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Hayley and Matt’s Story

We are Hayley and Matt and we wanted to tell you about our experience adopting with Family Adoption Links.

Young girl with bunch of coloured balloons

Young girl with bunch of coloured balloons

It was important to us to find the right agency so we did a lot of research and spoke to other adoption agencies before deciding to undertake our adoption journey with Family Adoption Links Lincolnshire.

Once our Registration of Interest was accepted, we started the initial assessment and training process. We found the adoption preparation training was really useful. It surprised us and our family and friends how much preparation training there was but since we had our daughter, we realise how much it has helped us with settling our daughter into our home and thinking about her needs. It was also a great way to build our knowledge, we asked lots of questions throughout the process to ensure that we had all the information that we needed. It was also a great way to build upon our support network to include other adoptive parents.

We found the whole assessment process very interesting. It is intense and very thorough. It went it to a lot more detail on our personal history and background than maybe we expected but it was well explained and flowed well. Our Social Worker was always on hand to help with any questions or where we needed to add more information or context. The thing that came through clear from the start is the process is all about getting what is best for the child. Our mindset going in was naturally more associated to what we wanted but you very quickly adapt. It was challenging at times during the approval process needing time off work for interviews, courses etc but both of our employers were very understanding and supported us a lot. I would also say to speak to your HR department to understand what the policy is as many allow extra holiday days for adoption meetings, and the leave entitlement is the same for adoption as it is for natural birth.

We found it very useful talking to people who had adopted previously and recommend joining a support group when the time is right. We also had lots of support from friends and family who were intrigued by the process. I think having a support network like that is important.

Our Social Worker got to know us really well, this ensured that when the time came for us to be matched with a child, we knew that we could trust her to find the right match for us, and when the time came, she did find us the perfect match.

Once the Adoption Panel had recommended our match, the next step was to go through the process of being introduced to our child – us getting to know her and her getting to know and trust us. The introductions were tiring but very rewarding. It was a strange situation to be in as you build a bond with your child in someone else’s home who has cared for the child for potentially a long time but our foster carers were brilliant at giving us enough space whilst being on hand when we needed and teaching us the routine. It also helped starting slowly and building up over a few days taking on more and more and building that bond and trust.

Our daughter was young when she came to us, so the bond was quite quick as she was very dependent on us. What worked well for us was having structure but also a variety of activities and mixing the play between both of us, so she didn’t become reliant on one parent or the other. We both also accepted very early that she will go through phases or ‘preferring’ one of us to the other in certain situations. We both took adoption leave which really helped with getting both our daughter, and us, into a routine and being able to share the initial impact, because as amazing as it is, it’s also a huge change to your life. I would also say that as much as family and friends will want to come and meet your new child, the important thing is making sure they are settled before overwhelming them with lots of new people.

We absolutely love being adoptive parents but we don’t necessarily feel like an adoptive parent, just parents, and our daughter has fitted into not only our immediate family but extended family perfectly. We love watching our daughter develop. It seems at the moment, that every day her personality is growing, and she is learning new things. There are ‘waves’ of development that you can see and it’s always exciting when something clicks into place for her for the first time. We also love looking back at old videos and pictures to see how she has developed. We are very lucky that we haven’t experienced many challenges above the normal ones you would expect as a parent, but we know they will come, and we feel prepared for some but will also use the services and training courses such as the ‘Telling’ course when the time is right. We also have other adoptive parents we can talk to for support.

We talk about adoption regularly, we see the foster carers, our friends and family know she is adopted and we engage in letterbox contact twice a year with our daughter’s birth family, but it changes very little how we parent or feel about our family. Every situation is different, and we know that may change as she gets older and asks more questions and understands more, but we are ready for this and know that the Adoption Service will support us if and when we need it.

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