Here, some Coram adopters share their wisdom and how their experience of adoption has transformed and enriched their lives.
Sophie, a single adopter with a son, Jordan, has spoken of her awe at Jordan’s capacity to adapt, grow and thrive: “I have been astounded by the resilience that Jordan and many other adopted children have, and their determination to make the best out of life. Their ability to understand what has happened to them and to carry the weight of that as a child is humbling.” Jordan was the first in his birth family to pass his GCSEs and is now training to be a paramedic. For Sophie, being able to give Jordan a strong foundation and meet his emotional needs has meant everything:
“The scale of my love for my son and the security it provides empowers him to live his life. He is his own person, and he believes in himself.”
Rebecca and Andy, who adopted their daughters Ella and Freya when they were three and six, have also spoken of how well their daughters have recovered after a difficult start in life: “Older children will remember more about their previous lives and might struggle with memories of bad times. But the good news is that with love, attention, consistency, and structure, this can be overcome. We always tell the girls, ‘Don’t let your past define your future. You can be who you want to be’ and this has really resonated with them. Our girls are now flourishing both at home and at school.”
Many adopted children will have experienced adversity in their early lives and may need some extra help to recover. Families who adopt through Coram are offered lifelong support for their children and many of them have told us that this help has been invaluable. Ben, who adopted siblings Spencer and Lydia with his partner Adam, said: “Spencer had some problems relating to trauma, and it manifested in different ways over the years. Coram was fantastic – we had psychology, play therapy, stay and play sessions, and he now has regular occupational therapy funded through the adoption gateway, all supported by Coram which we are so grateful for. The support has been absolutely second to none.”
Monica, a single black adopter with two daughters Ella and Maya, also received some post-adoption support from Coram including attending a three month ‘incredible years’ parenting course which helped her to understand “coping mechanisms for dealing with tantrums, concerns around attachment and how to make space for each one of them, recognising they have different wants, needs and desires.” She adds:
“Even though there were some dark times in the early days, the girls bring me so much joy and happiness, bringing the girls into my life was the best thing I’ve ever done, because they absolutely complete me!”
In dealing with the challenges that many adopted children face along the way, one common theme that consistently emerges is the strength and resilience that adopters find within themselves. Rita, a 56-year-old single adopter who lives with her 15-year-old daughter Victoria, spoke of the learning curve after she brought her daughter home and how rising to this challenge has given her more confidence. “I was a health visitor, and I had all these ideas about how to do things and I had to rethink everything I thought I knew. I’ve also had to fight for Victoria, and had to think of really clever and creative ways to get her to cooperate.”
Families often wonder whether they will be able to bond with their child and Louise, who adopted her two-year-old son George during lockdown, wants to reassure parents that the bonding process can take time and that the best piece of advice she had from her friend, who is also an adoptive parent, was ‘don’t worry if you don’t love them straight away’. That allowed Louise to recognise that it takes time to get to know each other and she says: “I struggled to say the word ‘son’ for a while. But your love grows over time and now I couldn’t love anyone more than George. He’s 100% my son.”
Time and again, families tell us that adopting their child is “the best thing” they’ve ever done.
Rita says: “My daughter is so much more than I could ever have hoped for. My expectations have been exceeded a thousand times over. We talk about how she found me, and I found her. We couldn’t imagine a better match. She’s just a really special person. I feel more fulfilled, I know I wouldn’t have felt complete without being a parent, so I am the person I wanted to be.”
All names have been changed