Theresa* adopted Sadie*, who was seven years old, through PACT in 2014. Three years later she adopted seven-year-old Lara*, through a local authority.
Theresa said she’d been interested in and open to adoption for a long time.
“I’d always just thought that if I couldn’t have my own children for any reason I would adopt. I’ve always wanted to be a mother and have my own family and always been very aware of all the children out there that don’t have parents – adoption was always there at the back of my mind.”
After deciding to adopt, Theresa initially approached a local authority but they had a surplus of adopters at that time and suggested she approached PACT.
After being approved to adopt, Theresa was matched with Sadie and she moved in with her. Theresa said initially things were hard as Sadie’s behaviour was very challenging as she struggled to come to terms with what she’d been through.
“I had nothing to compare her with and I loved her completely – to me she was just the best thing in the world, but she came from the worst imaginable background and she was very damaged.”
Theresa said the support she received from therapeutic social worker Kathryn Farrow, of PACT’s Strengthening Families Team, was “amazing”.
“I didn’t have a clue what to do, or how to help her. Kathryn came and helped, and was just amazing. She gave me so many practical tips and techniques to try, she just taught me so much.”
Sadie, who is now 11, is doing very well and has recently settled in well at her new secondary school.
Theresa said: “She’s just come on so much in the last four years. I am so proud of her, and how far she’s come. It’s amazing when I think back to what she was like when she first came.”
In 2018, with Sadie’s support, Theresa adopted Lara*.
“Sadie was so excited to be getting a sister, and they get on really well most of the time. They do have their moments where they argue but mostly they’re really, really lovely together.”
Theresa said the three of them are a very close and supportive team. She is now self-employed and has reduced the hours she works so she can be at home when the girls get back from school.
She said a good routine, structure and discipline were really important to their family life.
“I am really firm with them and that seems to work. We’re also very open as a family. The girls know where they have come from and we do a lot of life story work all the time.
“It’s funny because it’s only now, with hindsight, that I realise how important all the training you get pre-placement is. Now, I use it all the time with the girls.”
Theresa’s advice to anyone thinking about adopting was to be completely committed to it, and to make sure you had family and friends you could turn to for support during tough times.
“You have got to really want to do this from the bottom of your heart – it’s not something you can do unless you are completely dedicated and committed to. If you are, then go for it.”
“It’s the best thing but also the hardest thing I have ever done. I would never go back, and even on the days when things are hard, I know how lucky I am and I wouldn’t change things for the world.
*Names changed in line with confidentiality