Sasha* is a single adopter who brought her daughter Maya* home in May 2019 when she was 13 months old. Maya’s adoption was legalised four months later in September 2019.
Sasha works as a children’s nurse and has always wanted to be a mum, but never found the right person to settle down and start a family with. As time went on, she knew the likelihood of having a birth child was decreasing and when she turned 40, she started to seriously consider adopting a child. “Adoption seemed the obvious choice to find a way of fulfilling my dream.”
She preferred the permanence of adoption over fostering, for both herself and her child, and felt that giving a child who had already had a difficult start in life the chance to have a loving, stable home was the best thing she could do. She spent around a year considering adoption and working out how she would manage financially, practically and emotionally. “Once I had convinced myself that it could be feasible, I knew that I would always regret it if I didn’t take the next step of starting along the adoption process.”
Sasha assumed that she would simply adopt through her local authority until she spoke to a friend who had adopted two children through PACT. “She was full of enthusiasm and praise for PACT, not just through the initial adoption process, but also with the lifelong support and access to things like FACTS, the Adopter Hub and relevant training days.” Sasha liked the look of PACT from their website and also saw that PACT was rated outstanding by OFSTED. With that, she made her decision: “I booked on to an information event and never looked back.”
The different stages of the adoption process went smoothly for Sasha. “I had heard many stories both good and bad about the adoption process, and I’m pleased to say I found it all pretty straightforward and much less invasive than I had been expecting.“ Her social workers were very friendly and made her feel at ease throughout the home visits.
She reflected that the lengthy home study that the social workers have to undertake is an interesting opportunity to look in great detail at things like your childhood, family, relationships and ambitions. While this can be challenging for some, Sasha had a stable and loving upbringing and found this to be a mostly enjoyable reflection. Overall, Sasha said, “I felt I was well equipped and informed at each part of the journey and the training days were interesting and enlightening.”
The most challenging part of the process for Sasha came next, when it was time for her to choose her child. She worried about how she would know if the child was right for her and how she would manage to choose one profile out of 3,000. “Having to narrow it down to just a handful of children is tough and emotionally exhausting, as every child is in desperate need of a new family and I can only take one. It felt to me like a leap of faith, and I just had to trust that I’d made the right decision, with the support of my family finder and social worker.”
Once she had chosen her child, the time came for her to meet Maya for the first time. Sasha first met her at the foster carer’s home and felt uncertain about how to react. “It was exciting, but also nerve wracking to finally meet the child that you have agreed to adopt and read so much about.“ However, her fears were put to one side when Maya greeted her with an enormous smile and happily sat and played with her. Sasha said it felt surreal to hold her future child, knowing that one day soon Maya would come and live with her forever and she would become a mother.
While interacting with Maya, she noticed that there were some areas of development where Maya was behind which had not been picked up on in the reports, but after some reflection Sasha felt this was not a barrier. Once she had taken time to process the visit, she felt that her choice was still the right one. “I was filled with a sense of calm and knew that I would be able to make it work and would do my best to give her all the opportunities to reach her full potential.”
When Maya moved in with her, Sasha said it was easier than she expected and Maya adapted really well to her new home. There was some initial separation anxiety and Maya would sometimes cry through the nights in the first few weeks but her attachment to Sasha grew and grew. Within weeks, her development was progressing and Sasha felt privileged to be able to experience so many firsts with her daughter. “Watching her grow and develop has been a joy and I think I was on a high for months.”
Thinking about how having a child compares to looking after children as a nurse, Sasha reflects on how different it is to be a mother. “I’m used to looking after sick children in my job, but looking after your own child and being ‘mummy’, not a nurse when they are ill, is not always easy. I now understand why the parents I see at work are so frequently tearful. I think I will now be a better and more empathetic nurse when I go back to work.”
Q: What have been the highlights of your adoption journey so far?
“There have been so many highlights – from the first time she cried when I left her, to watching her learn to clap, wave, point, crawl, walk and now learning to talk. The first time she said “mummy” was magic, along with “cuddles” and “love you”. Our first mini holiday to Bournemouth was super special and our first Christmas together was amazing too.
Seeing her joy at mastering new skills and exploring the world has been just amazing. Seeing her thrive and catch up, and being so settled and secure is more than I ever hoped to achieve in this first year. She has also been completely loved, accepted and adored by my family and friends, which has just made me realise how my decision to adopt was completely the right thing to do.”
Q: What have been the biggest challenges?
“I think for me the biggest challenge as a parent is still to come, when I return to work and have to balance working as a single mum with a young child, and having to be up and out of the house by 7am! ”
Q: What would you say to anyone considering adoption?
“Just go for it and see where it leads you. I never imagined I’d be a mum to the most gorgeous little girl; she has completely transformed my life. She has filled a gap that I didn’t know existed and she is such a blessing. I totally hit the jackpot and am so proud to call myself her mummy. At the time, the process feels like it’s going to be a long journey, but it really does fly by and once you have them at home, you totally forget and it feels like it just took a few months. I would advise talking to people who have adopted, keep reading lots of books and keep remembering that the process may feel tough at times, but it is totally worth it. You have the opportunity to transform the lives of any children you adopt, and to make your dreams come true at the same time.”
*Names changed in line with confidentiality