Catherine and Oliver
Oliver is a Vibration Analyst in the Navy. He and his partner Catherine adopted a son, Harry, through the SSAFA adoption service in 2015.
Sign up for our email newsletter to get our latest news in your inbox
"We had our first birth son, Sam, without any problems but when we started trying for a second child I had several miscarriages, which took over my life," explains Catherine. "We had always wanted to adopt at some point - my mum was fostered so it had always been in my mind. Finding out I had endometriosos meant we just brought the decision forward. I knew we had to get over the idea of having a second birth child first, but then we started looking at our options."
Oliver, a Chief Petty Officer, was able to get a two-year shore leave enabling them to plan the adoption process around that. The couple attended an open evening at their local authority but were disappointed with the lack of understanding about the military way of life.
"Luckily my neighbour knew we were looking into adoption and showed me a SSAFA advert in Homeport," says Catherine. "I hadn’t realised that SSAFA does adoption but I called up and they were so nice. We lived in a two-bedroom flat at the time and were not going to be entitled to another bedroom until we were approved to adopt. The local authority just didn’t get it but SSAFA understood, which made things a lot easier.
"We didn’t want to move out of the area as we didn’t want to disrupt our son’s schooling as well as his home life. Our SSAFA social worker supported us by writing a letter to explain the situation and we got a new house in the same area, just a couple of weeks after we were approved to adopt in November 2015."
Catherine and Oliver first saw their youngest son when he was just nine months old. Later, after two weeks of introductions with him, he came home to live with the family. "Having my husband at home on adoption leave for six months made a huge difference," says Catherine. "That's one of the great things about the Navy. It meant that I could take some time out and go and read a book or have a cup of tea when I needed to because I had his support.
"I did feel guilty at first because we had changed our family dynamic but Harry is now Sam’s shadow. Sam is really gentle with him and has lots of patience with him.
"Harry has been with us for nine months now. I would say he made us work for his attention and love but he is definitely one of us now!"
Names have been changed.