Hannah and Claire have just adopted three children aged five, four and two. The family live in the East Midlands. This is their story.
“Claire and I got to a point in our lives where we felt ready for children. Once we’d made that decision, adopting our children happened far quicker than we anticipated. We put that down to the support and positive experience we’ve had with Barnardo’s. Both myself and Claire and Barnardo’s were very motivated to get to where we wanted to be.
“We started off by doing our research. We looked at several agencies and local authorities but Barnardo’s seemed to have the right feel for us. This was going to be the biggest journey of our lives so it was important to us that we felt a connection with the agency we chose. From that first phone call it clicked. It felt like we were on the same page. We had the biggest smile on our faces after that first phone call, Barnardo’s was for us we just knew.
“We went away on holiday shortly after this initial conversation and took the time to think things through but as soon as we got home we contacted Barnardo’s again to get things going.
“Next we were visited by a social worker from Barnardo’s. Michelle came to our house and we talked about our motivation to adopt and learned more about the process we would need to go through to become adopters. It didn’t feel like we were being interviewed, it was very free flowing and a great opportunity to ask questions. After this we were raring to go.
“As part of the process we completed some ‘work books’ about our lives – it gave me an opportunity to look at my own life journey and get a sense of that. I came out of the other side feeling clear in my mind about who I am, feeling stronger. It was a great experience.”
Hannah (30) and Claire (34) also took part in special training days with other couples who were looking to adopt. “The Barnardo’s staff were so passionate and honest about what adoption would hold for us. It was also great to meet others wanting to adopt, “ said Hannah, who works in research and development.
The couple were approved by the Barnardo’s adoption panel shortly after completing the training. “We just came out and cried. It was a great feeling,” said Hannah.
The couple initially said they wanted to adopt one child but while away on a business trip, Hannah had a call from Claire who’d been shown a profile of three siblings and something clicked in to place.
“Claire said I really need to look at the profile of these three children – a five, four and two year old. We skyped each other and when I saw pictures of the children, we just had beaming smiles. We just knew that a match with these three little ones would be right for us and that they would be our children.”
Next, the social worker started to progress the ‘match’, with Claire and Hannah being invited to go and see the children from a distance. They drove to a park local to where the foster carer’s home was and saw their new family for the first time.
“We were silent on the way there, we didn’t know how to feel,” said Hannah.” It was such an unusual situation. We walked round the park with our social worker and then turned the corner and there were the children, playing in the park. We just froze, then sat on a bench and watched them. It was so great to see them laughing, get a feel for who they were, their personalities. It actually gave us a realistic view of who they are and cemented what we had felt for them.”
The first planned introduction took place shortly afterwards. “We met in the local park,“ remembers Hannah. “We’d been sending the children pictures and voice messages so they knew a little about us. They were understandably standoffish at first, but then the foster carers went for a coffee and we were left to play with the children. We played with some wooden statues and had fun making horse noises, they were giggling and before we knew if they were holding our hands and chatting. They showed us their favourite parts of the park and where they liked to play. After that we couldn’t wait to see them again.”
After a short period of time learning more about the children and their likes and dislikes, the children moved in to their new home. Hannah says she felt a rush of emotion. “I wanted to cry a lot and didn’t know why. I was so happy, I think it was just so overwhelming. You think about this moment for so long that when it does happen, it’s like ‘wow!’, very emotional.”
Since becoming a family, Hannah says the children ‘have come on in leaps and bounds.’
“Understandably, it took time for us to trust each other. You need time to get to know each other and what makes each other tick. The children have grown in confidence and their speech has come on massively, it’s been incredible to be a part of that. They’re now playing as a group rather than alongside each other. They’re very thoughtful of each other and keen to find out how they can help if one of them is upset. We are so proud of them, we love them to bits.”
Hannah says there have understandably been some challenges in the first few weeks as everyone adjusted to their new lives. “Bedtime was a real challenge at first, and was a bit of a shock. The first night it took us three hours to settle them down. We sat on the sofa after they were in bed and asked how we were going to deal with this. Now things have settled down as the children feel more secure and bedtime is not an issue – they actually ask to go to bed!
Hannah added: “ I would 100% encourage anyone thinking about adoption to contact Barnardo’s. It’s not a sales pitch, there is no pressure. You’ve given time to make your own decisions. Because of that call, our lives are now very different to a year ago. We are loving every moment.“
“The current lockdown has given us an opportunity to bond as a family and to grow together and cement our relationship. I’m working from home and Claire is on adoption leave, but I am loving being around more for the children at this time. We are doing lots of imaginative play in the garden which the children are loving. We can’t wait to get on with the rest of our lives as a family, and watch our kids grow and blossom.”
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