Adoption and fostering were things we always talked about, even before we were married. Both sets of our parents had divorced back in the 70s when divorce was less common, so we both grew up in slightly unconventional families. I think our early experiences and our faith made us want to do family in a different way.
During the early years of our marriage, we put these thoughts onto a back burner. We gave birth to a lovely daughter and then a son and it seemed our family was complete, but then the coincidences started happening! We kept meeting adoptive families, our pastor and his wife started the process to adopt, and there were television programmes, dramas and documentaries all about adoption. We started thinking about it again.
We started our first assessment when our children were five and three. We were open to adopting children with additional needs, reasoning that these children often waited the longest for their adoptive families. Our daughter arrived two years later. She was two and a half, and had limb deformity and a cleft pallet - and what a character!
A year later we started the process again. During our first assessment, we had been approved for a sibling group, so presumed we would again. After a year, we were joined by a sibling group of two, and when their brother’s placement broke down a year later, he came to us too. Six children…that was more than we had planned for, and working around education and health needs was a challenge.
While we were living abroad, we were approached for an emergency foster placement for a little girl with physical disabilities who was suffering from malnutrition. She joined us within a few days. She was quite severely disabled; unable to sit, talk or walk. She was completely reliant on us, but so bright and with a great sense of humour! We all fell in love with her, so, when given the chance to adopt her, we gladly did!
We found ourselves with seven children, a wheelchair, two sets of hearing aids, and many surgeries. If we had known all of the details at the start, we would have never gone forward.
There have been tough times with serious challenges, but each of our children are a gift and a joy and we would never be without them. They have taught us so much and have been very understanding as we learned to parent them. The house is quiet again now, with just one left at home, but Christmas is crazy – with three students back from university, a son-in-law, two grandchildren and lots of laughter!
Would we do it all again? Yes! And we hope to, through fostering.