Laura is a 36 years old business consultant from Tyne and Wear, and is a very proud mammy to her beautiful little boy John.* 

Laura, who loves to read and travel, had planned to adopt for as long as she can remember, and it is something she talked about at school. She didn’t know whether she would adopt with someone or on her own, or whether she would have biological children too, but adoption was always her plan to become a mother when the time was right.

John, who is now two and a half, came to live with Laura and her gorgeous rescue cat, when he was six months old in 2020. 

Getting started

Laura heard about ARC Adoption after seeing an advert on Facebook highlighting an information event. At the time, she wasn’t ready to start the adoption process, but happened to see an advert for the second time, when the time was right, so she went along, not fully knowing what to expect. Talking about how she found it, Laura said:

“The two ladies I met were so lovely, they put me at ease immediately and answered questions I didn’t even realise I had. I liked that the support was there even after the adoption was final, from the family events to help people connect, to the more formal post adoption support. I didn’t feel any pressure to progress with ARC, but I had a good feeling about it and trusted that.”

Laura admits it was a little daunting to consider adopting as a single person, mainly being aware of certain challenges she could face alone – financially, emotionally and physically, but as a very independent person, and someone who was happy being on her own, it was the right decision for her.

Laura completed her registration of interest shortly afterwards and officially started the adoption process with ARC Adoption, finding the preparation well organised and informative. Talking about the preparation sessions as she progressed through the process, Laura commented:

“My sessions in stage two with my social worker were tough but fair, I felt like she had my best interests in mind from the start and her no-nonsense approach worked perfectly for me. She made a challenging, emotional process much more bearable.”

Meeting John for the first time

Once approved as an adopter, Laura read about John in a profile prepared by a local authority. As a very logical person, it was very important for Laura to know as much about him as possible, so that she was confident she could meet all of his needs, both then and what may be required in the future. After finding out more, Laura arranged to meet him:

“I knew how much I already cared about him before what I thought was our first meeting. I was so nervous – to meet a 6-month-old! It turned out there was some mis-communication and he wasn’t there that day, I was really disappointed, but it made it all the more special when I met him a few days later.”

Following that initial meeting, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, so Laura had to be content with seeing John only over video, until he came home to live with her forever. The adoption process for Laura took approximately eight months from starting the process, to her son coming home.

Challenging times

The pandemic also brought other challenges to Laura, as John came home to her just a few weeks into the first lockdown, and it impacted how friends and family could help and support her:

“People couldn’t meet him, hold him, or do the usual supportive things you would hope for (cooking / cleaning / holding him while I showered) and that definitely made things more difficult. Being completely alone during those first few months was hard but it was also very good for us to bond, just the two of us with nowhere to be other than together at home playing and bonding.

Also, some of the people I thought would be there haven’t unfortunately and I’ve been surprised by how others have stepped up. I’m not very good at asking for help, it’s something I’m working on for us both, so I would say having the right people around you, who don’t need to be asked is so important when adopting, especially when you’re single.”

I love him more and more every day

On asking Laura what the best thing has been since she became a mammy to John, she replied that there is not one big thing, but so many small joys:

“My son amazes me every day, he is so smart, caring and funny, he is curious and very aware of what is going on and how people are feeling. The look on his face when he is excited about something is guaranteed to make my heart burst every time. Seeing him laugh, grow and learn is a privilege that I do not take for granted, I love him more and more every day and feel so lucky that he lets me love him and be his mammy.”

Support from ARC

Since John came home, Laura has had ongoing support from her social worker helping with things such as birth family contact. Laura acknowledges it can be hard at times knowing that she is not John’s only mammy, and feels an empathy towards his birth mum that she wasn’t expecting. With that, she feels a lot of responsibility to make sure John understands his early life story and in supporting him in processing that as he grows.

Laura also enjoys the wider social and peer support which ARC’s Therapeutic Adoption Support Service team facilitates:

“The ongoing support was one of the reasons I was drawn to ARC in the first place. I feel like everyone has the adopter and children’s best interests at heart and I felt very supported throughout. The seasonal events the team arranges have given us a chance to meet some wonderful families and it is so important to me that my son always knows other little ones who were adopted and have shared stories.”

Advice for anyone considering adoption

Now two years down the line, we wanted to ask Laura with her experience whether she had any advice that she would like to share with anyone considering adoption or starting the process. These are things that Laura felt were important to highlight:

  1. Do your homework outside of prep training, there are so many great books on adoption (non-fiction and children’s fiction), including about the process, therapeutic parenting and attachment trauma. There is great community of adopters, birth parents and adult adoptee accounts on Instagram to learn from and get support from. The training from ARC will prepare you, but I wish I’d read more before little man came home – getting time to myself to read and learn is much more challenging now, but it is so important.
  2. Ask for help, and take it when it’s offered (most people won’t offer unless they really mean it).
  3. Check what financial support you’re entitled to while on adoption leave. I didn’t realise I could have had universal credit until I was returning to work, by which point it was too late to claim.
  4. I would definitely recommend any prospective adopters to gradually return to work if at all possible. A killer sleep regression and nursery bugs combined with starting back at work full time was one of the hardest experiences of my life. It was hard enough going from being together 24/7 to only getting a few hours a day together, but to be extremely sleep deprived and worried about performing at work too was incredibly hard.

Final thoughts

“I think a lot of people still believe adoption to be an easy route to parenthood, a ‘back-up plan’ when you can’t have ‘your own children’ (this is a big bug bear of mine – he is my child). This is very far from true. It’s a tough process (and rightly so), you’ll need to be very open and honest and discuss things with a near stranger that you’d rather not, facing things that make you uncomfortable. It’s all for the right reasons, being a parent is hard enough, but our children will have complex needs that might not be obvious at first.

Being prepared will mean those children will have the best chance at the future they deserve. The moment your little one says ‘mammy’ (or your version of that) and hugs you so tight it hurts, all the discomfort is forgotten and the difficult (and possibly long) process will have been worth it.”

Thank you so much to Laura for contributing this interview and allowing us to share her story.

If you are interested in finding out more about adoption, our team would be happy to have an informal chat with you – just click here to get in touch.  

*Laura’s son’s name has been changed in line with confidentiality