Ruth and Oli adopted their daughter Saffy* in 2018 when she was 14 months old. They are a mixed race couple and they met at work; Ruth, who is British Caribbean, used to work as a train station manager and Oli, who is White British, works as a train driver.
Ruth said that adoption is something they had always considered as a way to grow their family.
“Oli went to live with his godparents at age 11 when his mum sadly passed away. They became his legal guardians and they were happy as a family so adoption is something we always thought we would look into after having birth children.”
The couple discovered, however, that they had fertility issues and after several failed IVF treatments and a loss, they decided to start the adoption process.
Ruth and Oli heard about PACT through the Fertility Show in 2015. PACT runs a stall at this show each year to give out information about adoption and Ruth and Oli took home an information pack.
After stopping fertility treatment, they took a break to reset and then got in touch with PACT to book onto an adoption information evening.
“We found it very well organised and informative and we got a really good vibe – it made us want to adopt even more.”
The adoption process was an intense experience for Oli and Ruth, with a lot of paperwork and checks in Stage one. They found the preparation course to be very informative and eye-opening and enjoyed the opportunity to meet other prospective adopters.
“It was nice for us because we were all in the same boat. We are still in contact with some of the other adopters that we met on the course and try to meet up a few times a year which is lovely for us and the children.”
Stage two was particularly hard and emotional at times, Ruth commented: “We had to revisit some painful areas of our past, but it was also cathartic to talk about these and gain a different insight into them.”
As a mixed race couple, Ruth and Oli were advised from the outset that there were a lot of mixed race children waiting to be adopted and Ruth found this to be the case when they reached the matching stage of the process.
“We looked at a lot of profiles once we were approved. It was quite difficult as it was hard to say no, but at the same time, we had to think about what was best for the child and for us.”
After being matched with their daughter Saffy, meeting her for the first time was an amazing moment for the couple.
“It was the most nerve wracking and overwhelming feeling ever! We hardly slept the night before. As soon as we saw her little face, she became the love of our lives. We played with her a lot and hearing her laugh was amazing. She sat down with us and we were able to feed her which was lovely. It’s definitely one of best days ever.”
When Saffy moved in with them, Ruth said that they experienced a multitude of emotions: “It was joyous and happy, but also very surreal and overwhelming as we went from a couple to a family overnight and that took some getting used to.”
They found that, like any new parents, they questioned themselves a lot at first but this lessened over time as they settled into a good routine.
“We just made sure that we did everything we could to ensure that Saffy was happy, safe and content and we showered her with as much love as we could give her.”
Since their adoption order was granted, Ruth and Oli have not needed any further support from PACT but they have maintained contact with their social worker. Ruth said the continuous support PACT provides is one of the primary reasons why they chose to adopt with the agency: “We are fully aware that if we require help in the future, we can ask for it.”
What have been the biggest challenges so far?
“Completing paperwork was arduous.”
“Family finding was difficult as we saw so many profiles and had to say no to a lot of them.”
“Meeting Saffy’s birth parents, especially her birth mum, was intense and emotional.”
What have been the highlights?
“Being approved as adopters – it was a massive weight off our shoulders and we knew that at some point in the near future, we would be bringing our child home and finally be a family.”
“Meeting Saffy for the first time and getting to hold and cuddle her.”
“The day we brought her home.”
“The first time she called us Mama and Daddy and came to us for comforting.”
“The day her adoption order was granted – knowing that she was legally our daughter and now had our surname.”
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about adopting?
“Go to an information event, speak to the social workers and adopters there, get as much information as you can and ask lots of questions.“
“Once you have started the process, keep on top of the paperwork.
“Air any issues or concerns you have to your social worker; they are there to help and are not trying to catch you out.
“As hard as it may get, try to remain positive and keep going!”
Ruth spoke about her experience in this article for the Sun’s Fabulous Magazine.
*Name changed for confidentiality