When we started our adoption journey, I struggled to find nice cards and gifts for us to send to our social worker and the girl’s foster carers. In the end, I made my own and We Made a Wish was born.
That was over seven years ago and things have moved on a lot since then. There’s some wonderful small businesses creating gifts and cards to celebrate that families come together in so many different ways.
Over the next few months, I’m going to be introducing some of these businesses and the wonderful products they sell. First up is Jeanette from The Brave Bear Collection.
I have created a brand called The Brave Bear Collection. This is a collection of jewellery and gifts for those on their journey to parenthood through IVF, Adoption, Surrogacy. It’s also for those struggling to get there. Everything I’ve created has been inspired by reflecting on my own journey to parenthood. And what a journey it was…
After numerous miscarriages, surgeries and a round of IVF which left me terribly poorly, we re-evaluated what it was we were doing. We thought long and hard about why we wanted children. It turned out none of the reasons were for us to create small versions of our genetic selves.
We wanted a family. I wanted to mother and care for a small person. I needed more in my life as it wasn’t complete. My husband wanted to be a dad. He wanted to play. Have a little best friend and go on adventures. So we questioned why we were putting ourselves through that pain.
In November 2018 we attended an adoption evening and that was it. We had found our place in the journey to parenthood.
We found the social worker visits intense. But the whole time you think they are being so intrusive, you just have to have a little word with yourself… they are planning on giving you an actual child so it’s completely justified.
I am a really impatient person so the journey to parenthood as a whole didn’t suit me. However, the adoption process was manageable because we were always working towards the next goal. The next social worker visit, then panel, then matching panel, then family finding.
Our first social worker visit was in November 2018 and we went to approval Panel in March 2019. So for us, the process was quick. I think we were lucky to get a really good and thorough social worker.
After approval panel we looked on Linkmaker and also at a few different sibling sets through our local adoption agency. Then in May we got an email about a baby girl. It was set to be an early permanence placement.
I will never forget the moment I received that email. I just knew. I can still picture myself in my office reading the email. It was like the world had stopped and everything was just happening around me while I read it.
Our social worker came round with her profile and I don’t really remember listening to anything that was being said as I was just looking at her picture on the front of her profile. I couldn’t take my eyes off it.
We went to matching panel and the match was approved. The first time we met was in the waiting room of a hospital as we were able to go with the foster carers to one of her medical appointments. I remember being so nervous on the way there. I didn’t know how to contain my emotions at the thought we could be seeing our child for the first time.
We walked in and she was laid in her pushchair, looking up at me with her beautiful eyes. The foster carer looked at me and just said “you can push her now”. I took the handle and burst into tears. It was such a huge moment that I had waited so long for.
Having to hand her back was one of the hardest things I have ever done. During introductions week we felt the same. It was such a rollercoaster of emotions. By the end of the week it was getting harder and harder to leave her. On the final night my husband turned to me with tears rolling down his face saying he couldn’t leave her. Thankfully we knew it was just one more night.
The day she came home was a mixture of emotions. Taking a baby away from everything they have ever known and people that loved her so much was so hard. Yet taking home the baby we longed for was everything. The male foster carer had been incredibly upset on the day we left. I will always remember him turning back in floods of tears as we left and hugging my husband saying “please take good care of her – I love her”.
As we left the foster carers I handed over some gifts for them and they handed farewell gifts to us. I found it so difficult to know what to buy them. What do you get the person who cared for and loved your child before you even knew them? This is where my business idea began.
When we came home I dressed my daughter in a baby grow I had to get made from ebay and personalised with ‘Wanted. Chosen. Loved. Adopted’. Adoption clothes weren’t a thing.
A few months later we got our final adoption order and were able to have an adoption celebration. There were limited adoption gifts available so I made our daughter a keyring as a keepsake of the day.
After reflecting on our journey to parenthood, I started creating the Brave Bear Collection. I remembered back to the day I found out I couldn’t have children. A friend of mine turned up with a card in which she wrote ‘The greater your storm, the brighter your rainbow’.
She said she didn’t know what to bring or write and hoped it was the right choice of words. It was perfect. It was the most accurate representation of how I feel about our journey. Our storm was long and hard but we never, ever take our daughter for granted. We appreciate every little thing.
This inspired me to create gifts that say the right words, when you don’t know what the right words are. I’ve been there and lived it so I know what would help in that moment. I had to come out of the other side of this journey and reflect on it to start creating the collection.
My business represents the unrepresented. It gives people the right thing to say and gift. At times when you don’t have the words I hope it provides them.
For anyone still on their journey remember nothing worth having comes easy.
My collection is available at www.bravebearcollection.etsy.com