Dispelling the myths about adoption as Bolton smashes national average rate
BOLTON has among the highest adoption rates in the country at double the national average. Vickie Scullard meets the parents who are making a difference.
LAST year 48 children were adopted into families in Bolton — but there are now 55 children waiting to be matched with their new family.
There are a number of myths surrounding adoption — such as age, wealth, gender and marital status, but Cllr Madeline Murray, Cabinet Member for Looked After Children and Early Years, is keen to demonstrate that this is not the case.
She said: “Adopters can make a real difference to children’s lives, providing a loving and supportive home which is both rewarding to the children and those adopting.
“Applications for adoption are welcomed from all sectors of the community and there are very few restrictions on who can adopt. In Bolton, we have adopters from all backgrounds, of different faiths or religions, married, single, gay and straight.”
The Adoption Team in Bolton is committed to providing support to prospective adopters via regular support groups, training or working with individual families.
Two families from Bolton have agreed to tell their stories to help banish the myths surrounding adoption in the hope that it will encourage more people to sign up to the register. All names have been changed.
CASE STUDY 1 Claire Thomas, aged 40, and fiancé Daniel Ashford, aged 46, adopted Jack in April this year. He is now 18-months-old.
Miss Thomas said: “Daniel and I were unable to have our own children. We tried IVF but that didn’t work. We met each other quite late in life so it may have been an age issue.
“We first discussed the idea of adoption about two or three years ago. This was the only way that we could have a child together.
“Daniel rang the Bolton Adoption Team at the beginning of last year and we were invited to a preparation group in July. Here we learned about the kinds of backgrounds that the children came from. That was harrowing at times, but it prepares you for what is to come and what you are comfortable with.”
The couple, who have been together since 2008 and are now engaged, started the assessment process in August 2012.
Miss Thomas said: “In the assessments we discussed what kind of child we would be comfortable and physical disabilities, ethnicity, age and gender.
“They asked us about our backgrounds and our financial situation.We had a health and safety check. Even our dog had one.
“The assessments were intense but looking back it was really good to discuss it in such detail as it prepared us for what was coming next.”
The pair went to a panel in January last year to be approved, before being matched with Jack just a month later.
Miss Thomas said: “I fell in love with Jack straight away. It’s a connection that I can’t describe.
“Before we met him we were given a photo of him and details about his background.
“Daniel and I put together a book with our photos and recordings of our voices so he could recognise us when he met us.”
Jack, who had been in foster care, met his new parents in April this year for an introduction week, before moving into his new home permanently.
Miss Thomas said: “We had a couple of hours with him on the first day and then throughout the introduction week it became longer and longer to help him slowly detach from his foster parents.
“The first time that he came home with us was a couple of hours on Sunday at the end of the introduction week and then he came to live with us for good the next day, on Monday, May 13. He settled in straight away.”
Miss Thomas says she would advise anyone thinking of adoption to pick up the phone and take it from there.
She added: “That phone call was the hardest thing we have ever done, but it was worth it.”
CASE STUDY 2 IT worker Jo, aged 42, and husband Robert Stevenson, aged 46, have a six-year-old daughter, Molly. They adopted Benjamin, aged 19 months, in April after struggling to conceive a second child.
Mrs Stevenson said: “We’ve got our own daughter. After 18 months we started trying again but suffered three early miscarriages and a late miscarriage, which was really hard. But there comes a time when you have to stop and look at other avenues.
“For us it was giving up on the idea of having our own child. We thought that we would have another then another. But it doesn’t always work that way and we always had it in our minds that adoption was an alternative for us.
“We got in touch with the council in May 2012 and went to the June preparation group and started the assessments soon after.
“There were eight assessments, some of which Molly was involved with.We didn’t tell her initially, just in case something didn’t work out, but she was very excited once we told her.”
The couple, who have been married for five years, say they were surprised at just how quick the process was.
Mr Stevenson said: “Within just a couple of weeks of being approved we were contacted about Benjamin.
“We were sent a photograph and his background information.
“We read all the details on Benjamin and we couldn’t believe he didn’t already have a home.
“When we met him that was when we were at our most nervous. At first we spent an hour with him, and that built up over the week.
“He had our photos and our voices to listen to in an audio book we made for him.
“Plus we put in pictures of his grandparents, of his room and of his new sister. This is so they feel like they’re being given to their new home rather than feel like they’re being taken away.”
On April 22, Benjamin moved in with the Stevenson family permanently.
Mrs Stevenson said: “Driving him back to the house was like the drive home from the hospital just after your baby has been born. You just know that your life had changed massively.
“I have a friend that tried for years to have a child but she would never adopt because she said it wouldn’t be hers.
“But I would say that you don’t feel different.
“I have one child born naturally and one adopted and I feel just as strongly for both of them.”
Anyone interested in finding out more should contact Bolton Council’s Adoption Team on 01204 337480 or visit bolton.gov.uk/adoption for more information.
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