The next Small Business Spotlight features the wonderful Mumaduke designs. Created by Zoe, mum to an amazing little boy Cub, this business has been a pioneer for adoption and fostering products. Over the last five years, her business has become a wonderful collection of cards and gifts to recognise the different ways families are made through adoption.
Zoe’s beautiful products help us celebrate our children and acknowledge that although they’ve had a traumatic start to their lives, they aren’t defined by that and are loved and celebrated by all of their family. They also help us say thank you to the wonderful social workers and foster carers who keep our children safe until we’re able to bring them home.
In this article, Zoe shares some of her journey to becoming a mum through adoption, and why she started Mumaduke designs. You can follow her on Instagram
I wanted a baby for as long as I can remember. When my sister and I were smaller, we often joked that I would have a house full of children and she would give birth to a monkey or some sort of animal.
I always had a doll, buggy and handbag! I couldn’t wait to grow up and have a family.
When I was in my teens my aunty went through IVF and had twins. My eyes were opened then to the difficulties one may have in conceiving. I did used to say, if I have to have IVF, I will have twins too! Little did I know then that IVF doesn’t always work.
Skipping forward many years, I married the boy from the top of the road (true story!). We decided that we were ready to start a family. I’m an impatient person at the best of times, but waiting each month to find out if I was pregnant was hard. I knew straight away something wasn’t quite right.
Fast forward five long years, two rounds of IVF and no pregnancies, we started the adoption process.
Adoption was a route to parenthood I’d thought about long before trying for a biological child.
We heard a radio advert for our local adoption agency. They were having a drop in event. So, we gathered our parents and headed over. Apparently it was the first time prospective adopters had brought their parents along! For us it was about everyone finding out the same information at the same time. It was also a chance for our parents to ask questions.
Our journey through the process was pretty straight forward. Our only hold up was one reference and overseas checks. From start to approval panel was nine months (the assessment should now take around six months). Any delays I found frustrating at that time were nothing to the feeling of being out of control and impatience when we were waiting for our match.
I took matters into my own hands and scoured Link Maker. We enquired about several children, but we weren’t the right parents for them.
Three long months later (I’m aware matching is taking a lot longer at present) we had a call from our social worker. She told us about our soon to be little boy. That night I slept, properly, and dreamt about him. Any concerns I had were laid to rest and as we found out more and more about him, the more he sounded like our son.
We had a very positive two weeks of introductions with Cub sleeping over earlier than planned. Then he moved in forever.
Being a new mum
Adjusting to being a mother took me longer than I thought it would. In hindsight, I put far too much pressure on myself and I do seem to look back and remember more of the tough times, mixed in with the wonderful.
We had a tough time with sleep for three years. I won’t go into now, or this will be pages long! I talk about it in my blog and will no doubt speak about it again. All has now settled down and Cub is generally amazing. So all our hard work has paid off.
A year into being parents I found myself feeling like I had lost who I was. I was everything I had always wanted to be, but surely I didn’t have to swap one life for another? I started hobbies such as crochet and sewing, which I loved. They gave me a bit of myself back. Me time. Which looking back was really me needing to look after myself.
One day, five years ago, I looked high and low for an appropriate card to send birth family. I went into 13 different shops and couldn’t find anything. So, I went home and made my own.
I then got thinking, I wanted a bauble with Cubs special dates on, and milestone cards specific to our journey. I couldn’t see anything available. So I chatted with a good friend and started getting Mumaduke Designs off the ground.
I started with prints celebrating adoption, then brought out the adoption milestone cards and then greetings cards. The last five years has been a huge learning curve. Every year I tweak the products I offer to ensure I am being as inclusive and respectful as possible.
Running a business with no business background at all hasn’t been easy. Everything is learnt from scratch, but I do love it. Hearing stories and messages from my customers is wonderful. I’m sometime the first person to know they’ve decided to adopt which is so special. So, thank you all for supporting me.
Cub loves my shop, he has stolen each of the sample teddy bears! He also wants to help ‘teach’ people about adoption.
I have virtually and physically met so many wonderful families through adoption and I couldn’t be more grateful. I am excited for the future, to learn and to see how Cub grows and develops.
Adoption hasn’t been easy, but I put a lot of that down to me being a first time Mum (I would also say a very anxious and stressed first time Mum). I have made heaps of mistakes, but I have also got some things right.
As we say in our home, its ok to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them and always try your best. I am definitely stumbling my way through (I also don’t think I’m alone) reading books, listening to stories on Instagram and from friends. But I don’t feel alone. Not anymore.
Having a community around me has been vital. I have a blog about setting up your own adoption support group. In the early years of being a Mummy, I needed those other adoptive parents. Other families like us who understood.
I feel like I’m finally finding my feet. Getting a work life balance has been hard, but I feel I am getting better at it (famous last words!)
I can’t thank you all enough for your support and guidance over the last five years. I can’t wait to see where the next five takes us!
If you’d like to read more Small Business spotlight features, click here