Parent and child reading

Adopter Stories

At  Vale, Valleys and Cardiff we have a long and successful history of matching adoptive parents with children who require placement. 

We have built up a network of proud, adoptive families and many of these families love to share their stories with us. 

Here are just a few our favourites:

  • Owen and Anna's Story: 

    Owen and Anna share their story about adopting their youngest son Iestyn into their family and introducing him to his big brother, Miles (their birth child).

    Sitting around Owen* and Anna’s* large kitchen table, you wouldn’t think anything was out of the ordinary about this family. Miles* their eldest son is at school and Iestyn* their youngest son plays in the background, attempting to make friends with the family cat, toddling after her and giggling. 

    Adoption was always on the radar for Owen and Anna. They had discussed the possibility of adoption even before having their own birth son Miles. A few years after having Miles, Owen and Anna decided that it was time to extend their family. After trying to conceive naturally, they decided that they would like to look at adoption further as a route to extending their family.

    Studies show that Secondary Infertility can affect as many as 1 in 5 couples and for many of these couples Secondary Infertility goes undiagnosed. All options for couples in this position come with their own potential rewards and challenges.

    Owen and Anna contacted Vale, Valley and Cardiff Collaborative and after attending an information evening and the training course, they decided that adoption felt like the right process for them.

    They expressed their interest to become prospective adopters and were assigned a Social Worker. Their Social Worker visited their house every fortnight to go through the application process with them.

    “We found the application process a really positive experience” commented Anna. “We got on well with our assigned Social Worker and felt really supported through the whole process.”

    During the process of the assessment, their birth son Miles was diagnosed with mild Autism. This came as a shock to Anna and Owen. At this point they took some time out to come to an understanding of the diagnosis for themselves and consider if this would affect their decision to adopt. They decided it was something that they could manage. However, the diagnosis had to be taken into account in their assessment especially as at the time the plan was for Miles to share a room with his potential adoptive brother for at least the first few years. 

    Owen and Anna where advised by their Social Worker that they should seek to enlarge their house and add another bedroom to give them a wider scope for potential matches with children and for Miles to have his own space. Owen and Anna decided that this was right for them and took some time out to support Miles and make the relevant changes to their house.

    Finding the right match can take time and at this point there were only a small group of children requiring adoption.

    During the renovations, they stayed in touch with their social worker. Shortly after notifying the social worker that the building work on their house had been completed, Owen and Anna’s Social Worker approached them with a potential match.

    Owen and Anna were excited and nervous but after being shown Iestyn’s profile, they decided to pursue the match.

    “We first met with Iestyn’s* foster carers and the professionals who were working on his case. His foster carers clearly thought a lot of him. From everything that all the people around him said, he seemed to tick all our boxes.”

    “Meeting Iestyn for the first time was nerve-wracking,” commented Owen “We didn’t know him and he didn’t know us. We just didn’t know how it would go. However it was evident from our first meeting that he was a very loving child. That gave us a strong indication that we were meant to be together, as both parties had a lot of love to give.”

    “Upon our first meeting Iestyn was beaming and excited to see us. We and the foster carers believe that he recognised our voice / our appearance from the recording of our voices and the photos of our family that were given to him in a book format a week before. That day will stay with us forever, it simply couldn’t have been better and reinforced our initial hunch that this was going to be a great match.”

    After a few meetings, Anna and Owen brought Miles along to meet Iestyn. The two got along and Owen and Anna decided that the match was right for all of them.

    “Up until that point we had sometimes got frustrated that the process seemed to be taking a long time for us especially with the diagnosis of Mile’s Autism and the building work but Iestyn was worth the wait! We really do feel like he is the perfect child for us. If we had got through the process faster we may never have met him and we can’t imagine life without him!”

    “Miles is really excited to have a younger brother. He genuinely believes he is the reason that Iestyn has come to live with us because he kept asking for a younger brother. When we take him to school, he wants to introduce all his friends to his new brother. Iestyn already really looks up to Miles and they enjoy playing together, having cuddles and being silly together.”

