Owen and Siwan adopted two girls through Barnardo's. Below, Owen tells us about their adoption journey, and how they felt when they finally got to bring their daughters home.
The adoption process
I think the process is a very long and thorough one – but I feel like this is appropriate. This is the most important thing you do in your life and you have to get it right.
The training and preparation was all valuable time spent. We remember a lot of the training material now and use it as a reference point. And now that we’re on the other side of the application process, you almost forget about how long the process was.
Our daughters are extraordinary little people and they are a constant inspiration to us.
Their relationship with one another is lovely – they have each other, and they don’t know of life without one another. We know that if anything happens to one of them, the other one would be there like a shot for her sister. There’s a bond between them that’s closer, I think, than other siblings. And it’s reassuring for us because we know that no matter what happens they will always look out for each other.
Hearing them laugh for the first time
We welcomed the girls into our home at the beginning of June so had a long summer ahead of us. There was a day when we had the sprinklers on in the garden. Our oldest daughter started to run with her sister, then Daddy joined in, then Mami. The girls just thought it was brilliant that we were getting completely soaked as well. That was the first time we heard our oldest daughter really laugh.
Growing as a family
We are all transformed.
Our older daughter is so much more secure, growing in confidence and maturity all the time, and one of the mothers in the playground says she walks differently. Her teacher describes her as a role model. Our younger daughter was on the 25th percentile for height when she joined us and is now on the 75th percentile. Her nursery teacher says that she would never have guessed she was a looked-after child.
Our family and friends have transferred their love for us to our children, accepted them from day one and want to do everything they can to help.
Advice for prospective adopters
You have to be quite hard-headed about it all, so be clear about how many children you want and of what ages. Think carefully about the conditions you can cope with. Go into the process with open eyes, but don’t be put off by all the reading and information on children’s background – these documents are written to justify the children being taken into care.
We think you have to trust the social workers and the process. The social workers care very deeply about getting the right match for the children and you have to go along with their judgement and insight.
Why we chose Barnardo's
We looked into a few different agencies, local authorities and charitable organisations. We narrowed it down to two, but Barnardo’s won our vote because they offer life-long support. Since the beginning, they’ve given us amazing preparation and support and I think the journey would have been a lot tougher without that support.
Barnardo’s also really understand children – there’s immense individual and organisational expertise in adopted children. We phone our social worker not to just consult with her but we’re genuinely interested in what she thinks. It’s as if you’re talking to a friend as well as an expert.
We see Barnardo’s as our friends going through this journey as well as friends who are there for our girls.