Martin and Kellie had always wanted children. After several failed attempts at fertility treatment, they started to think about other ways to start a family.Martin tells their story here.
Deciding to adopt with Barnardo's
After some serious thought we were clear in our minds that we wanted to adopt. We had always donated to Barnardo’s, and my dad had a relative who was a Barnardo’s boy, so it seemed natural to adopt with the charity. Barnardo’s helps find adoptive parents for children who are harder to place like children with a disability, older children and sibling groups.
The arrival of our children
After 18 months of visits and assessments, our three-year-old daughter and five-year-old son came to live with us. It’s going really well – much better than we could have hoped for. Once we had a date to meet the children, I decided to take a month off work, which helped in forming attachments with them. I now understand that the paternity laws have been amended, allowing six weeks’ pay at 90 per cent to be taken; if that had been the case then, I would have used this rather than my own annual leave. It’s important for children to have that time to feel safe and secure with both parents, so it’s good that future adopters have the opportunity to take extended leave to forge bonds with their children.
Our children benefitted from me being at home with them every day. By the time I went back to work they were settled enough to understand I would go out in the morning but I would always come back. It was also great to see their personalities develop and see all the little changes.
Adapting to family life
We had one wobbly week at the beginning, but after Barnardo’s visited us and gave us lots of brilliant advice, things got better within days and they are as good as gold.
As with any new parents, the biggest challenge is how your life changes overnight. One minute you’re a married couple doing what you want and the next you’re a parent with a huge responsibility to children who you are still getting to know. It's a massive transition for all: Mum, Dad and the children.You can still have the odd day where you miss your old life, but then you look at the children and you realise that they are your new focus and this allows you to move on and continue to build an attachment and a loving family. Both my wife and I now take a great deal of pleasure in experiencing a family life, and our friends still play a large part and love to see the children.
A new life for our children
For the children, everything was new and different. Even a trip to the supermarket was strange for them. It’s important to remember that an event that you wouldn’t give a second thought is always a first experience for the children. Everything is new, and it’s a word you will hear a lot.
As a father, it’s great to be able to offer my children reassurance and peace of mind that this is their forever home and we will look after and love them no matter what.
The pleasure of watching them grow
My wife and I have the satisfaction and pleasure of watching them develop as they grow up. They have both settled extremely well and love their new lives. They both enjoy going to their respective schools, spending time at Nanny’s and Granddad’s and socialising with their new friends.
This Father’s Day, I‘ll enjoy all the little, simple things that are great about being a dad. Last week I bought my son his first pair of football boots, and the smile on his face gave me an enormous amount of satisfaction. These are the sorts of things I missed out on when my friends were having children, and now we can enjoy them together as a family.
A life-enriching experience
As an adoptive parent, the adoption process is an extensive look at yourself to prepare you to become a parent to children who have not had the best of starts in life. There are many challenges, but the rewards are far greater. It’s a life-changing and life-enriching experience for the parents and the child. Each day when I return home from work I am met at the door by our two children calling out 'Daddy’s home!' and then receiving a warm hug from both. Could I ask for any more?