I always wanted to be a teacher and I always wanted to adopt. It had nothing to do with my experience of growing up or the people I knew. I just knew that it was something I wanted to do. Coming from a Caribbean background it’s deemed as really important to have your own biological children. But as a young woman I had medical issues and a hysterectomy. I knew then that when the time was right I would adopt.
At the time of my expression of interest I was living with my boyfriend of ten years, and I explained to him that I wanted to adopt, that the time was right for me, and asked how he felt about it. He already had two grown children and decided that he didn’t want to do it again. But he expressed his willingness to support me all the way.
So I moved out, he came house hunting with me, helped me to do up the house, he did everything with me. Yes it was difficult explaining to the social workers about our relationship, because it wasn’t necessarily traditional. But they were accepting and he became one of my referees. He is still a very large part of our lives.
The toughest bit, was trying to figure out how I was going to afford to adopt. My sister put me straight here she said “If you’re waiting for the day when you can afford a child, you’re never going to have one, it just happens and you just make it work.”
Financially I had to prove that I would be able to take time off work. The social workers made me evidence how I would make it work. I had to do a budget and explain about how I could use my savings, map out how I would support myself if there was an emergency. It was very hard, but it didn’t put me off. I provided all that was needed to evidence that I could manage. But at the same time I realised that if I didn’t adopt a child, I could take a promotion! Earn more money! Keep my second property! Take those long luxurious holidays! But there was no trade off. My mind was set, it was worth the sacrifice.
The assessment was very in depth covering my family, childhood, relationships, childcare experience, support networks, absolutely everything. They are not trying to catch you out, they just want to know what type of parent you are going to be, where your ideas have come from, what ideas you are going to repeat from your experience of being parented and what you wouldn’t do again. I spent a lot of time reflecting on the past, and talking to my parents about the questions the social workers asked. It made my think about why I am the way I am.
Just weeks before I was due at panel for approval, I was contacted with news of a young baby, who had become available for adoption. I panicked. I had planned in my head that it would take 2 years from the start of the assessment to being matched with a child. All my well laid plans went out of the window, and two weeks after my approval Vivien came to live with me, she was 8 months old.
It was a nice surprise to get such a young child but I had prepared myself for a child of school age. At first it felt like I was babysitting. I found it really hard not being at work. She was a very content and calm baby, and I had nothing to do all day, and it drove me absolutely potty. We went to the park and to some toddler groups, but I didn’t enjoy as it did not stimulate me, so I found myself quite cut off. What kept me going was the Adoption UK forum. It provided answers to my questions, I realised that other adopters were having similar experiences and feelings. People echoed how I was feeling. And it’s made me realise that my thoughts were not unusual. Things like “What have I done?” and “I didn’t think this through!”
When Vivien was first poorly with a terribly high temperature those negative thoughts stopped. I realised she was mine and that we needed each other.