It’s not very often I get asked this question, but it does happen from time to time. Why did I adopt? What made me decide that this was what I wanted to do?
That’s hard to quantify, because I can’t remember the exact moment. Perhaps that’s normal; perhaps there are other parents out there who are like me and cannot recall the first moment where they said to themselves, “I want to have a child.”
During my twenties, I’d not given any thought to the possibility of becoming a father, except to say, “I’m quite happy being childless.” That thought persisted for years … until one day, in my very early thirties, when it didn’t any more. I changed my mind; I wanted to become a parent, but how good a parent would I be? And how would I become a parent in the first place? Could I buy one for 50p from a shop down the road?
All these questions and more raced through my head as I tried to decide whether this change of heart was a momentary aberration or something more permanent. I figured that people had momentary wobbles on a whole host of things throughout their life, so wouldn’t this be any different?
I don’t know, but it was. The thought never went away, and continued to bury itself further and further inside my brain. It was a constant nag and a constant, ever-increasing yearning; to become a dad and cherish a child’s life so that they could love life to the full.
It seem … churlish, almost to want that after my previous vocal nature in the opposite direction. However, it was what it was, and it became almost an instinct – a drive, a passion – .that I couldn’t quell. It bubbled and percolated in the back of my mind before I felt ready to vocalise it. Actually, that’s not entirely right; I didn’t feel entirely ready to vocalise it, but I made myself do it anyway.
Why? Because it was necessary. If I hadn’t, I would just regret not saying anything about it to anyone, and that would leave me at precisely the same point in my life; childless. I felt oddly anxious about revealing this change of heart, but if I was going to do anything about it, then I would need to speak my thoughts aloud.
I told my parents first, who were understandably surprised, but they came around to the idea after a while. They needed time to digest this news, and I let them consider it in their own way; undoubtedly by talking about it between themselves and just digesting this new piece of information.
I also told a few close friends who I hoped would continue to remain in my close circle of allies and friends after my child came home. They were all interested in my decision and allowed me the space to discuss everything as things moved along. My “inner circle”, if you can call it that, has changed over time – an inevitable part of life, perhaps, especially when we all adjust to my changed priorities with my son at the centre.
But after those initial conversations, I was sufficiently buoyed to move forward with it. I originally considered the council where I lived; friends had worked with them on their adoptions – I would have dreaded working with their social worker – but they weren’t accepting prospective adopters right then, as the flow of children coming out of the care system into adoption had slowed in our area at the time.
I looked further afield at that point and decided to go to an independent agency, one with a national reach that could therefore give me a wider breadth of opportunities. It was an easy decision to make, and Barnardos became my agency of choice.
I’ve talked about the application process in depth through these blogs, but I actually went through it twice. I nearly got to the end on the first occasion – I went through all the reports and analysis and reference checks and … well, you get the picture. But then, shortly before the end of that journey, I lost my job. I was no longer financially independent to the same degree I had been since the age of eighteen, and I ended up moving back home with my mum and dad for a year.
I was gutted, not because I’d got somewhere safe to return to whilst I regrouped, but because my plans to adopt were put on hold. It hurt, I don’t mind telling you, especially when I had to wait over a year to be able to move out again and restart the process. There was nothing I wanted more, and when I was in my own home again, I was able to kick-start my plans again – albeit from scratch.
Would I have been able to adopt my son had I gone through the process the first time, back in 2016? Probably not – I might not have even seen his details then, and I certainly hadn’t learnt as much about my own abilities as a potential parent. I’m still not perfect, that much is certain, but I became better at knowing I wasn’t perfect.
Moving into my own home again and a year of staying back with my parents was liberating – for them as well as for me – and I was able to restart something that had become a major dream.
And then … well, you know the rest.