Jayne*, 39, and David*, 44, have been married for 11 years. They were the first couple to embrace Fostering to Adopt in Somerset – and are strong advocates of the initiative. The couple have kindly shared their experiences to encourage others to consider building their family through Fostering to Adopt. Read their story below…

David: “We always wanted children, but after 8 years of trying, including IVF, we decided we needed a change of scene, and that’s when we came to Somerset.”

Jayne: “It gave us time to think, ‘do we really want children, or do we want it to be just you and me?’ But soon enough we started thinking about adoption.

“I rang up Somerset County Council, who invited us to an information evening. We picked up the paperwork, filled it out, and returned it to them the next day.

“We just wanted to be parents. Initially we wanted to adopt siblings and create a family, as we’ve got plenty of space, and both our families are quite large. Siblings can be harder to find adopters for, but we had got four acres of land for just the two of us. Then everything changed…”

David: “Our social worker introduced us to the idea of Fostering to Adopt, and asked if we would be interested. She explained there were ups and downs, but that it was a positive option for a young child, and they wanted to do more of it in Somerset.”

Jayne: “While this was all going on, we decided to take a big holiday for our anniversary, as a last hoorah before everything changed.”

David: “A week before we were due to fly out, our social worker asked to visit with her colleague, to talk about a baby they were considering Fostering to Adopt arrangements for.”

Jayne: “The baby was due to be born while we were on holiday. Nothing was set in stone, so we decided to take the trip and of course thought about nothing else. When we came back, it was just a week until our Panel date, and we heard that the baby had been born, and the decision to Foster-to-Adopt him had been agreed.”

David: “It all now depended on us being approved by the Adoption Panel, and the court giving it the green light. So we went to Mothercare. I thought we would be able to walk up to the shelf with everything you might need – but there was one shelf just for bottles! It was a fun evening, even as our bank manager cried as we went through the tills!”

Jayne: “Panel was an emotional experience. When our social worker explained we were interested in Fostering to Adopt, one of the members was moved to tears – we so wanted to help a child, and if he ended up returning to his birth family, at least we will have given him a good start.”

David: “Things moved very quickly once we were approved. We learnt as we went along, which was fun and scary all at the same time. Shortly after meeting Ben’s* birth parents, we went to the hospital to see him for the first time, and met the doctors to find out what was going on.”

Jayne: “He was a very sick baby. At the time he had significant health needs and was having to be watched very carefully. We were allowed to take him home the following Monday. He was a very shaky little baby, and we had to hold him 24/7.

“There were four or five months of that, and we managed it together, by holding him and loving him.”

The next months was spent caring for Ben as their own; attending meetings with the birth parents, and waiting on tenterhooks for the court’s decision…

David: “I don’t think there was ever a time we thought we couldn’t do it. I’m not saying it was easy, but he was a baby. Some people who bring up their own children encounter more difficulties then we did. At times we felt unsure what the court might decide, and that uncertainty was tough.”

Jayne: “But we’d decided from the beginning that we were going to go all in, and be his parents, and give him the best we could give him. And if it then turned out he did have to return to his birth family, we would have to deal with his loss. But he would’ve had the best start possible.

“Then he became ours. He’s the most amazing boy, a cheeky little fun growing up boy. The doctors were amazed when we took him for his two year review, he’s just so bright; a normal little boy, full of life.”

David: “We’re now on track to do it a second time, because we can see the benefit so much. Yes, there is a chance that you could lose that baby, but you could keep it. An adult is better equipped to deal with that responsibility, for the sake of a child.”

Jayne: “They get a safe environment and a safe start in life, and hopefully what you put in in those first weeks and months stays with them.

“If you’re going for adoption, you must want to do the best for a child who isn’t able to live with their birth parents for whatever reason. It’s a chance to avoid the damage that could be done if a child experiences multiple moves, and the uncertainty that children can experience. Fostering to Adopt is the best of both worlds.”

Names have been changed to protect identities.

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