Bristol Post Article – Ever thought about adopting?
With more than 2,000 children desperately waiting for a new home, one Bristol family has shared their story about how they adopted their ‘beautiful son’ during National Adoption Week.
Through no fault of their own, nearly 3,000 children in the UK are looking for new families and all of them share one dream – of being adopted.
New figures show almost one in four people have a friend, colleague or neighbour whose life was touched by adoption and this week is National Adoption Week, which aims to highlight the pressing need for adoptive families and the children in need of families.
Many of those children are with foster parents because their own parents are unable to look after them and some come from homes where violence and drugs have robbed them of their childhood.
Simon Hobeck, dad of one from Bristol
My partner and I had been together for many years, had settled down into a friendly community and we both felt ready to start a family.
Adoption was the first choice for us, but we know many people who have come to adoption after unsuccessful attempts to conceive. In any case, we knew that there were plenty of children “out there” just waiting for a loving family. We were ready to offer that.
The process of adoption was very straightforward. We went to several open days held by different adoption agencies to ensure we understood what was involved, and to find an agency with which we felt most comfortable.
Once we had chosen an agency, we attended the standard training course which teaches parenting skills, understanding of child development, and just ensures everyone understands what’s involved, and that it’s about finding families for children – not children for families.
The sessions were a really warm and nurturing environment (We were told it was totally different to the clinical atmospheres of fertility clinics). These sessions are the equivalent of antenatal classes – where you get to meet other families going through the same process, as well as meeting existing adopters who spoke about their journeys.
Along with the training course, we also had the interviews with social workers. Although they felt daunting at the start, they were straightforward, and were clearly intended that we look more critically at our own life experiences and ensure we acknowledge the differences for parenting adopted children and take the best bits inherited from our own parents.
After the training there is a an approval panel, that deems you fit to be parents. It can feel a but unfair when other people pop out children without thought, but again – it’s clearly there to ensure the parents are ready for difference of adoption. Once approved, you can begin looking for children. This starts to get emotionally tough, as it involves looking through profiles of lovely, vulnerable children and then choosing which ones to reject. Sadly you can’t adopt all of them!
We looked at many profiles, and felt quite frustrated when we choose a child but were told it wasn’t possible as we lived to close to the birth family. This was a useful reminder that it’s about finding the best family for the children – not letting us pick from a catalogue.
Our searching was reasonably quick and we found a beautiful boy. We met his social workers, and both sides ensure that the match is suitable and that everyone understood his needs. This led into the matching panel (Yes, another panel! – this time approving the match between the parents and the child). Although this felt very important at the time, it was quickly forgotten as we quickly moved into introductions when you actually get to meet the child. This is far more exciting (and emotionally charged – will they like us? what will the foster parents think? will everyone see we are new at this?).
Introductions are surprisingly short and after only two weeks we became a three person home. It then took another few months before we could apply for the legal adoption order, but the excitement begins as soon as they move in. For us the whole process from initial application to arrival at our home took 11 months. This felt like a good duration to get our affairs in order (stair gates, plug guards, lock on the cupboard under the sink, last exotic holiday for a while, etc).
Two years later and we are very proud parents to a beautiful, bright, talented son, and I always smile when people say how much we look alike. Over that time we have taken advantage of opportunities given to adoptive parents so have a good appreciation of emotional development & behavioural psychology. This has helped us understand our own child and also others. We have built a great network of other adopted families (who knew there were so many in Bristol!) and it really helps when you need to chat.
Reflecting back, I realise that we were lucky with timings and that 11 months is quicker than usual. However many of our friends going through the process just had to wait a little longer and now have families. The initial training and other courses we attended helped us to understand behaviour and development, but they have also given us a much greater empathy towards everyone. We also had much more support available than most parents would receive. Our social worker was an unflappable source of wisdom and experience that was always there when we needed it.
Adoption is not without its challenges – both short term from the process, and longer term from raising children who may have extra needs, but it is rewarding, exciting, and loving. I would definitely recommend it to anyone, and encourage those thinking about it to find out more.