Hannah & Lucy’s story
“Our journey began in 2012. We wanted to feel included and no different from opposite sex couples. So, we went to a few open evenings with councils that were close to home - but none of them felt quite right.
When we decided to go slightly further afield, we found the adoption team at Blackburn with Darwen. We felt they made a very real and sincere effort to make same sex couples feel welcome and valued. We liked the way their literature listed same sex couples first rather than last. And we never felt that anything was said to just put a tick in the 'equality box'. So we applied and started the training a month later.
The training was one day a week for four weeks and it was tough emotionally. You think you’ve everything figured out in terms of what you want from a family. But your training turns it all on its head and you start thinking about things you never thought you would.
After the training, we decided we definitely wanted to apply with Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. Everyone we met, without exception, was fantastic. They managed all the emotion with a steady, calm and realistic approach. When we started our home assessment, we met our social worker. She was great and seemed to 'get us' from day one, which immediately put us at ease.
The home assessments were very detailed. But our social worker was incredibly supportive and helped us through it. We learnt so much about each other and ourselves. It was then that we started thinking and talking out loud about the ACTUAL possibility we could have a family! It’s not easy to be incredibly honest with yourself, about what you can or can't cope and deal with. But our social worker was fantastic. Words can’t explain how supportive she was. She recognised that as a same sex couple we’re no different to any other couple in many ways. However, she also understood that unfortunately there are always going to be important issues to think about when two mums plan to raise a child.
When we went to the adoption panel to be approved, we were very nervous. And to be honest, it was all a bit of a blur. But they were brilliant and made us feel at ease. Our social worker was a very calming presence too. We were thrilled to be unanimously approved. The feeling was amazing - we were going to have a family!
A few weeks later our social worker came to see us and gave us the best news in the world. They had a child they thought would be a perfect match for us. You could have knocked us over with a feather! A few weeks later we met our child's social worker who was great and everyone worked so hard to make the process as quick as possible. In just a few months, everything was sorted and we eventually met our child. Wow! Time stops. Everything was complete. This was all that mattered. We owe so, so much to the adoption team at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. We’ll forever be in their debt. They gave us the best gift in the world. At every stage of our journey we never had any doubt that the team was working 100% for us and the kids in their care.”
At every stage of our journey we never had any doubt that the team was working 100% for us and the kids in their care.
Mandy & Steven’s story
“We always wanted to be parents, but despite trying different fertility treatments, we couldn’t have children of our own. As we’d just turned thirty, we felt we couldn’t wait any longer, so we decided to look into adoption and create the family we so desperately wanted. It was the best decision we’ve ever made.
There are a lot of misconceptions about the process. So, go into it with an open mind. We found it to be a very positive experience and much quicker than we first thought. Within twelve months, we welcomed James into our home and family. He was only nine months old, so it’s been wonderful to watch him grow up and enjoy so many memorable moments together.
When the time was right to extend our family, we once again went to the adoption team at Blackburn with Darwen. And in no time at all we had little Jessica in our arms.
There are lots of children who need a loving home. And it’s made such a big difference to our lives too. The team at Blackburn with Darwen Council is fantastic. You won’t feel under any pressure. And they will take the time to make sure adoption is right for you.
As well as being mum to James who is now aged nine and Jessica who is seven, I work for the charity After Adoption. And everyone in the family is so excited, as we’ve been given the go-ahead to launch a retreat for adoptive families later this year. We’re really looking forward to it and can’t wait to get cracking with the B&B in Blackburn. It will be somewhere new adoptive families can come to unwind, relax and bond during their first crucial months together. We may even see you there!
If you live in or around Blackburn with Darwen and want to create a family - you can adopt. So, talk to the friendly team at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. It could transform your life forever.”
The team at Blackburn with Darwen Council is fantastic. You won’t feel under any pressure. And they will take the time to make sure adoption is right for you.
