Our journey: adopting a child with additional needs and unknowns

We first met you online.

Our journey adopting a child with additional needs and unknowns.

Going through the adoption process we had preconceptions of the sort of child we would like to complete our family…. but the further along the process we got the more we understood about the types of children, who through no fault of their own, were left longer waiting to be adopted. These children are mostly being part of sibling groups or have additional needs and unknowns in their future.

Everyone has their own preconception of a perfect child, but we both feel that just because a child has unknowns/uncertainties in their genetic makeup or pre-diagnosed medical conditions, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t love them. If we were to have had a biological child that got diagnosed with a medical condition, we wouldn’t love them any less or give them up so, why would we let it affect whether we adopted a child with the same.

“It doesn’t make them any less loveable if anything you love them more as you know they will need your love to give them strength.”

We were booked on to our Approval Panel at end of November 2020, just before this date came around, we were invited to a Virtual Family Finding Event (when the dreaded corona virus struck, it changed the way almost everything in the world was done including the adoption Family Finding). We got to meet virtually with Family Finders and Children’s Social Workers who introduced us via videos and photos to some of the children they had been looking for, that were waiting longer than the team would normally anticipate, as they all had health conditions or medical unknowns.

As we hadn’t been approved to adopt yet we thought this was more a chance for us to see how the Family Finding part of the process went, and we didn’t want to contemplate feeling an attachment to any of these children, with the approval process not yet completed. We were trying to avoid getting our hopes up . . .

Well, as you’ve probably guessed, it didn’t work out that way! We heard our (now) daughter’s story and, about her up to that point. She is probably the only child we have ever heard of that was described as feisty at 1 year old. She had a smile and laugh that melted our hearts, but also had suffered elevated cortisol levels during pregnancy and a duplicate chromosome that came with a neurological disability meaning it was “possible” in the future that she may have problems with movement and speech as well as a predisposition to ADHD and mental health problems as both birth parents had diagnosed conditions. Her only diagnosis at this point, was developmental delay; at 14mths she was only just able to hold her head up unaided.

“While this was obviously all a bit daunting and scary, the more we listened, the more we fell that little bit more in love with her.”

Fast forward to the end of that month we were overjoyed to be approved to adopt and we didn’t hesitate to contact our social worker to initiate registering interest in the wonderful little girl we met at that Virtual Family Finding session. We both kept watching the 11 second video introduction of her, over and over, even though we said we wouldn’t get attached it was too late we were smitten.

There was a lot to learn from our daughters Child Permanence Report (CPR) about the bigger picture of her birth family and her identity. A lot of uncertainty lay ahead, but we were head over heels in love with this tiny spirited little fighter and hoped that the family finders and matching panel could see that we would be a perfect match as a family and luckily, they did.

We were lucky to have had very experienced foster carers raise our daughter for the first 15 months of her life, and they were able to share all her likes/dislikes and gave us a detailed history of her progress. They were very open and honest, and encouraged us to ask as many questions as possible. Our little girl needed us to be there to fight and advocate for her every step of the way and to support, guide and love her, to help her develop.

When we first met her at 15 months old, she was only just able to self-support holding her head up and shuffling on her bottom, which tied in with the uncertain medical prognosis’s stating she may have difficulties with movement amongst other things.

In the year that our daughter has been with us she has already accomplished so much with the help and support of medical professionals and SENCO staff at preschool, she is now walking and makes lots of noise with a few words.

We are always being told that we have done a wonderful thing adopting her but we see it as the opposite, she has done a wonderful thing for us, she has made our lives complete and taught us so much, how to be patient, how to be determined and never give up,  and how to laugh until we cry. But, most importantly how to be a family, to fight for each other, and to love each other unconditionally.

Thank you for reading our story and here is to a lifetime of future happiness for you and your family.

Our thanks to these wonderful adopters, I am sure you will agree their love for their little girl just radiates from their words. We are very grateful to them, for allowing us to share their story. Some details have been changed to maintain confidentiality.