And then there were three . . .
Kim and Andrew became the official parents of their adopted two year old son James in June. We went along to meet them at their home in a village just outside Peterborough to hear their story. (Names have been changed to protect their identity).
It was seven years ago when the couple were in their thirties, that Kim first met Andrew. Two years later they were married and determined to start a family as soon possible.
However, Kim had a condition which meant that the only chance the couple had of conceiving was to follow a course of IVF. When they discovered that they were likely to have a less than 10 per cent chance of succeeding they decided not to proceed and thought about adoption instead.
“Some of our friends had adopted successfully through Peterborough City Council,” Kim recalls. “So we went to an information evening which we found very interesting and enlightening. We knew it was not going to be a straightforward process and we appreciated the difficulties faced by children as well as the problems adopting parents may have to confront too.
“A social worker from the city council came to see us to talk about the practicalities. You have to be prepared to be asked all sorts of questions – about your finance and your own fitness and health which can be difficult.
“We spent the next few months renovating our home and then we received the news that we could go on to a preparation for adoption course in October. This is a four day course.
Andrew continues: “We watched a documentary which was quite hard-hitting and really brought it home to you the reality of the situation some children face. But we were determined because we felt that we really had something to offer a child in a loving and stable environment.
“During the course we took part in role-play exercises which helped us to understand the issues further and we heard from those who had previously adopted a child about their stories.”
After the course, a period of home study continued for the couple with visits from a Peterborough City Council social worker. Kim and Andrew described it as intensive but necessary. They were set homework which included writing their life stories, which they found therapeutic, and compiling a family tree.
Three months later, Kim and Andrew had to go before a panel. They were asked many questions, some quite hard, but at the end they were approved.
“I was so happy that I burst into tears and just wanted to kiss everyone,” Kim laughs. “We then sat back and prepared to wait for what we thought was going to be months before anything happened.
“Then a call came – about four weeks later. Our social worker, who had been absolutely brilliant all the way along and could not have been more helpful and supportive, told us they had a child. He was a boy, 12 months old, whose parents had had problems early on and they were not able to look after him.
“We were told that while he had struggles very early in his life he had been with the same foster carer since he was just a few months old and that he been cared for in a very stable and happy environment.
“We were shown all the reports concerning him, met his doctor and his foster carer. I did not want to see his photo initially in case the process did not go any further, but when I saw his face I fell in love with him then and there. It suddenly became all very real. It was overwhelming.
“We had to get the house ready and we had a health and safety visit. Then we had to go before another panel, to ensure we were a match for Jason. We were asked more questions then we went outside and 10 minutes later they told us it had been agreed.”
Another nervous seven days followed for the final ratification then a call came to say it had all gone through. A week-long introduction process began with Kim and Andrew visiting Jason at his foster carer’s home.
“Our social worker came into the room carrying Jason and put him into my arms and said ‘meet your son’,” Andrew recalls. “He blew me a raspberry and that was it. We just got on the floor and started pushing cars around.”
“It felt incredible, amazing,” Kim joins in. “We met every day for the next week, building up our time with him. Going out for walks, first with his foster carer, who could not have been more helpful, and then on our own.
“One morning we got their early so that we could get him up, give him his breakfast, bath him and get him dressed. The day after that we put him to bed, and eventually towards the end of the week we brought him home for a while.
“On the day we brought him home for good we took gifts for Jason’s foster carer. She was so generous and gave us clothes and toys for him. Everything was packed into little bags – one was with his tiny toothbrush in it.”
That was a year ago and since then it has just been an incredible time for the new family. They gradually introduced Jason to the rest of his new extended family – grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins.
Then in June, they travelled with all their friends, family and their social worker to the court for the official adoption hearing before a judge when Jason legally became their son.
Jason has a life story book so that he will always know of his background and where he came from. In it are photographs of his birth parents, along with photographs of his new family.
Kim and Andrew have letter box contact with his birth family so that they can pass on news. They also send photos to Jason’s foster carer.
“We met up with Jason’s mother, who is not with his father anymore. She said she was pleased that Jason was with us. It was a really good feeling to have her validation,” Kim concludes. “Our life has changed beyond belief and now we look forward to our future – the three of us together.”