    “Both children seem to have adapted well to the change and really get on. We have used this to our advantage. Both our sons can be fussy eaters but when we praise one and then the other they respond very well and watching each other’s behaviour being praised encourages them both. We believe that it is really important to praise both our children and have already noticed that they respond really well to this.”

    “Iestyn was around one years old when he came to live to us and so had not become verbal yet. We are a tri-lingual family and Iestyn has started to pick up all of these languages and becomes more and more confident in his communication every day. We are really proud of the progress he is making.”

    “We feel blessed having been given the opportunity to become parents for a second time. We feel overwhelmed with love for both our children; our birth child and our adopted child. They have bonded fantastically well and it’s difficult to imagine a time when there were only the three of us.”

    “To people considering adopting when they already have birth children we would say: It’s worth it! So far our experience of welcoming our new family member has gone swimmingly. Careful preparation to lay the foundations for his arrival with our birth son meant no great surprises for him and probably engendered a feeling of engagement in the process. To see our eldest doting on our new youngest is such a heart-warming experience, as is the way that it is reciprocated. It really has been a fantastic match for us all and we wouldn’t hesitate to do it all over again.” 

    *names changed

  •  Nadia and Ryan’s Story

    Nadia and Ryan share their story about adopting siblings.  

    Nadia* and Ryan* adopted Maliah* and Osian* two years ago. The couple had always wanted to be parents but knew from the start of their relationship that they may encounter issues.

    Ryan was successfully treated for testicular cancer as a child, a cancer that affects approximately 2,300 males per year in the UK. He was told that the treatment for the cancer might have an impact on his fertility. After deciding they wanted a family together and after a long wait with the fertility clinic and a series of tests, the couple found out that they wouldn’t be able to conceive children naturally. 

    Adoption was something that Nadia and Ryan had discussed at length over the years and decided that this felt like the right route for them. The couple attended training and undertook their assessment with their social worker.

    During the assessment they discussed the ages and number of children they wanted to consider adopting. Nadia and Ryan decided that they would like to adopt a sibling group of two. “Whilst many people might feel that sibling groups would be more of a challenge, for us, we felt more comfortable knowing that the children would have the connection with each other and hopefully that would make the change easier for them”. Soon after their approval as adopters they were given profiles for two sets of siblings.

    “It was strange that the first thing we received about our children was a paragraph of text. It felt like a real leap of faith to move forward in the process with words alone” commented Ryan. “The first profile we saw was for a different sibling group than the children we have adopted. With that profile we just didn’t feel a connection even though we read text and saw pictures for them. They just didn’t feel like the right children for us and it seemed best to be open with the social workers about this. However, when we saw the profile for Maliah and Osian, even though there weren’t pictures, we felt a connection of some kind; enough that we wanted to explore the match further.”

    “We had to wait a number of weeks before the match was confirmed by our social worker because the children’s social worker was exploring a number of families for Maliah and Osian. Our social worker got in contact a few weeks later and came round to the house with good news and some pictures of the children. We were drawn to their warm smiles and the description of their fun-loving natures. We also got to see a video of the children playing which made the decision feel more real to us.”

    “Even once we had met Maliah and Osian, up until day three of introductions, it all just felt very surreal. However, on day three we took the children to the park for the first time on our own and had a lovely time playing together. We started to feel like a family.”

    “We would like say to any couple going through the matching process that it doesn’t have to feel perfect from day one. It’s a relationship that grows.”

    “The children’s foster carers were great with us. They were older and had their own children and grandchildren so had lots of experience to pass on to us. They taught us how to bath the children and how to get them dressed. They also shared memories with us of their time with the children which was invaluable. We continue to meet up with them every year to keep that connection, Maliah remembers some of her time spent with them and Osian loves to see them.”

    Since moving in together the family has had to adjust to different routines and lifestyles. Some things have been hard and some things have made life more wonderful. Maliah and Osian had early life experiences of neglect and were fed sporadically; therefore they had lots of anxiety around food.

