This interview was first published in October 2019. @suddenlymummyat40ish shares her experience as a single adopter who’s mum to a then five year old little girl. They live in Surrey.
Was your agency a local authority or voluntary agency?
Voluntary – Barnardos
Did you read any adoption stories before you started? If so where?
I read books by Dan Hughes, Sally Donovan, adoption magazines, talked to adopters.
What was your biggest worry before you started?
That I wouldn’t be able to afford to adopt as a single parent. I decided I had to look at my finances and see where I could save money. I stopped going out as much, stopped buying clothes and lived more frugally.
It wasn’t a sacrifice because I wanted to be a mummy and I knew I’d be a good mummy. I lost a few friends along the way who weren’t always the most understanding but I have gained some new wonderful friends who I can call on for support and encouragement.
How long did the process take from the point of deciding you wanted to adopt to your child coming home?
It took a year and five months.
What age and number of children were you approved for? Were you matched to a different age or number of children from this?
I was approved for children aged between 5 and 7. My daughter is 5.
How did the matching process work? Did you look at lots of profiles?
My daughter’s profile was the second one I looked at. As soon as I saw the video of her I just knew I wanted to find out more about this beautiful, sassy little girl! People told me that you just know when you have found your child and it was a feeling I will never forget! I just thought “that is my daughter”.
What has been the most difficult part about the process?
The level of paperwork and scrutiny sometimes felt like I was doing another degree. I just had to focus on why I was doing it and then I just ploughed through it.
The social workers visits after a long day at work were quite intense but I made sure I was showered and in my pjs! I found discussing some very painful moments of my journey to become a Mummy extremely difficult. I am grateful I had some counselling before I started the adoption journey.
It was also quite difficult at work as everyone wants dates and when you’re adopting you can’t give a date when you will need to start your adoption leave. It’s slightly different to having a baby.
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?
I am the fourth carer that my daughter came to. Before matching panel it was agreed that I would be entitled to twenty weeks of counselling to support me and help her to settle in.
This support will help me so much as if I’m not in tip top condition I can’t support my daughter when she needs me most. I’ve only had two sessions but talking about why my daughter behaves in certain ways helps me to develop lots more empathy for her in her worst moments.
What has been your best memory since your child(ren) came home?
The day I met my daughter was wonderful! She ran down the garden with her arms open wide holding the bunny I had sent ahead of me with a book about her new home. I will never forget that moment. It was amazing.
At bedtime this week she sang Row Row Your Boat to me and changed the words to “If you see Mummy don’t forget to love her!” I have to admit I did shed a tear as I gave her a big hug!
I also love holding her hand and taking her to school although sometimes the mornings aren’t always the easiest part of my day! I’ve dreamed of that moment for many years.
If you could go back and have a conversation with yourself about the process before you started, what would you tell yourself?
My top tips
*Develop a good strong support network, you need friends who will invite you to the park and bring you food when you are on your knees with tiredness.
*Save save save lots of money.
*Ignore a lot of advice about how to cope with your child. You know them best, go with your gut instinct and take what advice you need.
* Be careful about who you share your child’s past with. Some people are intrigued but only share with those you can trust.
* Choose a school that you feel will support your child in their worst moments, ask where they will take them, what training they have had on attachment/trauma.
*Adopting a child is hard work. Develop good self-care habits now!
*Keep remembering why you are adopting. It is a long, emotional journey but oh so worth it!
*Don’t be so hard on yourself on tricky days. Parenting an adopted child is not all unicorns and glitter, it is raw, tiring and sometimes you will need to dig deep but it is doable! High five yourself after surviving long days.
*Enjoy special moments and remember that after a difficult day a good one will come with happy times to treasure.