My name is Claire, I met my wife Donna in May 2013 and we travelled to New York to get married in October 2016. From the early days of our relationship we both knew we wanted children, indeed this was one of the main reasons we decided to get married. The safety and security provided through marriage was something we had always wanted for any future family we would have.
When it came to making plans for growing our family, we discussed a number of options including fertility, however our hearts always came back to adoption. We knew we could provide a loving home for any child, however doing so for a child who needs one provided an extra incentive. Having made this decision we started trying to gather as much information about same sex couples and adoption in NI. We were not even sure we could adopt!
We attended information sessions at HEReNI and a number of Adoption UK events where we met different experts as well as other adopters at varying stages of the adoption process, including some same sex couples. Adoption can seem like a confusing process when you are new to it, however these sessions helped us to understand the complexities of it, and we even got our head around some of the legal terms!
We approached the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust to register our interest in August 2017. Our social worker came out to visit us within a few weeks to give us an overview of adoption, she was great and she really put our minds at rest. Despite being nervous about beginning this journey and apprehensive about being a same sex couple in the adoption world, our social worker put us at ease. Indeed, the relationship we have developed with our social worker has been increasingly important to us as we progressed throughout the process. We are so thankful for all the help, assistance and friendly advice she continues to provide.
Adoption is a long and sometimes difficult process. It took us approximately 16 months from our initial visit with our social worker to our approval at Adoption Panel which took place in December 2018. The formal assessment only lasted around 10 months of this – a lot of time is spent waiting. The time after approval can also be slow and sometimes painful, however the anticipation of matching and finally meeting your child helps to keep you moving forward.
We are still in this process almost two years later, however things are developing. We were approached about a match earlier in the year, but a few complications have resulted in a number of delays and we are now waiting on placement. We continue to engage with HEReNI and with the Adoption UK LGBT support group in NI, both of which have been sources of strength, knowledge and friendship for us throughout this process. We strongly recommend that anyone who is considering adoption as a means of starting and growing their family engages with these groups – having someone to talk to who understands and has been through the process is incredibly important, in particular as delays can become frustrating.
We would definitely recommend adoption to anyone considering it. It is a wonderful route into parenthood and despite the frustrations along the way, the benefits are too many to count. Having seen new families grow through this process has been a wonderful reward and the excitement and anticipation of what this means for us and our family grows every day.