    “We had to make sure that they could see us making food and that food was served on time and at the right temperature to eat.” Remembers Nadia. “A minute too late or if they couldn’t see the food being prepared they would melt-down.”

    “Maliah has some memory of her birth family. One day we were in the car and I (Nadia) gave the children a mini roll each. It wasn’t a special occasion so they were very happy with the fact that they had cake. After eating her cake Maliah suddenly said: “I didn’t always know that I was going get food when I lived with my other mum and dad. Thank-you mummy for always giving me food.” Its simple things like that that break your heart but make you love them all the more.”

    “A happier memory is that before the children came to live with us we just used to say ‘Happy Birthday’ to our family cat. Since the children have lived with us we have told them that we also adopted the cat. They really love her and now make us throw birthday parties for the cat. Just like on the children’s birthdays; we pile into our room, there are balloons and presents and we even sing happy birthday to Mia, the cat with cake and candles. Maliah and Osian bring so much fun and love to our lives that we didn’t even realise we were missing before.”

    “Since becoming a family we have seen a huge improvement in Maliah and Osian’s eating habits and behaviours; it took time, but when we started to see small steps in the right direction it felt great. We are a very social family and have lots of play-dates, cake outings and family times. The children love being active and are excited to go on ‘adventures’ regularly.”

    “Soon after they first came to live with us I took them to a café on my own and on a day-trip to a farm with a friend who also has children.” Remembers Nadia. “Looking back now I realise I was much more confident than I realised. It just felt natural”.

    Nadia and Ryan kept in contact with other couples that they met during the adoption training course with Vale, Valleys and Cardiff. “During the process we kept in touch. It was nice to know there were others going through the same experience and we would regularly catch up. Now we have all adopted we meet up regularly. They have been a great support network and we really value their friendship. One family in particular live near our house and we feel so lucky that our children can grow up knowing lots of other adopted children and that we have friends who know exactly where we are coming from and can offer fantastic support and advice. We also keep in contact with our social worker and the children’s foster family. We also write letters to the Maliah and Osian’s birth parents every year via the letterbox system to let them know how the children are. We want our children to feel connected to their past and feel more comfortable that there are no secrets kept from them that might cause difficulty in the future.”

    “Adopting Maliah and Osian is the biggest but also best decision we have ever made. They bring so much fun, love and joy to our lives and light up the house every day.”

    *names changed

  • Tabitha and Dan’s Story

    Tabitha and Dan share their story about adopting a brother and sister sibling group to start their family. 

    Tabitha* and Dan* were recently granted the adoption order for their adoptive children Mira* and Theo*. An Adoption Order is the legal order which states that the adoptive parents are now the sole and legal parents of the child / children.

    After a series of miscarriages Tabitha and Dan decided it was time to reconsider their options to starting a family. After deciding that IVF didn’t feel like the right route for them they decided to move back to Wales to be close to family and start the adoption process.

    The couple got in contact with Vale, Valley and Cardiff shortly afterwards and attended an information evening where they found out more about the adoption process. They then progressed onto the three day ‘Preparing to Adopt’ course. “Some of the topics that were discussed on the course were emotive” commented Sarah “but that is the reality of modern adoption and we were happy to be prepared for as many outcomes as possible.”

    After attending the course Tabitha and Dan decided that adoption seemed like the right route for them to start a family and so they expressed their interest to start the assessment process.

    “People told us before we entered the process that it was ‘intrusive’ but we honestly didn’t find that. We actually found the weekly sessions with our social worker really informative and helpful. Our social worker made us feel at ease right from the initial visit. We would sit down together and have a cup of tea and a chat. We discussed a different topic every week and we found it really helpful. We learnt new things about each other and were able to really explore topics that we had never discussed in-depth.”

