Anthony, a 21-year-old university student, grew up in London with his adoptive family. Anthony’s parents had two birth daughters aged 6 and 9 when they adopted him at 20 months, and five years later went on to adopt another son.
Anthony thrived in his family and enjoys close relationships with his parents and siblings:
“In our family, there is no hierarchy between the birth kids and the adopted kids, we’re all one massive family. I remember feeling really loved and appreciated. I’m quite close to my brother, he still lives with my parents. I chat to both of my sisters quite a lot and I try to see them every time I get back from university.”
There was never a time when Anthony didn’t know about his adoption: “My parents collated a Life Story Book with the help of Coram which has some letters from my birth mum and birth gran and pictures, explaining the adoption process and my foster mum.” Anthony credits this with helping him to gain a strong sense of identity and understanding of his past: “I just remember my earliest conversations with my parents about adoption always centred around that book. I never really had an issue around adoption. I think I had a really easy adoption process, my narrative has been so fixed and clear. It’s really important to make sure that adopted children are not ashamed because there is nothing to be ashamed of, it’s a really beautiful thing that my parents chose me.”
Anthony has also kept in contact with his foster mum who took care of him from when he was eight days old up to when he was adopted: “She’s such an unsung hero, she’s been fostering for 35 years and she’s so quiet about it, she’s an absolute queen. I consider her my mum as well. It’s like I have three mums: birth, foster and adoptive.”
With the love and support of his family, Anthony has had the opportunity to excel not only academically, but also in music and he was awarded a bursary to study at a private school. He says: “Since being adopted, I’ve been so lucky to develop my music skills. My parents really supported me, taking me to concerts and practice sessions.” Anthony learned to play the trombone, clarinet and piano, as well as studying music theory up to grade eight. He also received singing training and has performed in some of the country’s most prestigious concert halls including the Barbican, Glyndebourne, and the Royal Albert Hall.
At aged 11, Anthony sang a solo of Amazing Grace at the Royal Albert Hall and met his birth grandmother for the first time: “It was such a weird feeling going out to perform in front of that many people, especially on my own, but it was really special. It was also the first time I met my birth grandmother, and she was so proud of me. My adoptive grandmother came down from Scotland to watch it so there was a whole contingent supporting me.”
Anthony is currently studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Exeter University: “It’s quite a broad subject and that is where my strengths lie. You have to do maths, economics, use excel and write essays. It can be difficult to switch from maths mode to writing an essay mode, you need to be a good at a lot of things.” Anthony hopes to do a masters when he graduates and is considering a career in public policy. He also studied Spanish at A Level and hopes to spend a gap year in Latin America.
Anthony is full of admiration for his parents who are very active in their community and have launched outreach projects: “My parents are amazing. They are just so selfless. Their goals are realised through helping other people, and I find that really inspiring. Their focus on charity and helping other people is something that I have very much internalised”. As a seasoned cross-country runner, Anthony recently took part in the David Groggins Challenge to raise money for Coram: “I fundraised for Coram by running four miles, every four hours, for 48 hours. I wanted to give back to an organisation that gave me the life I – and all other children in care – should’ve had: a life with a loving family that enabled me to fulfil my potential. Fundraising for Coram will help them match more children to their forever family, giving them a foundation for them to thrive.”
For Anthony, having a permanent family is vitally important for children: “As good as foster care is, it means that the child can’t have that specialised bond. A foster carer simply doesn’t have the capacity to put all the unconditional love and support into a child and help them to develop to their full potential. That is why adoption is so important, having that stable family and home environment for a child to develop in. My parents have been so supportive, taking me to competitions and overnight stays. You can’t do that with foster care.”
Anthony feels strongly about encouraging more people to come forward as adopters:
“It’s a really special thing to help a child out of your own love and generosity, especially a child in foster care who really needs a break. It’s a really beautiful thing to do. If you ask my parents, they would say that it’s their pleasure to have looked after me and my brother.”