national adoption week

A journey through adoption with SSAFA

21 October 2015

A journey through adoption with SSAFA

Adoption can be a long and difficult journey, but it can be even more challenging for Forces families. SSAFA’s Adoption Service can make this journey easier. This couple are on their way to adopting two little boys. here they describe their journey in their own words.

My husband and I started our journey towards adoption two years ago. We were both in the Navy and were often deployed or serving in different areas. When we approached our local authority it became clear that our ‘mobile lifestyle’ would present challenges. They recommended we consider adopting through SSAFA as they understand and accept the challenges faced by service personnel. Little did we know how important this advice would become.

Our initial interview with the SSAFA social worker was positive and we were booked on their week’s preparation course in London. The course introduced us to the challenging backgrounds of the children and the issues their parents may have to deal with in the future. The course was intensive, at times emotionally draining and an eye opener into what we may encounter. However, our dedicated social worker was always there to reassure us.

From the start we got on with our social worker and she spent many months getting to know us with a series of detailed interviews about our upbringing, our relationship and any relevant detail to ensure we were suitable to become adoptive parents. We also produced a portfolio of our experiences of looking after children and the research we undertook to prepare us for our future as adoptive parents. Once again, having SSAFA to support us through this process proved invaluable. Service life is rarely predictable and with these work commitments we sometimes struggled to keep up with the adoption process schedule. Our social worker recognized this stress and was able to delay the final approval until we were ready.

After about a year’s preparation, we sat in front of the adoption approval panel of experts. They read our detailed report and portfolio and questioned us about our lives, our preparation and our aspirations to judge our suitability to be adoptive parents. We were approved and allowed ourselves a small celebration to mark the occasion. Up to this point it had all been about us - from here on it would all be about the children!

Finding a child to adopt is not a quick or easy process. After much search we chanced upon one two brothers who captured our imagination. Their foster carers described them as very active and like sponges to every new experience.  Our social worker contacted their family finder and on the drawing up of a shortlist of prospective parents, we were thrilled to see ourselves on it! The local authorities visited everyone on the list and we agonizingly waited for the result. To our delight we were chosen as the potential adoptive parents! For the first time we could start to imagine these two boys as becoming part of our family. 

The final step was the matching panel held by the boys’ local authority. Having already met their teachers, carers and doctor, this meeting was designed to ensure we were the best possible match for the children and nothing had been missed. We passed!! Everything was now in place to get ready to meet the boys and prepare for a life together as a family.

To introduce ourselves to the boys, we prepared ‘talking photo books’ for them. Our social worker told us they were received with great excitement. Our next step will be to meet the boys and get to know them. If all goes well, they will move in with us in a few weeks.

It is the most amazing feeling to be entrusted to become these boys’ ‘forever parents’. We understand this is just the start with many challenges ahead, but we know we are about to embark on the most amazing journey of our lives. We hope we can be the best possible parents for our boys and help them to fulfil their dreams.