    “After our social worker had written up our Prospective Adopter Report we went to Panel.  We were so pleased to be approved as potential adopters and went on holiday for a week after. Soon after we got back our social worker brought us a profile for a brother and sister sibling group and we felt like this was a match that might be good for us. We had to wait a while to meet them but it was worth the wait. We weren’t really sure what to expect with the introductions and were a mixture of nervous and excited. We met Mira* and Theo* at their foster carers house. We felt that these children were right for us and we decided along with our social worker that we would like them to be placed with us.

    “In the last month we have received our Adoption Order which means that now we are now legally Mira and Theo’s parents. We are so happy to officially be a family. Court was less intimidating than we thought it would be and the judge even let us all try his wig on! Our son loved that.”

     “We feel really lucky that for us the process of adoption has been very smooth for us. We are so happy that our children have adapted to living with us. They have both recently started back at school and have been making great progress and making friends. They are sociable and love the fact that we have lots of family around all the time. Their new grandma especially is very excited about having grandchildren and she loves any opportunity to come round to the house and play with the children. We also have a dog who Mira and Theo get on really well with. We enjoy all putting our wellies on and taking the dog out, rain or shine!”

    “We are so glad that we got the opportunity to adopt Mira and Theo and complete our family!”

    *names changed

  • Paul’s Story

    Paul is a single adopter who adopted 6 year old Noah.

    Paul* is dad to Noah* as a single parent. Paul started thinking about adopting as a single applicant after watching a Channel 4 documentary which highlighted the story of a single adopter. The documentary sparked an interest in Paul and he decided to research if he too could adopt. He got in contact with his local authority in 2009. During March 2016 6% of adopters in Wales were single applicants (CoramBAFF Statistics, 2018).

    “I wasn’t even sure if I could adopt as a single person when I enquired but the documentary had got me thinking about it and I wanted to see if it could be an option for me. I was in my late 40s at the time and I really wanted to be a dad but I hadn’t met someone where our relationship led to having children. I spoke to a social worker at the local authority and they confirmed that I could adopt as a single applicant. After visiting me they decided that it would be good for me to get experience with children who have poor life experiences. They arranged for me to volunteer with Cardiff Social Services. I was assigned a teenager who I took out every week. This was great experience because I got to build a relationship with a teenager who had experienced some of the things that a child placed for adoption might have experienced. I also got to know the teenagers mother and saw some of the struggles that she encountered raising a child on her own in poverty.”

    “Once I had completed my volunteering I was offered the opportunity to go on training with other prospective adopters. I have been on lots of training courses with work over the years but the ‘Preparing to Adopt’ course is one of the best courses I’ve ever been on. The course was really eye-opening and very relevant. I was the only single applicant on the course but everyone was really friendly and I realised that everyone there had the same goal, which was to create or extend their family.”

    “After the course I decided that adoption felt like the right route for me and I made my formal application. At this point I told my family about my plans to adopt and they were fully supportive. My mum enjoys being a grandmother and my sister enjoys being an auntie. Adoption was already in my extended family as my uncle and auntie adopted and another one of my uncles is adopted. I also told the people that I work with that I was adopting. They were really positive and supportive and started to share stories of adoption within their family and friends. It brought me closer to them and I realised that adoption is more common than you first think.”

    “Once the process started I met with my social worker regularly. During the process I started dating someone. I knew it was really important to be open and honest with my social worker and so I told them. My social worker approached their manager about our next steps. I received a letter from the manager informing me that as I was now in a relationship I couldn’t continue and would have to apply as part of a couple in a few years’ time once the relationship was established. This was a complete shock to me. I contacted my social worker and told him that irrespective of my relationship I wanted to adopt as a single person.  After a meeting between myself, my social worker and the manager it was agreed that I could carry on.”

    “I went to panel and was approved as an adopter. To celebrate I went on holiday and on my return my social worker came out to my house to show me some profiles of children. I was instantly drawn to Noah. I can’t really explain it but it just felt right. I met with Noah’s social worker and she was really positive and enthusiastic about Noah and she showed me a video of him playing which made me feel even more drawn to him. I also met Noah’s foster mother who had been his continuous foster carer since he entered care. Again she was really positive about him. Noah was six years old at the time and was counted as an ‘older’ child by the care system. Older children are often harder to place as adoptive parents often come forward for younger children but it felt like the right choice for me.”

