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Jennifer is a single lesbian adopter who approached Families that Last as she wanted to adopt a child. After going through our training and assessment, she successfully adopted a 4 year old boy in 2007. Here she answers some questions about her experience of adoption.
What prompted you to adopt?
I heard about ‘Families That Last’ (part of ‘After Adoption’) through a friend and went along to an open evening. I’d just got to a point in life where it seemed like a natural next step. I had turned 40, had a secure home and job and a great network of friends and thought ‘why not?’
Could you talk us through the process?
I went along to an Exploring Adoption event and got a good basic understanding of how it all worked. From there, I was invited to a weekend of training on adoption issues. It was thorough and covered all aspects of adoption. It made me examine my reasons for adoption and relate those things to my experiences.
At the end of that weekend, I decided I wanted to go forward with adoption and started my assessment a couple of weeks later. The social worker from FTL visited every couple of weeks in the evenings and got to know me really well. She went through every conceivable aspect of parenting and adoption with me in that time.
During this period of visits I was completing my own sort of diary and portfolio. This included writing about my values and experiences and building up a list of references including letters from friends and family etc. The Social worker also interviewed friends who had known me a long time (including an ex partner) and my parents.
About seven months after that initial open evening I was passed by an adoption panel and began the process of ‘matching’. That was a hard time – knowing I had more or less completed the process but then trying to find the right child. A few months later I was visited by the social workers of a child I had seen in an adoption publication called ‘Be My Parent’ and a while after that I was ‘matched’ at another panel meeting. I finally started introductions a few months later– meeting my son with his foster carers and then bringing him home to live with me.
Was the process easier or harder than you imagined?
It wasn’t hard, but even though from start to finish my adoption journey was relatively fast it still felt frustratingly slow at times. It took 5 months from being approved to actually meeting my son.
What do friends and family think of your decision?
My friends have been amazing. So many of them have really made an effort to understand why parenting an adopted child can be so different from raising birth children. They have been really intuitive and supportive to both of us. My parents and siblings, nieces and nephews understand the issues and have included my son as part of the family. It would have been almost impossible to make it this far without them.
What advice would you give prospective adopters?
Most adults have a clearly defined idea of what kind of parents they’ll be. With an adopted child it sometimes feels like a lot of that goes out of the window as we have to respond to the needs of the individual child and love them for who they are. This sometimes means clearing the path of all these preconceived ideas about the family we are building; it might not pan out the way we thought it would. The child you adopt will often have a knotted little bundle of business inside that comes out slowly but surely – you have to be prepared to cross the bridges as you meet them and to not give yourself too hard a time for getting it wrong now and again. I can’t imagine not having my son in my life now. It happened at the right time for me and I’d say check it out – talk to people, find out through agencies like Families That Last, do some research and see if it’s for you.