She was just over ten months old. The best and most surreal day ever! 

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It took one year from our first home visit to reach the day we brought our daughter home. Early on in the process, we had a call to say that we had passed our initial checks and they were happy for us to officially apply.

Unbeknown to us at the time, that phone call was made the same day our daughter was born. Ten months later we met her for the first time – pretty cool huh? 

I am so glad we adopted our daughter. She brings us more happiness than we ever could have imagined. One of the huge weights on my mind, when we started all this, was that I wouldn’t have that intense love that a biological mother feels for her child.

I have nieces who I love endlessly and I can see myself in them at times, and I worried I wouldn’t have this same bond when I couldn’t see myself.

When we first came home with our daughter, we were in a love bubble, it was amazing. I then faced a really tough couple of weeks when my partner went back to work, where I felt a huge struggle to bond.

I barely knew my daughter and she didn’t really know me either, we were still getting to know each other and we were both finding our feet in this new life we had. That feels like a distant memory now, the connection and bond I have with her is so strong – I couldn’t love her more, she’s so incredible.

We are completely open with her, and will always be there for her to work through any questions she has and help her to understand her whole journey, from her very first minute on this earth as much as we possibly can. 

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I document our adoption journey on my instagram account @adoptionstoryuk. Since creating this account, I have connected with so many adoptive parents on all different stages in their journey. It’s been great to be able to answer some questions for those considering adoption, and to find people who have been through and are going through the same things as us.

The adoption journey doesn’t stop the day you bring your child home, it’s a lifelong process and it will always be a huge part of our family story. For the most part, we are parents like any other, facing the same challenges as anyone with a toddler and having close friends who are going through these challenges at the same time is a real godsend. 

It’s not easy! Parenting is so hard, and sometimes it can feel like no one understands you or is on the same wavelength. There have been moments that in just a second I can go from fine, to feeling so alone.

Every time I’m in a conversation with other mums about pregnancy, how amazing the newborn phase is, breastfeeding, how they have their dad’s hair or their mum’s eyes, I remember I don’t know what any of that feels like.

Although you are likely to find yourself at times surrounded by parents who have been on a journey you simply can’t relate to, they similarly cannot relate to the journey of adopting a child. It’s one hell of a journey, it’s messy, it’s emotional, but most of all it’s really really beautiful and it’s so special because it can feel like you’re the only ones who know its true magic – and there’s something quite comforting about that. 

There is so much more I could say about our adoption journey, but I am grateful to even be able to share this much and create awareness and inclusivity around a different way to becoming a parent. 

Author: Laura Hodges