    “I remember that first day I met Noah and I now realise how far we have come. That first meeting felt strange but again it also felt like the right thing. The first day that we met we went to a museum and had lunch with his foster carer. In the subsequent weeks I met up with Noah and his foster carers daily and we did lots of activities, visited my house a number of times. After two weeks Noah came to live with me. The first day went well. It wasn’t until the second night that Noah got homesick for his foster carers and mum. I wasn’t sure what to do but I reassured him it was okay and he eventually went to sleep. The next day I spoke to my social worker and he reminded me that this was totally normal and I was doing well. Noah continued to be upset at bedtime for a number of months. He remembers a lot of his life living with his mum and missed her a lot. We speak about her whenever he wants. After a few months passed he started to settle in and rarely gets upset now. We see Noah’s brother at birthdays and Christmas. His brother is in a different adoptive placement with another single parent adopter so we have lots of similar experiences of parenting to share when we meet up. Noah and his brother get on really well. We also write an annual letter to his mum every year.”

    “To anyone interested in adoption I would say ‘Do it’, it’s hard at times and it is really important to have a good network of family and friends who are supportive but it is the best decision I’ve ever made. Adopting Noah has expanded our social circle and I now know so many more people and have tried so many new activities that I never would have if I hadn’t have adopted Noah. It is also really important to have a good and flexible employer especially if you are adopting as a single person. I am now able to work from home and work flexibly which makes all the difference as a single parent.”

    “I love Noah and it is amazing to think how far we have come as a family. He is a teenager now and I am excited to see where the future takes us.”

    *names changed

  •  Rosemary and James’ Story

    Rosemary and James are the very proud parents of two adopted children who were placed with them four years apart, and whom are not birth siblings. Here is their first-hand account of adopting.

    “Not long after meeting each other, we realised, as a couple that we shared all the same hopes and dreams. The main one - to have a family of our own. However, we soon had to face the fact that this wasn’t going to happen naturally and like many couples in our situation, we embarked on a long and emotional journey of fertility tests and treatments; generally with heartbreak at every turn. There came a point when we knew that enough was enough, and reminded ourselves that is was a family we wanted, not a pregnancy.

    Adoption was something we had always discussed over the years, but felt we needed to fully explore other avenues first.  Exploring these options allowed us to put closure on that part of our lives and move on with no regrets, safe in the knowledge we were fully committed to giving a child a home through adoption. 

    I (Rosemary) felt so nervous picking up the phone to make our first contact with Vale, Valleys and Cardiff – but I needn’t have worried. At that time there was a shortage of adopters and lots of children waiting for forever homes. Hearing this after having been through so much was the best feeling. We know this situation isn’t always the case and that the ratio of available adopters to adoptees varies, but until you pick up the phone as I did, you will never know!

    Soon after the call we attended an information evening, had an initial visit and went on adoption training. Although some things were hard to hear, it did secure in our minds that this was the right way forward.  We were then allocated a social worker to take our adoption journey to the next stage. The next 6-8 months of the assessments actually went by very quickly and although we’d heard this stage can be quite intrusive, we genuinely didn’t feel this. In fact, we found the discussions and homework parts very therapeutic.  It allowed us to reflect on the past and appreciate how strong we’d become as a couple. Researching local amenities, thinking about our support networks and getting the confirmation we were ready to become parents in every way, was a really positive experience.

    We were lucky that things generally went very smoothly for us during the assessment process.  The biggest challenge we had was a change of social worker to take us forward after assessments. We weren’t sure how this would work having spent months going through very intimate details of our lives with someone else. However, we were allocated with a very special social worker who quickly got up to speed and with whom we connected with straight away.

