Being a ‘Mummy’ had always been part of my plan but, for various reasons, it hadn't happened in my life. 

It had never been important to me that I have a ‘biological’ child but it took me a very long time to pluck up the courage to investigate adoption further – it’s a massive decision to make, but I’m glad I did!

I ultimately chose to adopt with Action for Children for two main reasons. Firstly, I was interested in adopting an older child and I knew that they specialised in hard to place children. Secondly, they were also the agency who was most positive and helpful when I spoke to them.  They were all friendly and interested and didn’t make me feel like any of my questions were stupid.

The adoption process was, at times, stressful and frustrating, but was ultimately life changing (in a good way!) and very rewarding.  The training sessions were really useful and have prepared me thoroughly for the challenges of parenting an adopted child –it has already proved to be invaluable.  On top of the formal training, there are also monthly support groups with a different focus every month. As well as providing good information these groups give an opportunity to create a network of friends in similar situations.  This network and ongoing support is a real strength in the way that Action for Children work and, having spoken to other adopters, is not always offered elsewhere.

The assessment process was very full-on and involved frequent long meetings with my assessing social worker. The assessment process culminated in the panel which, although it sounds really intimidating, was actually nowhere near as bad as it sounds. After around 20 minutes of questions and then a fairly short wait I was told that they were recommending that I be approved to adopt. 

 

It’s hard to describe how that feels, being approved to adopt – a real mixture of elation and trepidation!
Ruth

With my social worker’s support, I moved into the next stage of the adoption process: I expressed an interest in a few children and then came the wait to see if there would be any response. 

Eventually I was linked with a 6-year-old girl and, after a number of meetings with social workers, teachers and foster carers, I was approved to adopt her. 12 days later I met her for the first time! My Action for Children Social Worker was a massive support throughout the two-week introduction process and as a result, it felt completely natural (although obviously still slightly nerve-wracking) at the end of the two weeks when she finally moved in with me full time. 

Adopter - Ruth

I’m writing this exactly 6 months after the day I first met her.  The last 6 months have been simultaneously the most rewarding and the most challenging of my life.  Although the training and assessment process does a really good job of getting you ready for the challenges of parenting an adopted child, I don’t think anything can truly prepare you fully for the daily reality of living with a child with a traumatic history. It can be unbelievably tough to see and experience my daughter’s anger at her situation and the ways in which it impacts on her life (and my life), especially since I know that I can’t provide a ‘quick fix’ for how she is feeling.  There have been moments in the last 6 months when I have come face to face with a situation where (in the moment) I have genuinely had no idea of what to do.  In those situations my social worker has been invaluable in giving advice, encouraging me that I have done the right thing or letting me know that it’s not the end of the word when I haven’t!

Despite these moments, the positives far outweigh the negatives. It has been wonderful to watch my daughter grow in confidence and security over the months.  Another big moment was when we went to the cinema to watch the newest Disney film and she sat in my lap and absolutely sobbed her way through the sad part, despite the fact that she had always done everything she could in the past to not cry in public. 

I have cried more ‘happy tears’ in the last 6 months than most of the rest of my life!
Ruth

Overall, the most rewarding part is having a little girl who calls me ‘Mummy’ and being able to begin to redefine for her what being a Mummy means.  When she first came to live with me she really struggled with calling me Mum or Mummy.  This was understandable, given her history, so it’s something I never pushed. 

There was a moment a few months in when she suddenly switched to calling me Mummy and that moment was absolutely priceless.