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  • Writer's pictureDamian Kerlin

Forever Family

The highs and lows of our journey to becoming a 'Forever Family'.

I remember planning my outfit. It sounds ridiculous but I remember the conversation with my partner, Andrew, the night before. I wanted something that said I was responsible but fun, light-hearted but protective, and fun but stern too. Upon realising that I didn’t own anything that would present this, I decided on my usual clobber but with a smart shoe.

To be honest Andrew and I did little to no research. We felt that we didn’t want our experience to be hindered through other people’s perspectives and disillusioned by the whole process due to one person’s experience, difficult as it may have been. We treated it like we would if we were to read reviews; you hone in on the negative responses on TripAdvisor, as opposed to the positive, so this we decided not to consume.

That didn’t stop me making up scenarios in my head, but it did stop them from being backed up with reality, which wasn’t what I needed right then.

The next day we called into St David’s during one of their Drop in Sessions and we couldn’t have felt more welcome. The trepidation I felt and the ideology that I would have to present myself as someone different I completely manifested. This very quickly subsided, once we sat down with the social workers present. Here, we were asked some questions to assess our readiness for adoption, but we never felt like we were being judged. The discussion was informative but not overloading. It gave us the information required for us to be able to make an informed decision as to whether we wished to fill out the initial paperwork, progressing us to the next stage.

This is literally name, address, D.O.B, family pets and any other information we would like to disclose. We found ourselves filling out the initial paper work there and then, although we weren’t pressured too and could have taken it away with us to discuss further and drop in at a later date.

Having come away from the Drop in Session we were glad we decided to limit our research. We felt through the information pack and from that initial conversation with St David’s that what we needed to know, they would tell us and it put us in good stead for the assessment process as we started our journey.

You will always ask yourself; am I ready? Am I good enough? I felt I didn’t just have to learn how to become a Dadi, I also had to earn the right to be one. We were asked by others and more often than not by ourselves;

‘Is now the right time?’

Where we 100% ready? Probably not; redeveloping your garden during introductions is not advised but we did it, and we embraced the entire process from the start. Did we take ownership of it; yes; did we work through it with our social worker at a pace that was comfortable for us; yes; did we ask 101 and then some questions throughout regardless of how stupid they sounded; yes; did it completely engulf our lives for 9 months; yes!!

I can’t stress this enough; embrace it! The assessment process covered a wide array of topics around adoption, it succeeds in balancing the intensity of raising an adopted child to the absolute “worth it” moments of forming a family. It is a positive, thought-provoking and informative experience, answering all the questions we had and many that we hadn’t even thought of. You may feel talking about your experiences as intrusive and daunting, but in fact it was highly therapeutic.

You are cautioned to expect problems and mentally you prepare for the worst, but to date, all has been well, we have the normal age-related behaviours and other aspects that perhaps need some fine tuning, however, all in all it feels like they have always been here. Together we have formed a strong attachment and we’re confident that as a family, we will manage any problems that occur in the future.

We have St David's to thank for that!

In the end, it is completely worth it! We have beautiful, funny, energetic children and a very different feel to our home. Toys have taken over our house, nothing we own is clean anymore, fish fingers have become a delicacy and we frequently hear: “Dad, Dadi…look”; “Good morning, Dad, good morning Dadi”; “I need a poo!”; “No, I don’t want to go to bed” or “I love you Dad and Dadi”. These are the sounds of our family setting. This is our story. It may not appear “perfect”, but that’s the best bit, it’s those bits in between when you learn most about each other and you develop that trust and begin to connect as a family.

A forever family.

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