Andi and his husband Darren adopted their daughter, Lucy, not long after she was born. Andi talks through why they made their decision, and what the experience has been like for them.
The right time
Darren and I had been married for three years when we felt it was the right time to start a family. We were aware of the different options available to us, but as we both work in schools and I had previously worked within children’s social care, we were aware of the increasing number of children in the care system. We felt we were able to offer a child a stable loving family, so we chose the adoption route.
Our daughter, Lucy, was only a few months old when we found out that we were a perfect match for her. Although the profile we were sent was only a few lines long due to her young age, we felt there was something special about her.
Lucy was in the care of foster carers who were amazing while we were introduced to her. They let us take a lead in caring for her in their home, under their supervision and guidance.
This was really helpful in getting to know her routines and likes and dislikes.
Unfortunately there was a legal delay which meant there was a six-week wait in Lucy moving to us, therefore our Social Worker, Foster Carer and Local Authority Senior Management agreed that it was in the best interest of Lucy to get to spend as much time with us as possible during this time.
This included opportunities to bring Lucy to our home and get her used to her new surroundings. We also introduced her to our cat Mollie, which actually worked well as they got used to each other very quickly…and are now best mates!
A steep learning curve
Although we both have experience of working with children in a professional capacity and baby sitting for friends with young children, the responsibility and realisation of having your own child to care for was a very steep learning curve.
During our adoption training sessions much of the material is around dealing with trauma and potential issues that may affect the child, often slightly older children, such as past neglect, and not so much about caring for a baby.
Fortunately, we pulled on experiences of friends with young children and the foster carers were a fountain of knowledge and also continue to be a great source of support. We were extremely blessed with such wonderful foster carers to learn from.
The early days
When an adopted child moves in with you, social care recommend that families go into a ‘mini lockdown’ so that attachments start to form between you and the child/ren and that they feel safe and secure in their new home.
As Lucy had spent such a long time with us prior to her moving in with us, attachments came very quick and we felt a bond very early on. For the first few weeks of Lucy living with us, we only introduced her to very immediate family and close friends who would be on our ‘on call list’ should we need emergency childcare.
Once the initial settling in period had been completed and she was no longer considered to be under fostering arrangements, we were then able to widened our support network and ask other friends and family to support.
Life as parents
Life for us is very different as parents but in such a positive way. It has been so rewarding watching her develop and grow into a lovely little girl.
She was welcomed into both sides of the family instantly and is totally adored. She has brought out the best in so many of our family members and friends and nobody has treated her any differently to other children.
Since adopting we have had many opportunities to help other people either going through the adoption process or who are considering adoption as an option, by speaking at events, training sessions and even some media campaigns. We have found it very rewarding being able to provide some peer support which we know first hand how invaluable advice, support, guidance and friendship can be.
I have also been lucky enough to be elected as a Trustee for a Charity who works with LGBT+ adopters and foster carers which has been great to give something back to the community.
The advice we would give to potential adopters is be realistic in terms of what needs you can and cannot meet of a child. It is so important to be 100% open and honest with your social worker and family finders.
We are now going through the process again to adopt a second child and we are even more aware of our limitations as we have Lucy to take into account this time. Therefore that match needs to be absolutely perfect for all of us.
Prospective adopters need to have a solid support network of people who can help out when needed. Meeting up and/or making contact with other adopters is a must.
We have made some great life long friends through adoption and it is heart-warming watching our children play together.
Most of all, make sure you are in a position in your life where you are able to give 100% of your time to the adoption process.
The process can be emotional, intrusive and at times frustrating but once you have been matched with your child and they are home with you, you will realise it is the best thing you have ever done!
Darren and Andi have an Instagram account where you can follow their journey @dadda_n_daddy
New Family Social is a charity for LGBT+ adoptive and foster families. Check out their website.
You can also find advice about adoption at Adoption UK.
TACT is the UK's largest fostering and adoption charity. Visit their website.