‘As a single mum, I wanted my daughter to have a sibling’
As a single parent, Beverley Hodkinson, 43, a nurse from Blackburn, Lancashire, looked to adoption to give her daughter a much longed-for sister.It had never been my intention to have an only child, but when my daughter Shelby was two, her dad left and with him my dreams of having a large family. He still had contact, but I was effectively a single mum. I kept hoping I’d meet someone else and be able to have more children naturally, but by the time Shelby was eight, it still hadn’t happened. I realised that being single needn’t be a barrier to me having another child. I actually wanted a child more than I wanted a partner, so I turned to adoption. Shelby was excited by the idea, and although I didn’t care about the gender, she was adamant that she wanted a little sister.
I respected her decision, and that made her feel part of the process. I did worry about how she would cope – she’d had me to herself for so long that she’d become used to my undivided attention.
I fell for Toni when I saw her photo. She was 15 months old and looked like a mischievous chimpanzee, so cute and full of life. The social workers teach you to be cautious with your emotions, but instinct kicked in. I couldn’t wait to bring her home.
The process took two years from our initial application to adopt through Blackburn with Darwen Council (letsadopt.co.uk), but Toni finally moved in with us aged 23 months in 2006. She has ADHD due to foetal alcohol syndrome (her mother, with whom she has no contact, drank while pregnant), but she lives in the moment and settled right in. There were a few teething problems – if she didn’t get her own way she would hold her breath, sometimes until she passed out, or make herself vomit.Instinct kicked in and I couldn’t wait to bring Toni home
On one occasion in the supermarket, Toni stuck her fingers down her throat and was sick on herself because she wanted to get out of the trolley. We got some very strange looks! After the first four weeks, she learned that this behaviour didn’t get a reaction from me, so it stopped. I’m not going to pretend Shelby didn’t get jealous on occasion, she did, but I started letting her stay up after Toni had gone to bed so that we could spend time together. Even now at 16 she still appreciates mum and daughter time, so we go shopping or have spa treatments together sometimes.
The girls are different in every way. Shelby, with her blonde hair and blue eyes, is a mini me, while Toni has dark hair, but people don’t automatically assume she’s adopted. While Shelby loves girlie things such as ballet and getting dressed up, Toni, who is now eight, is into kick boxing and wouldn’t care if you dressed her in a bin bag. When Shelby was little she would sit quietly and draw, whereas Toni has so much energy she’s like a wild animal!
Everyone loves her because she’s such a happy person. The girls have a love/hate relationship, probably to do with their ages. Shelby likes her privacy, but Toni is always going into her room and pinching her jewellery. I take them on days out to Blackpool at weekends, where they’ll whiz along the front together on their scooters.
Children know which buttons to press, and when she was little and not getting her own way, Shelby would say, ‘I’m going to live with my dad.’ So a couple of years ago, when Toni was in a mood and shouted, ‘I’m going to find another family to live with,’ I replied, ‘Good luck with that.’ I waited until she’d calmed down, then reassured her that I’ll love her for ever and she’s not getting rid of me. I know children use whatever ammunition they can.
People imagine it must be difficult to love an adopted child like you love your own flesh and blood, but I’ve never found that to be an issue. There is a difference in the way I treat them, because they’re very different people, but there’s no difference in how I feel about them. I love them equally and they get on my nerves equally!
Sharon & Tony's story
We both met each at the age of 16years old, got engaged at the age of 21 years old and married at the age of 27 years old. We had always planned to have a family but nature wasn't really on our side. At the age of 23 I was diagnosed with ovarian tumours and had to have surgery for their removal. This led to decisions whether we wanted to pursue IVF treatment using egg donation and my husbands sperm. It was not an easy decision but it felt at the time that it was our only chance of having a family. We were over the moon when I fell pregnant following our first cycle of IVF but 3 weeks later I was admitted for surgery due to an ectopic pregnancy.
We were devastated but fought the hurdles, emotional rollercoasters and pain over the next 4 cycles of IVF which unfortunately did not work. We decided enough was enough. My husband had always spoke about adoption but until now I hadn't felt the same. Over time, my feelings changed and we spoke more and more until we decided to attend an information evening about adoption. It was our first step in a long journey, but a step that would change our lives forever.
