Parents who have adopted sets of siblings and children with disabilities have urged others to come forward and change the lives of youngsters who wait longer to find a forever family.
With National Adoption Week in full swing, two families told of the rewards that adopting their children has brought them.
Sarah*, a single mum-of-one, adopted a two-year-old Surrey boy seven months ago. He has global developmental delay, poor sight and is unable to walk or talk. Sarah, who lives outside the county, met her son at an activity day where children waiting to be adopted can meet prospective families.
She said: “I met my son at an activity day for children with complex needs. He had been looking for his forever family for 18 months and had had very little interest. As soon as I met him I knew he was my son and he really is the perfect match for my family. At the beginning of the activity day we were given a booklet which included a photo of each child and some information. As soon as I came to my son’s page I looked at my mother and we both said his name at the same time. My son was lying in the ball pool and it was lovely to be able to play with him. The day went so fast and we left so very excited about the boy we had only just met yet seemed like the child I’d been searching for.
“My boy has a cheeky personality and the most amazing smile in the world. He also has the ability to make people melt when they meet him and he’s like a mini celebrity in our local area as everyone wants to know how he is doing. He is loved so much by myself and my other son too. They were just meant to be brothers; my older son gives my little one a voice and in return he receives unconditional love.
“My son is loved by the whole family and we can’t remember what life was like before he came home though I’m sure it was quieter and I watched more telly. He has made us all very happy. Children with disabilities are children first – their disability doesn’t define them. Look at the child’s personality and abilities, celebrate tiny achievements however small and just enjoy life.”
Surrey-based Jane and Richard* adopted three children aged five and under 18 months ago.
Jane said: “We knew that sibling groups are harder to place and we knew we could offer a home to a child or children who might be overlooked by others. We weren’t expecting three and especially not in one go. We saw our children on the Surrey County Council website. My husband showed me a video of them and said ‘I think we’ve found our children’ and that was that. I think from then on it was a done deal for us. Meeting the children for the first time was like falling in love – knowing you’ve jumped in with both feet, but we didn’t know if they’d be placed with us, and we didn’t know if they’d want us, of if we’d be good enough. It was a mixture of euphoria and fear.
“Our children are amazing. They are very giving, and we are not the only ones to have fallen in love with them – our family, friends, teachers, bus drivers, waitresses – in fact, anyone they meet.
“They’ve settled extremely well and better than we could have ever expected. We are particularly proud of the fact they have progressed so well and so quickly at school, not just because we want them to do well academically but because it’s such a good indication that they are relaxed and happy enough in all aspects of their lives now to be open to learn. Our youngest very quickly showed that he had settled, as he almost immediately began to overcome his speech delay.
“If you’re determined, and go in with your eyes and minds open, you can do it. With a sibling group, you will have to work harder, but the more of them there are, the more you’ll have to love, and the more love you’ll get back. Our children just happened to come in a package of three. It’s been tough, and it’s been emotional, but we know that our family is complete now, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Clare Curran, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families Wellbeing, said: “We are always looking for people who can provide a loving home to a child who needs one and particularly want to hear from those who are open to adopting a child with disabilities, a set of siblings or a child who is over four years old. We offer excellent support and training, but more than that we offer would-be adopters the opportunity to transform a child’s life with a stable home.”
To find out more about adoption in Surrey, call 0800 096 96 26 or visit surreycc.gov.uk/adoption.
*Names have been changed