A reader shares her and her husband Jeremy’s journey of adoption and what it showed them about the heart of God
I’m motherly by nature, and the desire to have a child of my own was always deep and pervasive; I identified as being a mum long before I became one. But in the early years of our marriage I miscarried 14 times and had three failed rounds of IVF. We held on to hope, but the whole experience was utterly devastating and heartbreaking for both of us. It was always at ten weeks that I would start to bleed. It seemed that I was unable to carry a pregnancy longer than this, but doctors couldn’t identify why.
We prayed a lot through that season. Clinging to God, but also wrestling with so much. I knew God heard me and loved me, but I felt so forgotten. I knew these experiences weren’t because of anything I had done – I wasn’t being punished – but it felt so brutal at times.
The call to adoption
For the next year we took a break from it all – as much as you can when something constantly weighs on your heart. We moved to Somerset, inhabiting a new landscape and trusting that with the new view would come fresh vision and a renewed experience of God’s gentleness and presence. It was here, in this new space, physically and spiritually, that we began to think about adoption. It was very clear that God was nudging us, with so many little coincidences that were full of his Spirit.
We knew we needed to be all in when it came to adoption. This couldn’t be an ‘end of the line’ option we were taking simply because we had been unable to have children ourselves – although, of course, so much of our journey of desiring a family is intertwined with this. Adoption had to be something we felt specifically called to. As we continued to pray and research, God’s gentle prompting resulted in a deep sense of peace that this is what he wanted us to do.
Shouldering the risks
We got in touch with our local council and started the process, which ironically took nine months! During this time we were asked whether we would consider a new approach to adoption called Early Permanence, which was being championed by the adoption support agency Coram. Adopting in this way would essentially involve fostering a baby while their case went through court (a process that can take years) and committing to adopt the child if the birth parents were denied custody.
Adoption had to be something we felt specifically called to
Early Permanence had yet to be trialled by our local social services, but we agreed to be their guinea pigs. Adopting through Early Permanence would mean that we would shoulder the risks. Rather than the child staying in care while their case was discussed, and potentially moving between multiple foster homes, they would have a consistent home from their early days and ultimately either stay with us or return to their birth parents, depending on how the court ruled.
The day after we were approved as adoptive parents we had a call from our social worker. A little boy had been born. “Would you consider taking him in?” she asked. He was addicted to heroin; one of the worst cases of drug addiction in a baby the hospital in Taunton said it had ever seen. But there was nothing for us to consider, and we answered with a unified: “Yes!”
I held him in my arms the next day. I cannot describe the magnitude of that moment! How my whole body rejoiced and ached to have this tiny, fragile child in my arms. It seemed no coincidence that this day happened to be my birthday – for years when Jeremy asked me what I wanted for my birthday I’d said (half joking, half serious), a baby. And on that birthday I held the most wonderful gift from God. We named him William.
In some senses I’d been preparing for years for this moment, but practically we had just a week to get things sorted. It all happened so fast, yet we felt steady and at peace. William was so poorly we had to hold him 24/7 – it was exhausting but we gave ourselves over to prayer as we nursed him through his withdrawal. There was no guarantee that he would be ours forever, but we leaned into God’s reassurance and peace until, eventually, after fourteen months of court proceedings, the judge decided adoption was the way forward.
Holding on to Hope
Adopting William had been such a whirlwind, so when we decided we wanted to adopt again and months went past without ‘The Call’ from our social worker, I began to give up hope of having another child. I was tired of the feelings of longing and uncertainty that had marked so much of our married life, so after a year of waiting we decided to nestle in to being a family of three and rejoice in what God had given us.
Just as we’d resolved to come off the adoption register our social worker called to say a baby girl had been born and asked if we’d take her in. Catching us off guard, we hesitated for a moment. “Oh, by the way,” she continued, “her name is Hope.” Hope. We knew God was in this.
We met Hope when she was in intensive care – recovering from heroin addiction passed on from her birth mother – and within the week, we had her home with us.
We came to know Hope’s birth parents quite well. They turned up to all formal contact times and I became quite attached to Hope’s birth mother. Encouraged as I was that they seemed to be trying their hardest, I was also fearful that we would lose Hope. I didn’t know at the time that they were being investigated for abusing Hope’s older brothers, which they were later convicted of, losing all custody rights. I became very emotionally entangled; feelings of utter joy at adopting Hope sat alongside the exhaustion and disappointment of the journey we’d been on with her parents.
The heart of God
Hope was eight months old when our social worker knocked on our door to say that William’s birth mum was pregnant again and would we consider adopting his half-sibling. Honestly, I didn’t know if I could go through it all again but I also knew, deep down, we’d say yes.
I remember listening to a song called ‘You’re gonna be OK’ and the lyrics resonating with my soul. God’s Spirit lifted me and when Emily came into our lives a month later, she was the answer to a prayer we didn’t know we’d prayed.
This journey has been so hard, but it has been worth every moment. This is God’s heart. Each of our children’s story is the same as the one God speaks over me. He met me in my brokenness, held me and healed me from my darkness, and adopted me into his heavenly family.
William is now seven, Hope is four and Emily is three and our family is complete…I think!
If you are interested in adoption, Home for Good is a Christian charity that works to mobilise the Church in the UK to respond to the needs of vulnerable children through families stepping forward to foster, adopt or provide supported lodgings for teenagers. See homeforgood.org.uk for more information
The steps to adoption
If you are considering adoption, here is a basic overview of the process.
Reach out to your regional adoption agency (RAA) or a voluntary adoption agency (VAA). They will provide you with more information and may offer a visit from a social worker so you can discuss more in person.
Fill out an in-depth application form, which will require a range of information about you and your family, and provide details of three or four referees. Before you can be assessed, you will need to have a medical and attend initial preparation training.
A social worker will visit you at home to discuss a variety of subjects and chat with your other family members. Through this they will assess your suitability to care for children and whether you have sufficient support in place.
Your report will be sent to an adoption panel who will consider your suitability for adoption.
The matching process will help find the child or children that you are best able to support. Once a match is identified it will be presented to another adoption panel for approval.
Did you know…
• In the UK, a child comes into care every 15 minutes.
• According to latest figures there are 1,800 children in England waiting to be matched with an adoptive family.*
• 52 per cent of children waiting for an adoptive family have already been waiting at least 18 months.*
• Children aged over five years old, male, from an ethnic minority background, with a disability or in a sibling group are less likely to be adopted