Meet Gemma and Louise
Gemma and Louise had always dreamt of being parents. After being together almost ten years, they decided they were ready to take the next step in their relationship and start a family of their own.The couple adopted their 14-month old daughter Bella* through the SSAFA adoption service and are now in the process of adopting her younger sister.
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"Gemma and I always knew we wanted children," says Gemma. "Before deciding to adopt, we tried IVF but unfortunately had four failed attempts. That’s when we approached the local council to enquire about adoption."
However, Gemma’s career in the RAF - she had served as a Logistics Leader for almost three years - meant the couple came up against opposition when trying to take the traditional route to adopt. "Social workers said that Louise wouldn’t be able to cope because I work away in the military," reveals Gemma. "That’s why it was so important for us to have an adoption agency that really understood the challenges of military life."
This is a common predicament for military families looking to adopt, as regular postings and deployments can make it difficult for service personnel to adopt through the local authority.
After some research, Gemma and Louise decided to approach SSAFA. It was a decision that eventually led to them bringing little Bella home.
"Becoming parents has been an amazing experience," smiles Louise. "Bella actually came home on my birthday and I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday present. Nothing will ever top that! Now, we don’t know what we used to do before we had Bella. It’s like she’s always been here."
Gemma adds: "Work has been really flexible - Louise works on the military base so we shared parental leave for Bella and had time at home with her. It’s an adjustment because Bella is our number one priority now but we can balance being parents alongside work quite easily."
Says Louise: "We’re so glad we went with SSAFA - the support we have received throughout the process has been excellent. We had the same social worker all the way through Bella’s adoption. There are a lot of people who just don’t understand military life so it was ideal having someone who knew about our work schedules.
"We just feel really lucky."
*Child's name has been changed.
Find out more about SSAFA's adoption service.