Theresa and John

Theresa and John have been married for eight years. That’s when John became a dad – step-dad to Theresa’s three children - ‘a bit complicated – one mum, two dads, three sets of grandparents, and three teenagers with very different views about me as a step-dad’.

Theresa agrees that things were complicated and took time to settle – but it did, and family life has been great. It’s been challenging at times and there have been some tears and tantrums along the way, but as Theresa says ‘we’d be a strange family if that hadn’t happened’.

And then after the youngest finished her degree, she stayed in her university town with her university boyfriend and did not return home. The older two have come and gone a bit, but are now settled with partners and adult life. Theresa and John miss the hustle and bustle of family life. Theresa said ‘we began to think about the next few years, and couldn’t quite see ourselves rattling around a house which is meant to have a family in it. I love being a mum, doing the school run, playing board games and hide and seek, family holidays in a caravan at the sea, cinema trips to the latest Disney, piles of ironing, reading a bedtime story, Christmas stockings and lots of love and laughing and noise and mess – and John has been a brilliant dad – just ask our kids!!’

The couple thought about fostering after seeing an advert in the local press. John said ‘we got as far as an Information Event, but we both realised that when someone joins our family it is forever – we could not see ourselves having a child for a short time and then letting them go. One of the social workers at the meeting asked if we had considered adopting, and suggested we should think about it’.

The couple explained they had just assumed that they would not be able to adopt. Theresa was worried about her divorce, and they both thought that in their late 40s they are too old. However, they Googled, found Adoption Focus and booked themselves into an Adoption Information Event…’and we’re so glad we did – look where we are now’.

Arriving at the Information Event, they immediately felt relaxed - well almost immediately. Theresa said ‘it was actually immediately after I told the social worker why I thought they wouldn’t let us adopt, and they told me that our ages and me being divorced were not problems. They explained that they would need to contact my ex, and that they would want to talk to our children; and that all adopters have a medical to check that they are fit and well regardless of age’.

And after that the couple began the process. Theresa says there were a lot of questions, and they found some of the information about the reasons why children need new families, hard to hear, but says it was all important.

‘I knew that children who need to be adopted must have come from difficult home circumstances, otherwise they wouldn’t need a new family, but I suppose I had never really thought about nor wanted to think about what that might mean. It was hard to hear about it, but Adoption Focus helped us to keep thinking about the child, and what we could do to make things better for him or her’.

After they were approved, John and Theresa were invited to attend an Exchange Day. It’s where approved adopters can meet social workers who are looking for new parents for children. John said ‘it felt a bit strange to us, going to an office to look at photos of children, and to see if we might want to adopt them. But it was really good – when you get a photo and a description of a child, you can feel overwhelmed by all the bad stuff. The child is older, and is struggling to learn at school, and has tantrums. And then you talk to the child’s social worker who tells you that the child is friendly and a giggler, that he loves a joke, his favourite cartoon is Frozen which he sings along to, and he will only go to bed after his foster mum has given him a cuddle and kissed him on the top of his head - and that he is struggling at school, but he’s making really good progress because for the first time in his life he has stopped being frightened of adults. And then we thought about the tantrums ours were still having in their teens, and thought if I was him and didn’t know how long I could stay with the people they call foster-carers, I would have tantrums too’.

And that was Joe – at five, people weren’t giving him a second glance because he was too old. Theresa said

‘We started this thinking we were too old. But here he was at five years old - it’s shocking’.

‘And then we said we would like to find out more about him, and his social worker was so pleased. This really was his last chance.

And when he moved to us, he wasn’t grateful or happy, or pleased – he was frightened, and angry and upset. So the tantrums came back, and the bedwetting continued, and we wondered what we had done to our lives. And then we remembered that this is what family life is like – he didn’t choose to be here with us, but we had made a promise to Joe that we would care for him, and that he would be part of our family. And when someone joins our family, it is forever.

And here we are enjoying family life again with all the challenges and all the fun. We see more of our big kids too because they want to make sure that he knows his big brother and sisters, and their family house is a good place to be’.

There’s no perfect profile of an adopter. Children need adoptive parents who will care for them throughout their childhood and into adult lives and provide a stable and caring home, and importantly, love them for who they are. Could you adopt?