Adoption stories

Debbie and her daughter Bo playing outside a supermarket

Debbie’s daughter has a severe disability – she shares the importance of her support network

Debbie adopted her daughter and shared her adoption life story with us in 2021.

Now, two years on, we caught up with Debbie and Bo as she explains how important her support network has become in her family life.

“My daughter has a severe disability and I couldn’t see life without her”
– says single parent Debbie, from Torbay.

Bo's foster sister Joanne giving Bo a hug
Bo’s ‘foster sister’ Joanne gives Bo a hug

Single parent, Debbie, and her six-year-old daughter, Bo, live in Torbay and enjoy life to the full. Debbie’s mother and Debbie’s adult daughters are all a huge help in caring for Bo too. They have embraced having a granddaughter and little sister to love and cherish.

It is easy to see that Bo loves her family and this includes the time she gets to see her ‘foster sister’ Joanne. Bo and Joanne lived together in foster care with Debbie when they were younger. The girls have been able to maintain their important sisterly relationship with their shared experience of adoption at the heart of their two families.

“At the start of our journey I didn’t know everything, there were unknowns and continue to be unknowns. I have had to find a way to deal with this by being realistic about everything.

“My daughter has a severe disability that needs round-the-clock care. 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.

“Parenting is tiring and needs stamina and energy, both physically and emotionally.”

Debbie has developed strategies which are helpful in dealing with the demand on her time and energy. She explains:

“I have now become very prepared! You need to be able to accept organisation being key in your day and routines being important for your child, yet all the time remaining flexible in your thinking.

“Although there are times when I can be pushed to the limits, I need to accept the help and support; it is out there.”

Debbie understands the importance of her family network and the ever-changing support networks of friends and professionals. Making links in the local community and national Facebook groups that have members with comparable situations has also really helped Debbie connect with families with similar experiences.

“It’s really important to be a strong advocate and to be able to speak on your child’s behalf.  I am here to persevere and challenge for a level of support afforded through school, health and social care, which has certainly helped.”

“Our life is supported by physiotherapists, occupational therapists, teachers, support workers and social workers.

“Our support plan includes an adoption allowance. This is important as it has allowed me time to be at home to support Bo’s development.”

Bo at school balancing a crisp on her nose
Bo at school balancing a crisp on her nose

Bo uses Makaton sign language and symbols to communicate and has an amazing ability to melt every person’s heart who has the pleasure to meet her. At school, Bo is a friend to all her classmates. She is happy, settled and has a great sense of humour. 

Bo’s fun personality and sense of humour shines through here as she is pictured balancing a crisp on her nose!

Her teacher says:

“This picture really sums up Bo in class – happy, settled, with a great sense of humour.

“She has become more aware of her feelings and is now able to often self-regulate after her initial upset, she is also able to use symbols to indicate how she is feeling.’

“She is a great friend to all her peers and always looks after them. If she has a friend who is feeling sad or poorly, she is the first to go over and offer them a hug. Bo is a friend to everyone and the fact that her most used sign is ‘friend’ is no surprise.”


Bo poking her tongue out while holding a hen
Bo poking her tongue out while holding a hen

Debbie adds:

“Bo is funny and loving and just adores babies and animals. 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.”

Amanda White, Operations Manager at Adopt South West, adds:

“I talk to adoptive parents a lot and they will all tell me that their lives now feel fuller and more worthwhile as a family. There’s no doubt that it’s hard work – any parent will tell you that – but it’s so rewarding.

“There is ongoing support, from our service, support from other adopters, as well as your own support network. The adoption process is thorough – it has to be, of course – but it’s not as difficult or onerous as people first think.   In talking to adopters they find it to be a journey of self-discovery and a time when they learn so much about children who are waiting for a family.”

“Children with additional health needs or disabilities wait longer to be adopted, yet all children long for the love and stability of being part of a family.

“Now is the time to think again about adoption and consider adopting a child or children with additional needs. If you are considering adoption, please talk to us about taking the next steps.”

Are you ready to adopt?

Bo collecting autumn leaves in her adapted buggy
Bo collecting autumn leaves in her adapted buggy

Find out if you are ready to adopt by using our Ready to adopt? checker.

We hold online information events where you can hear from a local adopter and get your questions answered by a friendly member of the adoption team. The events aim to inform you of the services we provide and the children who are currently waiting the longest for their permanent family.

Names and locations have been changed to protect privacy.