    We moved on to be unanimously approved as potential adopters and it was only a matter of weeks before we had a phone call to say there was a possible match. For some, this can take longer, but it is so important to get the right match for everyone, even if it takes time. This stage did raise some anxieties and our heads were full of questions: Will all the social workers involved like us? What if the medical advisor tells us something that we are not prepared for? What if we feel no connection when we see a photo? In hindsight, these were all healthy and normal feelings.

    From here on in our story is a very happy one. We did feel ‘that connection’ the first time we saw our daughters photo, we did get unanimously approved at matching panel and we did love all the preparation and shopping!

    When reflecting on the process as a whole, we’d say that introductions were the most intense part and even though they were very well planned, we encountered a full range of emotions. The anticipation and process itself was pretty exhausting. We needed to be at the foster carer’s home very early and very late and it was a lot to take on board. Despite this, nothing will ever beat the feeling of holding our daughter for the first time – we didn’t want to put her down! Saying goodbye and leaving at the end of each day got harder and harder as the week went by.  It showed the special bond that was quickly forming.

    After she came home, time passed by and we fell in to a blissful bubble of happiness.  We got totally wrapped up in just being parents and dealing with all it brings. By the time the Adoption Order was granted and the Celebration Hearing took place, we had been such a strong family unit for a long time.

    Three years later, we knew it was the right time to grow our family so we set the wheels in motion to apply to adopt for a second time.

    We had a similar application process in terms of assessment requirements and timeframes. Of course, this time it involved the three of us and this did mean we approached considerations in relation to things like life stories, letterbox arrangements and medical histories from a different perspective. It was really important that we also balanced the needs of our daughter in the decisions we made.

    With the support of the same social worker, we were matched with our delightful little boy and we went from three to four. Again, the introductions needed some careful considerations, this time around things like the logistics of nursery runs and our existing bedtime routines. It was actually really beneficial having our daughter so involved throughout and it opened up conversations with her about her own adoption journey and life story.

    The bond between our little ones as new siblings, grew far quicker than we had imagined. Our daughter was bursting with excitement the first time she met him. The preparation and build up to this moment was vital and she was fully involved in it all. She particularly loved recording a message to him on his transition book and was in charge of selecting the photos she’d like to include. Every time we went to a shop, she chose something for him too and we made sure there was a special present for her from him waiting at the foster carer’s home. We talked a lot about the wonderful relationships we had with our siblings and showed her photos of happy childhood memories. We also emphasised how special it was that her friends had so much fun with their siblings.

    It was challenging to try and maintain some quality time with her and this was really hard on us all. We tried as much as possible to do things together, but needing to stick to his routines in the early months to avoid unsettling him, often meant we had to leave places when she was having fun. This was really tough on her but we are lucky that she has a particularly kind nature and is very patient with him. That’s not to say that she doesn’t have her moments, especially when he pulls her hair or throws her toys, but generally she just thinks he is really cute!

    As our children are not birth siblings, this comes with a different set of life stories and letterbox arrangements, which will take some careful thinking about as the years go by. This was a key consideration for us at matching stage. We took the view that we would be honest about their differing circumstances and we always use the phrase “families come together in different ways” so this is already a great platform for us to build on. The truth is there will inevitably be some confused questions around why one is getting something the other isn’t, why we know more about ones birth families than the other etc. We are hopeful that the love they have for each other and the support we will offer, will allow us to acknowledge this and work through it together.

    We have always been keen to support our little ones in any way we can.  We wanted to be open about how we became a family.  To help support our own children, as well as other adoptive families, I am proud to have published a children’s storybook to help explain the adoption process and to acknowledge the wonderful role social workers and foster carers play in bringing families together through adoption. We’re so thankful for the support we received from Vale, Valleys and Cardiff that the book is dedicated to our social worker – she is our real “Family Fairy” and to whom we owe everything.  

    You can find details about “The Family Fairies” in the ‘Read, Watch and Listen’ section of the Vale, Valleys and Cardiff website under ‘Books for Children’ or on social media:

    • *names changed

     

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