I haven’t published a “Spotlight On” feature for a few months so I’m delighted it’s back. This month’s feature is all about Adopt Together which is the registered adoption agency for Faith in Families, (formerly Catholic Children’s Society) a children’s charity based in Nottingham. This article has been written by Laura Payne, Head of Professional Services for the charity.
As a voluntary adoption agency, we place children from local authorities who have usually been taken into Care and who need a forever family. Since lockdown we have worked hard to continue recruiting, preparing, assessing and approving prospective adopters and matching them with children.
Most of our contact has had to be via video platforms and our training delivered virtually. We have had to carefully risk assess with our local authority partners when a placement goes ahead and do our very best to keep everyone safe. However, our strapline from the beginning has been – 4,000 children are waiting so we can’t stop!
In previous times of uncertainty we have seen a dip in people coming forward. But during the pandemic, this trend has reversed and we have been incredibly busy. We’re looking to approve twice as many families this year as last year. We can only speculate as to why this is. Has lockdown caused people to think about what really matters? Have they had more time to reflect on what is a big decision? We’ll never know but it’s marvellous to have been able to approve so many families despite having to work in a very different way. We may be busy but our doors remain wide open so visit www.faithinfamilies.org to find out more.
Here is one of our family’s adoption story –
Our journey to becoming a family
My husband and I had been hoping and trying to become parents for a long and difficult time before we found Faith in Families. Even once we had decided that adoption was our next step, it was a while before we found them…
Our first point of contact was our local authority. But after going to an initial meeting, our hopes were dashed when they informed us that they had a long waiting list and to get back to them in a few months. A few months! To someone who had already waited patiently for what seemed like forever to become a mother, this was like asking me to wait another decade.
I didn’t give up hope though, and rang round all our other nearest local authorities, only to be faced with the same answer….join a waiting list. I had expected to be snapped up as I knew that sadly there are thousands of children in care needing a forever family.
My spirits were very low when I started to look into other agencies who might be able to help us adopt. Faith in Families came up first in my search. I rang and spoke to the duty social worker, admittedly rather glumly, as I expected the same answer that everyone else had given.
However, the lady at the other end of the phone was kind, helpful and best of all, positive. She said that there was no waiting list and asked if we would like to come to a ‘First Thursday’ meeting. Yes, we would!
From that very first phone call, to the First Thursday meeting, and every interaction with Faith in Families since, we have found them to be professional, sensitive, caring and supportive. Now we actually feel pleased that our first enquiries into adopting with local authorities did not work out. We wouldn’t have found Faith in Families if they had.
The training and preparation process was extremely thorough. The chance to meet with adoptive parents who were further down the line than us was so valuable. It was clear that they were not finding parenting an adopted child easy, but ultimately had no regrets and were so happy to finally be parents. This is exactly how it has been for us.
Our little boy was two a half when he came to live with us. I will never forget the first moment I saw him on our first day of introductions. A beautiful little boy, with a mop of blond hair and big blue eyes, wrapped up in a green coat with a furry hood.
He was playing outside in the foster carer’s back garden, despite the cold, and asked my husband and I to play football with him. We exchanged a quick look, which said it all…he likes us! He wants us to play with him! Isn’t he gorgeous! After that first short visit, we went for a long walk. We were too excited and emotional to sit still, already counting down until we could visit him again the next day. I also clearly remember the first time he reached out his hand to me for comfort. The first time he sat on my lap. The first time he said “Mummy”.
That was three years ago and our son is now five and a half. He’s a funny, bright, active little school boy who loves cars and nature. We have spent many more hours playing outside in all weathers. We’ve watched him learn to ride a bike, to read and swim. Walked with him to collect conkers, helped him hang up his stocking on Christmas Eve. All things I’d dreamed of doing for so long.
The road has not been smooth. Far from it. We know that there will continue to be ups and downs for a long while to come, if not forever. A child who has experienced trauma needs love, security and patience while they try to deal with the grief, loss and confusion caused by their early life experiences. These are feelings which do not go away, but can come out as anger, hurt and sadness. They need help to process and make sense of it all.
For us, this has not made for an easy few years. We have needed the support of our family and friends, and of Faith in Families. They have always been there for us all, and will continue to be there in the future. Despite all the tricky times though, it’s the happy memories that we remember. Like the first time he saw the beach, played in the snow, tried on his school uniform and scored his first goal for his football team.
We love him fiercely and proudly, and becoming a little family of three was the best thing we ever did.