Adoption; from babies to teens
Our story, by Lena and Michael
It was 2004 when my husband and I first began our journey into an unknown world of adoption. We both had always had a strong sense of family and so always wanted children; unfortunately, in this life, you don’t always get what you want and so different paths needed to be taken. For us, that path was to be adoption.
Soon after, I noticed a flyer for adoption and that was the start of a wonderful and exciting journey. We attended the information evening which was very informative, interesting and inspiring. I knew at that moment it was something I wanted to do. My husband, however, took a little bit more convincing (but not too much) and before long, we had made our first call and were to be visited by a social worker.
The journey begins…
The next 12 months consisted of meetings, assessments and paperwork, but nothing so stressful that it made me change my mind at all. Every day was one day closer to becoming parents. We had, by now, completed all of the assessments and the training; now was the day we were going to be heard by a panel.
If I'm honest, I didn't really understand what we would face. I still remember now, walking into a room with the largest round table I had ever seen and lots of people sitting around it. We both sat down and probably looked extremely nervous, because that's exactly what we were!
We were asked a few questions and it really wasn't as bad as I had thought and soon, we were back outside with our social worker. She was called back inside and came out soon after to tell us we had been approved to adopt two children. "Wow" was an understatement!
So, now the journey would start with our social worker, working to match us with two children. We didn’t have to wait too long before we had a call to say they had identified a sibling group; twin girls, aged 8 months. This was just so exciting!
We spoke to our social worker in regard to the girls and we were soon told we had been successfully matched - it was the most amazing news ever.
It was now up to us to give them as much love as we possibly could; we were their new forever mum and dad.
At times, it wasn’t easy; sometimes I wondered if they liked me, if we would bond, if we would get that mother and daughter relationship. I had so many feelings going through my mind. This wasn’t going to happen overnight; it took lots and lots of sheer determination to show our little people that we do love them, they do belong with us and we are not going to give up on them. You have to be strong and never stop believing in yourselves.
Our advice on reflection…
If you are thinking of adoption, I would really advise getting as much information as you can. Talk to social workers and people who have adopted. The best possible advice will come from speaking to an adopter; it was definitely something I took away from my training.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is about you changing your life, not just the children’s lives.
After adopting, we both had the biggest culture shock ever. I no longer had 5 minutes to myself and certainly never napped during the day again. Weekends away to friends stopped immediately; there was too much to take with us and as for eating out, it just seemed like too much hard work. I was too tired to put makeup on anymore, never mind make myself look decent for eating out! But, this is the reality of any new parents, not just adoptive ones.
I would never lie; it was very hard in the beginning. I cried because I was exhausted, I cried because I didn’t know if my daughters loved me, I cried sometimes for no reason. But no-one was judging me (if anything, it was me judging myself.) Was I doing this right?
The truth is, there is no right or wrong way when you adopt. Just like your friends and family who give birth, there is no book to tell you (or them) how, when and what to do you just have to do it your way and keep going and remember don’t give up it really does get easier!
Someone once asked me if I would change anything about those first few weeks my answer was simple: I wouldn’t change anything.
We were new parents, we had no children before we adopted, I was tired and scared that I wasn’t doing things right but I never ever gave up. That fight remains with me, always, embedded in my heart were it shall remain until needed again!
I definitely tried far too hard in the beginning to be the most perfect mum, but you soon realise how things will best work for you.
So what if its chicken nuggets and baked beans for lunch (again this week) and they are watching Peppa Pig for the third time this morning? If it helps me get the washing done and they are smiling, then that’s been a really good day.
Our daughters are a wonderful gift and amaze me on a daily basis. They are funny, kind and thoughtful.
Adoption is a beautiful thing. It's team work at its best; you must have a very big heart to share so much of your love.
I’m extremely proud of our journey: the tears, the tantrums, the worry and the feeling of not being good enough are all a big part of who we are today and what has made us stronger as a family.
Adopting a child is a wonderful decision. It's a lifelong commitment and one I am immensely proud to be a part of. For us, the journey continues as something we are very blessed to have.