Following fertility issues, Jennifer who is Black British of Caribbean decent and her husband who is White British, decided adoption would be the best option for them. Now aged 5 years old, they adopted their son when he was still a baby.
Talking about the process, which lasted 10-months, Jennifer says: “Whilst the adoption process is very detailed, it’s necessarily so. Ultimately you are taking lifelong responsibility for child’s wellbeing and of course, many of the children in question will be dealing with some degree of trauma. The more your social worker knows about you, the better, because this helps to ensure the best fit in terms of the child you are placed with.”
“I was adamant at first that I wanted a child of Caribbean origin but it really doesn’t make a difference to us now. It’s easy to get caught up in specifics on ethnicity but my advice to adoptive parents is that it’s best to be open minded so that you can be placed with the child that’s right for you and your family.”
Reflecting on bringing their son home for the first time, Jennifer says: “Before bringing our son home, we had “Introductions” over the course of two weeks, this involves visiting the foster carer’s home where he was living, for him to become familiar with us and us with him. We helped with his daily routine and took him out to the park. Toward the end of our “introductions”, he visited our house, before officially moving in with us. It was important to get as much information from the foster carer, as up to that point, she was the person that knew him best, his personality – his likes and dislikes. It was an amazing and emotional time.”
“Our family were extremely supportive, wanting to meet our son immediately when we brought him home, but it was important to have some ‘alone time’ to help our son adjust. Gradually, we had visitors and after a while everything just clicked and it was like he had always been with us.”
“My advice to other potential adopters around telling family and friends, is that it is important to understand how adoption works and how it can fit into your family. Whilst in our circumstance, our friends and family were really supportive, it’s only natural for people to have questions and perhaps even a negative view of adoption, because of old fashion views or stereotypes.”
Reflecting on life as a family, Jennifer says: “My son and husband are avid Lego builders. As a family we like to meet up with relatives and have days out to create happy memories. We help develop our son’s identity with the cultural things we do, like going to Carnival, the food we eat and helping him to understand his heritage. We are currently in the process of adopting a second child and if he or she is not from a Caribbean background we will look into their heritage, learn about it and share this with them – as it is an important part of being an adoptive parent.”
“I think at times cultural barriers may stop people from black communities from coming forwards for adoption, for example, there is sometimes stigma attached to not being able to have your own children or perhaps concerns about telling the wider community. However, there are so many children out there that need love and nurturing parents. You may even have already had your family, but feel you have more to give to another child.
For anyone thinking of adopting, start by gathering as much information as possible. Educate yourself before you take the plunge. Attend free adoption information evenings, where you can speak to other adopters and social workers. There are lots of useful YouTube videos and Facebook groups and websites that will help create an informed decision.
I’d definitely tell anyone, whatever their situation that adoption can be for them and is very rewarding. If you have the physical and emotional capacity to adopt, I’d say go for it. It will be a rollercoaster of a ride, but it’s definitely the best thing we ever did!”