Melissa and her husband adopted two sisters. Her Instagram account @us2rabbitandmoo gives an honest account of the highs and lows of their parenting journey.
Introduce yourself and your family
Hi. My name is Melissa and my partner’s name is Graham. Graham is 35 and I am 32, we have been married for 9 years and together for 11. Graham and I adopted our 2 daughters in 2015 and we have just celebrated 4 years together as a family.
I am a now a stay at home therapeutic parent but previously worked as a National Account Manager and Graham works for a scaffolding company.
What area of the UK do you live in?
We live in the South West of England
Was your agency a local authority or voluntary agency?
We adopted through our local authority
Did you read any adoption stories before you started? If so where? (eg blog, Instagram, books)
No. Our adoption process was very much a personal one which was born through conversations with each other after experiencing several miscarriages. We read up on adoption through the information provided from our local authority once we had already made the decision and through recommended book lists.
I was unaware of the online community for adoption in the UK and most places I looked showed adoption stories from the US. This was a big part of my decision to start a public Instagram account “Us2rabbitandmoo” to share our journey and connect with other adopters in the UK. We have a lovely community now which is growing and follows the hashtag #ukadoptioncommunity
I have also found some groups on Facebook which are supportive for attachment disorder and therapeutic parenting.
What was your biggest worry before you started?
I was worried that it would take years and years!
How long did the process take from the point of deciding you wanted to adopt to your child(ren) coming home?
We were very fortunate in that it took us a year almost to the day. We registered our interest at an information event on the 7th July 2014 and we met our daughters on the 6th July 2015. They moved home on the 15th July after introductions.
What age and number of children were you approved for? Were you matched to a different age or number of children from this?
We were approved for siblings under 5. We were open to a sibling group of 3 max. Our daughters were 2 and 3 when we were match with them.
How did the matching process work? Did you look at lots of profiles?
We heard about a possible match of 3 siblings, however their court order hadn’t been processed yet and they were returned to birth mother. We never actually saw their profiles.
We viewed some profiles on “be my parent” but nothing concrete and then we were called about a sibling group of 2 girls who were looking for a forever home as their court order had been processed. We met their social worker a few weeks later and viewed their CPRs….. they were our little girls.
What has been the most difficult part about the process?
We found the adoption process enjoyable. We had a fantastic social worker who was with us through both stages which I think helped with continuity and speed.
We found the paperwork quite laborious and some of it did feel a little irrelevant but we understood that they needed to know as much as they could about us to ensure a successful match. The adoption training days were interesting and we met some lovely people who are now life-long friends of ours.
I would honestly say the hardest part of the process happens when they come home…. that’s when the real learning starts!
Have you needed to access additional help and support from your agency since your child came home? If so, what and did it meet your needs?
Yes, we have accessed support via our local authority and the ASF (Adoption Support Fund).
We have had therapeutic parenting support from a therapist who talked things through with us on a fortnightly basis. We found this to be invaluable and wish all adoptive families could have something like this as standard.
We have also accessed several assessments including sensory processing and story stem which has helped us understand our girls’ needs in more depth and allowed us to adapt our parenting to support them better.
We did find getting help initially was hard and we had to fight (too hard in my opinion) to get practical help for our family, but once in place it has been a god send.
What has been your best memory since your children came home?
Oh gosh…. too many to count!
Being called “mummy” for the first time has to be up there with the greatest moment in my life!
Those moments when they have fallen asleep on me (showing they trusted they were safe).
Watching them achieve things that we questioned would ever be possible; such as standing up on stage for dance shows and school plays or getting certificates for achievements.
Teaching them to ride their bikes and to swim
I love watching them grow and learn and achieve, they are so rewarding and we have so many wonderful memories I could go on and on.
If you could go back and have a conversation with yourself about the process before you started, what would you tell yourself?
I would tell myself to ask more questions about their needs and not be so scared about the local authority changing their mind just because we had some concerns. I would have reached out for help earlier on and been more upfront about what we all needed by way of support.
I would also say to myself – Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to be perfect…. you will make mistakes, some small, some big. Forgive yourself.
You will love these 2 girls more than you’ve ever loved anything in your life and they will evoke every emotion from you including ones you didn’t think you had. You will surprise yourself with the things you think you’ll be good at but actually you’ll find hard and the things you thought would be hard but they will come naturally to you.
I would tell myself that I won’t love every second but that overall the good days will outweigh the bad.
I still have to remind myself of all of the above on a daily basis!!
First published in October 2019