Any parent will tell you that sometimes family-life is difficult with the day to day challenges that come with being a parent. It’s the same for parents who decide to adopt a child.
This week is National Adoption Week, a week in which we highlight adoption and celebrate the good that it brings, not just for children who are adopted, but also for parents who adopt and their extended families.
Parents like Debbie, in Torbay. She adopted her six-year-old daughter, Bo, with Adopt South West. Bo has a disability.
Children with disabilities and/or additional health needs tend to wait longer than others to be adopted. Other groups of children who can also wait an average seven months longer than others to be adopted include older children aged five or over; sibling groups; and children from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Bo’s disability is sometimes challenging, but the joy she brings means that Debbie simply wouldn’t have it any other way.
Debbie has developed new skills and strategies for coping with what life brings her and Bo, but one of the things so important to Debbie is the support network around her.
“My daughter has a severe disability that needs round-the-clock care, and while that’s sometimes challenging, I simply couldn’t imagine my life now without her,” says Debbie.
“We take each day as it comes and acknowledge that even the smallest things take time. But together we celebrate every achievement regardless of what it may be.
“I’ve become very prepared! You need to be able to accept that organisation is a key part of your day and that routines are important for your child, while remaining flexible in your thinking.”
Debbie also has help around her as she encounters new challenges. Debbie’s mum, and Debbie’s adult daughters are a huge help in helping care for Bo.
And it’s so clear that Bo loves her new family, including spending time with Joanne, who Bo lived with while in foster care with Debbie. Joanne has since been adopted by another family, but Bo and Joanne still remain close friends, bonded as foster sisters.
Debbie’s support network extends further. She’s made links in local community and national Facebook groups that have members who have also adopted in similar situations, which Debbie finds very helpful.
There’s also a lot of support for Debbie from Adopt South West.
Amanda White is Operations Manager at Adopt South West. She says that while adopting a child is so rewarding, like all parenting, it can of course be a struggle sometimes.
“Being a parent of a young child with a disability is difficult sometimes, but with support around you, it’s absolutely achievable.
“I talk to adoptive parents a lot and they all tell me that their lives now feel fuller and more worthwhile as a family. Yes, it’s sometimes hard work, as any parent would tell you, but it’s so rewarding.
“There is ongoing support from our service, as well as support from other adopters, as well as your own support network of family members and friends.”
There’s always a need for more people willing to adopt children who have often been in local authority care. Adopt South West is encouraging potential adoptive parents to come forward, especially those who could consider looking after slightly older children, or children with disabilities or additional needs, or siblings, or children from ethnic minority backgrounds.
“Bo is funny and loving,” says mum, Debbie. “She has the most infectious smile and the best belly laugh. We have not met anyone who didn’t fall in love with her. I couldn’t see life without her.”
“Children with additional health needs or disabilities do wait longer to be adopted,” says Amanda. “And yet all children long for the love and stability of being part of a family.”