Lucy and Oliver
Lucy was keen to adopt after no success having a family naturally and following four rounds of IVF. However, her husband Oliver wasn’t so sure. But in time, as he found out more, he changed his mind – and the couple ended up adopting two girls!
Me and my husband Oliver always knew we wanted a family. But we married aged 39, so we knew time wasn’t on our side. So we decided to take the IVF pathway. We underwent four cycles, but they were unsuccessful.
We had a lot of discussions, as we both still wanted a family. I was eager to investigate adoption. But Oliver was not. He couldn’t get his head around having a child that wasn’t biologically related to us. I persuaded him to go along to an adoption information evening with me. I can laugh about it now but he just sat there! I didn’t feel like I could say anything in the car on the way home, as I could tell by his expression how he felt. He was still totally against it.
But then we started talking again. And six months later, he agreed that we would look into it again and we went on to make a formal application to adopt. We attended a preparation group – a three-day course where they tell you all you need to know about adoption, including the backgrounds of some of the children and some of the worst possible scenarios! If you’re going to be put off, that course will do it – and I think that’s a good thing. But we weren’t put off. However, we were encouraged to carefully consider which children we would be most suitable for and really think about what we could realistically take on. We knew that we would like two children, under two, but we didn’t mind if they were boys or girls, or if they were birth siblings.
As part of the assessment we had a medical check, a financial check, and then had to go away and do a lot of homework, such as putting together family tree and detailing our support network. And we had to give an incredibly detailed account of our lives – where we’d lived, who we’d lived with, and what we’d done. The homework and meetings with social workers were intense, but we totally understood how important they were.
Eight months after starting the process we were delighted to officially be approved to adopt, and were soon shown a profile of a baby girl needing a forever family. When we read all about her, we felt that she was just right for us. Then the matching panel had to decide if we were right for her, and luckily they decided that we were! She became our daughter.
We were first introduced to her at her foster carer’s house: I remember we didn’t both go in to the room at once so as not to overwhelm her with two new faces. I went first - she was trying to walk, holding on to the settee. I chatted with the foster carer in a relaxed manner; it was like we were long-standing friends, so no alarm bells rang for our daughter. Oliver crept in a little later and joined in the chat. It was very surreal to think the little girl tottering around would soon be ours forever and we were her new mummy and daddy.
The introductions lasted one week. Day-by-day, we increased the amount of time we spent together, learning daily routines, such as what happens at meal times, bath time and bed time. She also spent time at our house so she could see her new home and build trust; initially with the foster carer and then without her at the end of the week.
The planned gradual introductions were essential for getting to know both of us. The hours we spent together were amazing and each day we didn’t want to say good-bye, even though we knew we would see her again tomorrow. Finally, the day came when we popped her in the car and brought her home for good. I think we were both surprised at how right and normal it felt to have her with us.
After being a family of three for 18 months, we felt we were ready for our second child. The general rule if you are adopting two children on separate occasions is that the second must be younger than the first and that you should wait at least two years. So we had to wait some months, and then expressed our wish to be a family of four and started the process again, which is shorter second time round.
The difference this time was that we had to prepare our oldest daughter for her new sibling. We showed her pictures and talked about it in an age-appropriate way, so she was ready when we brought her new sister home – just as you would if you were birth parents.
The two girls are absolutely wonderful. We both dote on them. We all love outdoor activities like gardening, walking and cycling, and like most parents of girls, we’ve become very familiar with the Frozen films! Our youngest has named herself Anna, our oldest is Elsa, Oliver is Kristoff and apparently I’m Olaf the snowman! It is magical seeing their imaginations run so wild.
We don't deny the fact that the ultimate number of steps to adoption felt like a marathon. But when we look at our family, we feel so proud and honoured to have our two amazing resilient daughters. Seeing Oliver with the girls, in particular, has been incredible. He’s a wonderful dad, very hands-on and totally smitten. If we had followed his gut instinct, our journey would have ended after a couple of steps. I can't thank him enough – and he most certainly thanks himself too! – for being open-minded enough to take additional steps and find out more.
Lucy and Oliver are this couple’s chosen pseudonyms, and they would prefer us not to name the children or give specifics as the birth family live nearby. Dates have been left deliberately vague to avoid identification.
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All adopted children are different and over time they will learn to trust you and it will transform their lives – as well as yours!