In our final blog of the series single adopter Samantha talks to us about some of the highs and lows of Early Permanence and the absolute need for a fantastic support network.
*Names and some details have been changed to protect the identities of the people in this story, the rest is real, written by a real adopter about her real life experience of adoption as a single parent.
I’d been in the adoption process for a while; there had been a number of really hopeful moments where we thought I had a match but which later ended in disappointment. This is sometimes the reality of adoption, however this didn’t make it any less frustrating. After much hesitation and consideration, I decided to take the Early Permanence route. After a couple more false starts, I got a phone call to say there was a relinquished baby and that the social workers wanted to come and visit me the next day. More visits quickly followed, including a very emotional meeting with the birth parents a week later.
11 days after the initial phone call, my daughter was born. I met her a day later in hospital, spent a night with her there and then took her home the following day.
I had naively thought I wouldn’t bond with her immediately, that I would somehow be able to ‘protect myself’ for the first 6 weeks until her birth parents were able to give their consent for her to be adopted.
I fell in love with her immediately and felt an intense protectiveness towards her. The first few months of fostering were hard. It is a necessity of the process that foster carers have regular monitoring visits and this can feel invasive at times as you have many meetings with the professionals involved.
The parents signed the adoption forms just after six weeks and whilst the process to formalise her adoption was relatively quick and straightforward for me, those first few months were excruciating for me and my family. All my tenacity, calmness and patience were tested to their limits.
The stress of the process and the uncertainty on top of being the single mum of a newborn were unbelievable – looking back I’m not sure how I got through it. It was only possible with the strong support of family and friends.
I was very lucky- six months after my daughter came to live with me, the court granted her Adoption Order. We had a wonderful celebration hearing and such a special first Christmas together. It took me a while to really accept and believe that she was truly my little girl but as a chattering, walking and tantruming 18 month old, it feels like we have journeyed a lifetime together already! I have been blown away by the love I feel for her and can truly say it was all totally worth it in the end!
One thing that has surprised me is the responses of other people to the fact my daughter is adopted. I expected everyone to respond with positivity but I have sometimes been met with invasive questions and negative comments. I’ve had to toughen up and accept that not everybody ‘gets’ us and I’ve also learned not to share her very private story with anyone other than very close family and a few trusted friends. My line these days when people ask is to say ‘I’m not allowed to share that’ and I’ve learned to close down the questioning quickly. As a wise friend said ‘a few care, most are just curious….’
Some final tips for those of you on this incredible journey, especially if you choose Early Permanence:
- Be prepared for a bumpy ride – even the most straightforward scenarios have blips, delays and unexpected developments.
- Prepare your friends and family to support you in every way possible – practical, emotional, etc.
- Be patient with the process – if you are used to being in control of your life, be prepared to give that up (temporarily)!
- People are very curious about adoption – it is poorly understood (which has to be rectified!); only share your child’s story with a small, trusted circle.
- Be kind to yourself – you have to have breaks and look after yourself. I personally find this very hard but it’s so important.
- Don’t give up – the waiting is so hard but when your child or children come to you, it will all be worth it.