Following the information evening, we rang Blackburn and Darwen adoption team requesting further information. The man we spoke to was really keen to help us and gave us lots of advice as well as a date to see us in our home. We were excited to continue the adoption process and was assigned our own social worker. We learned so much about each other over the coming months as we were assessed about all aspects of our lives by the social worker with several home visits, even though we thought we knew everything about each other after 16 years together!
It helped that the social worker was really easy to talk to and understood my husbands sense of humour! He was really supportive and made a difficult, emotive process easy to complete. We was accepted by the adoption panel as prospective adopters for a child up to the age of 2 years old which is what we had agreed. It was less than 2 months later when we received a phone call from our social worker to say he had a profile of a 16 month old little girl which he felt we would be interested in. After reading her profile, accepting and being matched to her at the adoption panel, the day had come to meet our daughter.
It was a day we will both never forget, and it couldn't have been more emotional than if we had been giving birth to her in the delivery room. Our bond was instant and it has been ever since. We visited her every day during the introductory visits at the foster carers for 10 days, with her visiting our home too. We brought her home after 10 days and it was like she had always been with us. She settled from the first day and we were also visited by her own social worker a few times until after she was formally adopted by us through the courts. We continued to thrive as a family unit and we loved every minute of being parents.
It was 2 Years later and as we had always wanted to have 2 children we decided that it was time to extend our family. We called Blackburn with Darwen adoption team and was again greeted with a warm welcome. As we had been through the adoption process before, we was assigned the same social worker as previous which made it so much easier as we already had a great relationship with him and he knew all about us. This time, our daughter was part of the process and the assessment focused on her needs. Fantastically, we were once again accepted as adoptive parents at adoption panel and awaited the phone call to say we had been matched to a little 18 month old boy.
We felt our whole birthdays and Christmas' had come at once. our daughter was so excited to be getting a little brother, and as we had spoken to her regarding her own adoption, we felt it also helped her make more understanding of it all. Again, we followed the same process as our daughter, Meeting our son for the first time was again emotional and mixed with tears of happiness. We brought him home after 10 days and again he settled into our family from the first day. Looking in the back of the car on our journey home it was evident our children were meant to be together as they both held each others hand sat in their car seats.
It was remarkable that both our children had the same social worker and so once again, it was great to have the continuity but we know that we have been very lucky and not many families will have this luxury. The day we formally adopted him at court was a day we all went to bed and sighed a big sigh of relief that we had our family forever.
My husband says the family is complete now, but i say, never say never.....ha ha ha
Michelle & Kevin's story
We always knew we wanted to be parents but for me, having a new born baby was not on my wish list! Although I would say I have a strong nurturing instinct, babies have never been my thing and thankfully my husband shared my belief that we could become a family through adoption. As such, we were quite the opposite to most prospective adoptive parents and knew from the offset that we wanted a child around the age of four.
Following initial enquiries with Let’s Adopt and progressing through the approval process, we went along to an ‘activity day’, which is an event that gives potential adopters a chance to meet children in an informal setting.
While this sort of event gives people like us the opportunity to meet and get to know the children, it also gives the youngsters a way to meet others in a similar situation and enjoy a really fun day out. From the minute we met Jack*, we loved his engaging personality and energy and my husband, who had actually been very sceptical of the event to begin with, was bowled over by the strong connection he felt with Jack.
The fact that he was an older child (albeit only four years old!) meant that he already had his own personality and opinions, which meant that it was easier to determine the ‘fit’ with us, our extended family and our lifestyle. We had lots in common for example – a love of the outdoors, craft activities and playing dress-up! It also meant that he was aware of his ‘story’, which we continue to add more age appropriate details to as he gets older and, therefore, he already knows he’s adopted.
Being a parent, biological or otherwise, is a tough job whichever way you look at it, but the support and advice we received after bringing Jack into our family was fantastic. We were given a phenomenal amount of encouragement and guidance from the Let’s Adopt team and his foster carers and never felt like we were out there on our own. In fact, we still maintain links with the adoption team, while his foster carers have become firm family friends and remain a part of Jack’s story and life.
