Listen to five black women talk about adoption

Joshua’s story

We got married in 1992 and wanted children, when it didn’t happen straight away it simply wasn’t an issue, especially as we were still at university. I knew I had polycystic ovarian syndrome. I’d been diagnosed with it when I was 17. I knew in its worst form it could cause infertility but I’d hoped for the best. I didn’t know how badly I had it – well you wouldn’t until you actually tried to conceive, would you?

Our next step was to try IVF. We tried five courses of IVF and each one was unsuccessful. It was a friend who brought up the idea of adoption. I thought about it quite a lot and the idea grew. But when I brought up the subject with Shegun he was reserved. His main fears were that he wouldn’t be able to ‘love someone else’s child’. He was very honest and real about his emotions and as it is something we both needed to be certain about I left it for awhile. Later that year we visited relatives in the States, who had recently gone through the adoption process and their experience made us think again about how it could work for us.

The adoption process is intensive but we felt our social workers understood all the issues that arose and really helped us through the approval process. They explained the reasons they ask so many questions and I can imagine some people might bristle at some of the personal questions we were asked. You’re not being judged on your life experiences but how you have dealt with life’s events.

We wondered if the social workers would understand us and understand our culture. Our imagination was definitely worse than the reality!

Gradually through the process we realised all the social workers are doing is what is necessary to get a child into a suitable home. They are trying to find out which child would be the best ‘fit’. If you were looking for a school, child-minder, babysitter etc. you would want to know if that person is capable emotionally, physically and psychologically to do the job, wouldn’t you?

When we were matched with Joshua it was an amazing experience. We were fully briefed about his history and the placing process was done very gradually. We still have contact with his birth mother and talk openly with Joshua about his ‘tummy mummy’.

Some black families distrust people in authority and fear institutional racism. All we can say is that we were welcomed into the process and felt that social workers just want to do the best for the black children they have needing homes.

Next: Toby’s story