National Adoption Week - A Harrogate woman speaks about what it’s really like to adopt a child
This week marks National Adoption Week (October 12 - 16) and to mark the occasion, community reporter Louise Perrin has spoken to a Harrogate couple who adopted not one, but two children.
Anna and husband John (names have been changed), adopted their son David when he was just three and a half years old.
After a long journey to be approved and find a match, the couple were matched with David who had been taken into foster care with his older brother.
Anna said “At some point the decision was made to separate the two older brothers. I can only think this was because someone thought each child deserved the love of a parent of their own.”
“We originally said that we would like to adopt a child aged 0-3, we were not overly bothered about having a baby.
“When we were told about David, he was actually a couple of months older than that, but there was something about his profile that attracted us, something that just felt right
And how did the first meeting go? “Really well,” said Anna, laughing: “ he was fast asleep the first time we met him.
“He was told that he was meeting his new mum and dad. We had done an intro book and DVD with a virtual tour of the house.
“The first shot showed me putting some biscuits in the oven, Then I showed him round the house and when I got back to the kitchen the biscuits were ready.”
The book and DVD were delivered with the biscuits and a soft toy that Anna had slept with so he would be familiar with her scent.
The first meeting was meant to last 30 minutes, it was three hours before the couple left.
Anna and John decided to adopt David and a little later his older brother also found a home.
Anna said: “David came in March and for six months before he started school it was just us. We baked bread and stuff, drew pictures and walked and that made such a difference.
“It means that we’re close now, but he’ll still push me sometimes, still test to see if I’m still there.
“We just have to accept that that’s how he is, that he needs constant reassurance.”
The two brothers are now friends on What’s App and played online together during lockdown. They also meet up on the first Saturday of each month.
The anxiety caused when David was separated from his brother meant that he needed therapy. When Anna and John applied to adopt a second child, they felt that this counted against them and a suitable child was not found.
"Five months later, Alice came home.”
What would Anna tell people thinking of adopting? “It’s a journey and it never stops being a journey, it’s a learning curve.
“There are a lot of things I wish we’d known. Looking back it was obvious they were going to need support, and it’s taken seven years to get the right support in place.
“Make sure you look at what is there to help you.”
The number of people looking to adopt has increased since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, however there is still a shortage of adopters for sibling groups, older children and those with health needs.
Suzie Grove, head of One Adoption North and Humber, said: “We are putting a special call-out for people who feel they can offer a loving, stable, permanent home to children who wait longer.
“We encourage applications from people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures and faiths. Nationally, black children are disproportionately over-represented in our care system and black children are also less likely to go on to be adopted and wait longer to find their adoptive families, with boys of black African origin waiting the longest.
“You don’t have to be married to adopt, we have some excellent single adopters, and we have approved lots of adopters from the LGBTQ+ community.
“Gender, relationship status, ethnicity, age or religion don’t matter, if you can love and care for a child, you can adopt.
“People who are concerned that they may not get the support they need once they adopt can also be reassured. Parents are supported throughout the whole process by highly experienced, dedicated adoption support teams.
“There is a comprehensive programme of pre- and post-adoption training and support, much of which is being provided virtually at the current time.”
People who are interested in finding out more about adoption can call One Adoption North and Humber on 0345 305 2576 or visit www.oneadoption.co.uk.