While many people will want to adopt a baby who is as young as possible, giving a loving home to a child who is a little older is extremely rewarding. Our shared parental leave consisted of imaginative adventures with our little buddy, where firm family attachments and memories were made that he is able to recall, rather than losing ourselves in night-time feeds and dirty nappies! All jokes aside though, it was a challenge to suddenly have a walking, talking little person to look after – but we loved getting to know Jack and introducing him to the wider family and our friends. He certainly made his mark straightaway!
Our advice to anyone considering adoption is to put some thought to offering a forever family to children over the age of four. They’re often referred to as ‘older’, but they’re still growing up and hitting different milestones…we may have missed out on his first words and steps, but we’ve been there to see his first forward roll, learning to read and losing his first tooth. It’s the most amazing experience to be part of that growth.
We always knew we wanted to be parents but for me, having a new born baby was not on my wish list!
Growing up, all I ever wanted was a family of my own. Even as a little girl I always dreamed of having a big family with lots of children, so when my partner and I decided on adoption, it felt completely natural to adopt siblings.
We met our two beautiful children back in April 2004 when our little girl was seven and our little boy was three. I’ll always remember the first time we saw them and the overwhelming feeling of joy as we drove up to the foster carers’ house. They were sat in the window waiting for their new mummy and daddy – they started calling us this from day one, which was music to our ears. It all seemed to happen so fast and, after two weeks, our perfect family was a reality.
We then adopted their biological baby brother later down the line, completing our family unit. He was very poorly in his early life and we couldn’t see him until he was well but, at eight months old, we met him face to face. All of the things that some mothers might take for granted, like bottle-feeding, changing nappies and sleepless nights, felt like a gift.
Of course, adoption isn’t a matter to be taken lightly and there are many factors to take into account when considering giving one child a forever home, let alone two or three. Neglect in a child’s early life can have a huge impact on the way that they grow, learn and develop, and our adoption hasn’t been without its challenges. Let’s Adopt has been a huge support to our family in overcoming these challenges and they certainly made the difficulties along the way seem a little lighter.
It’s been 13 years since we took the step to adopt siblings and, challenges aside, we are a complete and happy family – one full of love, friendship, commitment and support.
Above all else, adoption is one of the most rewarding experiences in the world and it has allowed us to not only be parents to three beautiful children, but has enabled them to grow up together – as it should be.
Growing up, all I ever wanted was a family of my own.
For me, becoming a mother has been one of the most rewarding yet challenging experiences. As a single parent, I’m both ‘mummy’ and ‘daddy’ to my daughter and, while it’s certainly full-on and tiring at times, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I adopted Amy* in August 2015 and knew from the moment we met that she was my child. I was advised by my social worker that she was at risk of foetal alcohol syndrome, which comes as a result of a woman drinking during pregnancy. The alcohol in the mother’s blood passes to her baby through the placenta, which can damage cells in their brain, spinal cord and other parts of their body, while their development in the womb can also be affected.
Due to Amy’s condition not being apparent straightaway, it was difficult to know the severity of her symptoms at such a young age; however, this certainly didn’t deter me from wanting to give her a loving home.
As she developed, it became clear that Amy had significant sensory issues and could become fairly aggressive in situations that may not bother other children as much. While this is challenging and I was thrown in at the deep end, so to speak, I’ve learnt the triggers that can upset her and what coping strategies to implement.
Amy’s early diagnosis played a vital role in being able to deal with her condition and the support I get from Let’s Adopt is absolutely phenomenal. Whether it’s an informal chat with our social worker or behaviour management advice from the child psychologist, I’ve never once felt alone, despite living in a different area.
When it comes to being a parent, biological or adoptive, there’s no ‘handbook’ and there’s a lot of ‘on-the-job’ learning! Of course, adopting a child with additional health needs isn’t right for everyone and it comes with its challenges, but the reward and appreciation from your little one is more than worth it. I’d advise anyone thinking of adoption to find out more about giving a forever family to a child with additional needs and the post-adoption support that’s available.
For me, becoming a mother has been one of the most rewarding yet challenging experiences.