Dan had a great reason for running the London Marathon
I decided to run the London Marathon for After Adoption because adopting three children has enriched all our lives in ways I could not have imagined. Anything I can do to encourage others to adopt is worthwhile; at the same time, anything I can raise to help fund the support offered by After Adoption to families and adopted children will be a bonus.
Our first adoption, of our eldest daughter Lejla, came about in unusual circumstances. My wife Sian and I were working as a freelance TV news team in Sarajevo, Bosnia, during the war in 1992. We had reported on many desperately sad stories of the impact of the war on children: filming them being bussed out of the city; or surviving hungry and cold in bombed out buildings; or killed by indiscriminate shelling from the hills that surround the city.
At Christmas time 1992, for Sky News we covered the story of a baby born on Christmas Day, rejected by her birth mother who had been held and brutally abused in the rape camps set up during the ethnic cleansing that was a most dreadful part of that dreadful war. Christmas baby, a mother who would not even touch the baby she had born – at first, just a story to be covered professionally. But a few days later, knowing we would leave soon, Sian and I woke up and simultaneously spoke the words “We can’t leave that baby here…” We had already filmed in the orphanage where the carers were burning furniture to keep the children warm. We had enough contacts at the highest level in the Bosnian government to make an official approach to take the baby out. We also had contacts on the other side of the front lines to be able to arrange safe passage.
There is much more to that story, but the outcome is what matters: three days later, we brought Lejla – the name we gave her in honour of a brave friend – out of Sarajevo in our armoured car and drove her to our home in Ljubljana, Slovenia. We then began the process of normalising her status. That took two-and-half years and a High Court hearing, but in the end everything was settled. Lejla is now 22 years-old and just finished university, intending to make a career in international development. She is also campaigning on behalf of women abused in conflict and she worked for the Foreign Office as part of the Global Summit on Ending Sexual Violence in the summer of 2014.
When, a few years later, Sian and I began to think about having more children, and given the choice between IVF or adoption, we knew that because we had been through adoption, with its bureaucracy and challenges, that would be the route we should take. Rather closer to home – East London, rather than Eastern Europe – we were accepted as adoptive parents for twins who had been in care for many months. This time we received a bit more training and preparation than on the previous occasion!
Henry and Alexandra have filled our home with laughter, love, music, random art works – and yes, teenage angst and louder music – since just before their second birthday. Watching their relationships developing with each other and with Lejla has been just one part of the intense joy we have experienced as adoptive parents.
Sian and I met running the Cardiff Marathon 34 years ago and married a year later. I ran the London Marathon on my 60th birthday five years ago. So it was too tempting – I had to run it this time, the day after my 65th. I hope that I can raise a good amount for After Adoption, whose work creating homes like ours is so inspiring and essential in these days and for years to come.
Run the London Marathon yourself
After Adoption has guaranteed places in the London Marathon. If you are confident you can train to tackle the 25.2 miles, and raise our minimum sponsorship of £2,000, then apply today for a place!
Full information and application form can be found here.