Judith and Richard's story
Like many couples today, Judith and Richard did not make the decision to start a family until Judith was in her mid-thirties.
After a couple of years of trying to conceive the couple began fertility treatment which proved unsuccessful. By this time Judith was 39 and the couple had almost given up hope.
After a great deal of thought the couple agreed that what they wanted the most was a family and they therefore decided to adopt.
A big family
Their family is now considerably bigger, having adopted three siblings: Beth, aged 6, and George and Daniel, twins, aged 5. 'We went from being just a husband and wife to a family of five!' says Judith.
But it wasn't an overnight process. It took about 16 months from their initial enquiry with Action for Children until they were approved and then matched with their new family - and that's relatively quick.
'This was a very difficult time for us because, just like going through IVF, you feel powerless,' comments Judith. During this time various police checks, assessments and an adoption panel took place, followed by the preparation groups run by Action for Children.
Both Judith and Richard thought these sessions had an important role to play. 'While you can never be totally prepared for the changes that happen when you adopt three children, the courses that Action for Children provided were really useful. They addressed issues like the feelings the children might have about being adopted and how we could help them through it. I'm not sure we could have coped without them. They also enable you to meet other adopters and share your experiences - a real help!' Richard explains. 'In fact Judith is now involved as a parent supporter at some of the preparation groups Action for Children run.'
Judith is asked to describe the children and she instantly chuckles. 'All three are completely different characters: Beth is bright and bubbly and while she takes full advantage of being the big sister, she also enjoys a good dose of rough and tumble with the boys! She does well at school and has, over time, made some good friendships that she will take with her onto secondary school.
'The boys have offered a much greater challenge! Boisterous and full of energy that unfortunately doesn't always extend to their schoolwork! Being twins has also been difficult. They were born prematurely and later were diagnosed with having oral dyspraxia and glue ear. All of which, on top of their disrupted lives, has contributed to some major learning difficulties and speech and language delay. However they are adorable and very lovable and after nearly five years with us are beginning to make good steady progress.'
Judith continues: 'People ask a lot of questions about adoption and I have even been asked if I have the same maternal feelings towards my children as other mothers. I say, "Yes, and more." I don't believe it is possible to love anyone more than I love my children. I have been bowled over by the whole thing. So has the rest of our extended family.'
Despite occasional difficulties, there are plenty of high points. When George received an achievement award in assembly and won the Easter competition at school he said afterwards, 'I knew you were proud of me Mummy 'cos you were smiling!'
Something for life
Asked if they had any pointers for people thinking about adopting, Richard had some good advice: 'Remember this is something for life - it's probably the most important decision you will ever make, so think long and hard about it. And don't try to do it alone. There's lots of support out there but it's important to find an adoption agency that's right for you - we liked the fact that Action for Children offer independent advice and support, and we felt they always acted in our best interest right throughout the process and have continued to offer a high level of support. And even now, they are always keen to know how we are getting on!'
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