Family Matters: Adoption has really enriched our lives

Kirklees adoption: parents Claire and Richard
Kirklees adoption: parents Claire and Richard
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Could you be a ‘forever family’ for one or more of 90 children currently waiting to be adopted?

Adoption is one of the best ways to give children in care a new family for life and Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire has appealed for families from across the region to step forward.

A spokewoman for the council said: “Unlike fostering, prospective parents needn’t be from the same area as their birth parents.

“In some cases, it is in the child’s best interests to be placed away from their birth parents in order to give them the fresh start they need.”

One Yorkshire couple who have done that are Claire and Richard, who adopted two siblings via Kirklees Council – a two-year-old and a four-year old in 2009, followed by a third child, aged 18 months, two years later. With Richard’s two sons from a previous relationship, Claire, 35, and 48-year-old husband Richard had always wanted to add to their family but were unable to have children of their own.

Claire said: “Once we decided to adopt, Richard and I had set our hearts on having three children. Not really knowing what to expect or how long the adoption process would take, we attended an information event at Kirklees Council and were able to get answers to the many questions we had.

“After going through the necessary checks, interviews and an adoption panel, we were matched with two siblings. From there on things moved quickly and we began regular visits with the children before finally bringing them home for good. What struck us about the adoption process was that it took just a matter of months, when we had anticipated it might take years.

“I clearly remember meeting the siblings for the first time. We started with a home visit, which was also attended by social workers. Any anxieties we’d had beforehand soon faded away as the bond between us was almost immediate. Upon entering the room the first thing the youngest sibling, aged just two at the time, said to me was, “you’re my mummy”, while the four-year-old could be heard shouting from the other room “I’m in here!”.

“Several visits later, we eventually took them out by ourselves to a soft play area. It was at that point I allowed myself to believe that we would actually become parents to these two little children. They already felt like they were ours and I looked forward to enjoying similar everyday family activities that I’d never experienced before.

“By the time adoption day came around, we felt happy and excited and could sense that the children were ready to become part of our family. This was thanks largely to the efforts of the Kirklees adoption team both in matching the right children to our family and preparing us all before the big day.

“When the siblings first came to us they had various issues, both physically and developmentally. We had been prepared for this and have been able to address this over time with love and attention. We also received a lot of ongoing support from Kirklees Council both pre and post-adoption and I’m really proud to see how far all three of our children have come since we adopted them. Perhaps one of my proudest moments so far as a parent was when my oldest child, now aged eight, recently achieved the highest score in class for a science test.

“Without a doubt, adoption has enriched and changed our lives for the better and there is no question that all three of our adopted children are very much a part of our family. It’s the little things I’ve come to appreciate about being a mother - from being told “I love you” in the middle of a busy supermarket, to seeing them happily messing around with their older brothers. For me there is no greater feelgood factor than my family.”

Kirklees Council needs families for babies and children of all ages, sibling groups and children with differing abilities. Some will have experienced neglect, abuse or other trauma and some may have learning difficulties or health problems.

Each year there are an estimated 4,000 children across the UK who need adoptive families. The spokeswoman said: “These children have so much to offer and all they are asking is to be part of a family. As well as being hugely rewarding for a parent, the benefits of adoption to a child are immense.

By being given the chance to grow up in a permanent, loving environment they stand the best chance of overcoming many of these issues and ultimately, thrive.

There are no blanket rules for adoption. Don’t count yourself out because of age, marital status or sexuality. It doesn’t matter whether you own or rent your home, whether you work full time or not at all. What’s important is offering a child or sibling group a loving and supportive family for life. Visit www.kirklees.gov.uk/adoption or call 01924 483707.