Anna and Jack adopted their daughters Olivia and Emily through Coram in 2013. Here Anna shares the joys and challenges of the family’s adoption journey.
Adoption is something we first started to properly consider after unsuccessful IVF treatment. We’d been seeing a counsellor at that time due to everything we’d been through and they gave us some information to help us if we did decide to pursue that route.
After our initial phone call to Coram we went along to an adoption open evening, and then decided we wanted to go ahead. We started a training course which was really useful and helpful but also challenging at times. Sometimes we’d walk away feeling like ‘we’d never be able to deal with that’ as you were hearing a lot of very difficult information about the children waiting for adoption, their needs and early traumatic experiences.
We were really pleased that the assessment process was not at all intrusive. It was just like having a chat, and our social worker was so professional and respectful, it was like talking to a friend.
This was our groundwork for developing our relationship with our social worker so by the time we were assessed we were very trusting in her and we could have open conversations about what type of children we could manage.
Jack and I knew we wanted to adopt siblings from the start. We had friends who had struggled with being adopted when they were younger and not having anyone they could really relate to. We thought that siblings will always have each other, and would be a great support for one another.
I remember getting the call from our social worker about Olivia and Emily. We were visiting family abroad and our social worker was very positive and excited that these two little girls were absolutely for us.
We were approved to adopt the girls who were 2 ½ and 1 ½ at that time. The training we’d received and ongoing support from our social worker was vital when they came to us from their foster carers. We took on board the advice such as giving them the same food, using the same fabric conditioner and keeping their cots the same. We stuck to a routine and would continually talk to the girls about what we were going to be doing the next day so as they always knew what was happening next. We tried as many things as possible to reassure them.
There were some challenges in those early stages. Olivia would get up each morning, put on her coat and wait by the front door and say she wanted to go, which lasted for about a month. Emily would struggle to get to sleep at night and wouldn’t want to be hugged or calmed down. But gradually there were improvements as the girls continued to settle with us.
Our social worker was always at the end of the phone and always checking in with us. Her wealth of experience was just invaluable.
Our advice to anyone else considering adoption would be to talk to other adopters, get as much information as you can. Understand the process and understand that it can be rocky but that there’ll be great times as well. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you’re in a couple, be open with one another. You have to do some soul-searching with yourself, your partner and your social worker.
It is important to understand the particular challenges around sibling adoption but the rewards are fab. It’s so lovely to see them when they are getting on and supporting one another.
I remember when the girls were small and had just moved in with us, whenever Emily was upset, I would show her Olivia and that would be enough to soothe her. So they definitely turn to each other for support.
Pic: Stock image not of the family