I reside in west London and used to be a foster carer. When one of the children (with a disability) in my care could not find a permanent family I decided to adopt him. At this time I refrained from fostering as I no longer had a spare room and stayed at home to look after my children.
In dealing with the first adoption I found the process intrusive, emotional and draining but I do believe that it was because I was so fond of him as I had fostered him since birth. The very idea of no one wanting him because he had a disability was very upsetting for me and I just knew I had to be there for him in the future. He is just like a normal little boy – he’s funny, adorable and he often has us in fits of laughter and it made the intrusive assessment worth it. I could not imagine life without him. What’s more, to anyone else going through the adoption process: remember the process is daunting because these children are in care for a reason and its essential that the right family is found for the child to prevent them from having to go through another difficult situation in their young lives.
I went through the process and talked about all the issues in my past which I had not dealt with for some time like family bereavements and things that I found difficult. I am an open and honest person and I worked through the process of becoming a first-time adopter. With the support of the social worker I was approved about six months later and I was relieved.
I have three children of my own and this increased to four after the adoption. As a single parent I had no intention of having any more children especially after having adopted a child who didn’t sleep for a year (or that is how it felt ). Little did I realise I would end up having five children. My adopted son’s sibling came up for adoption shortly after birth and I could not think about them not growing up together. They were lucky to have contact and develop a relationship and when she joined us she slept through the night with no problem. It was as if she had come home!
So, with a total of five children – three boys and two girls – life is by no means a walk in the park but they have guaranteed me a ‘lifetime of happiness’. I have learnt to do my shopping online and gain the support of my family: in particular my mum, my sister and my brother help manage the needs of my family. I have learnt the key to raising children is having a good support network and ensuring everyone gets some special one to one time with me.
As a second time adopter, preparing for the approval process was less intrusive although the need to be approved was far more important than ever. I struggled every day for those six months (prior to becoming approved) with how I would deal with the situation if I was not approved as her adopter.
The older children are very protective of the younger children and whilst they know they are adopted they are my son and daughter now. In life we have learnt to work with what we have and make the best of it. It includes lots of laughter and tears and I would not swap it for anything.
I have enabled this sibling group to grow up together and develop their own bond. This was particularly important as one of the children is partially blind and, as such, has special needs.
As a foster carer I had undertaken training and then as a two-time adopter I undertook the preparation training. After the adoption process we continued to attend support groups after adoption meetings and the Christmas party. At these events two of my adopted children have been able to make friends with children that have had the same journey as themselves. This will follow them through life. Thankfully the journey they make as adoptive children is one that they are able to do together rather than apart and that means the world to me.
Be assured, parenting is the hardest job in the world and I stand firm with that view! But I do know that I was meant to foster to meet them and that is how I know they were meant to become part of our family.
I come from a large family and my Dad came from a family of 10 and so, for me, having five children is normal. I remember my childhood memories included fun times, naughty times and a bond that has lasted through my life. I am only too pleased to say that being siblings together they will make memories, have fun (and argue) and undertake their adoption journey together as siblings.
One might say with five children I can’t get out much but I do! We all have our times out doing what we like with friends but I know in my heart I am happiest at home with my children and my family.
If you are inspired by Linda’s story and think you could adopt register your interest in adoption here and we will call you back