Olivia's adoption journey
Olivia has been looking after Danielle for a year now. Their Adoption Order was completed a few months ago.
Olivia says, “Danielle was getting her hair braided the other day, and she was calling ‘Mum, Mum’. Someone said, ‘Your daughter’s calling you,’ and I looked over. It’s a surprise when one day you’re the mother of a five-year old and she’s calling you ‘Mum’.
“That’s not something I could have imagined a few years ago.
“I had always wanted children but the right relationship just never happened. I thought being single might be a barrier to adopting but found that the real sticking point was that the children in the care system were from a different ethnic background.
“It wasn’t that I was a single mother looking to adopt, it was because I was white that I wasn’t seen to be suitable.
Prepare for take off
“After months of searching, somebody recommended I try Coram. They were so helpful and positive, and progress was fast.
“The assessment took about six months. They asked me how I would reflect Danielle’s heritage but I live in a very diverse area and the school Danielle attends is also diverse. She also has dolls that are all different colours; little things like this help her not to feel different.
Two steps forward...
“I had a lot of support before and after the adoption was in place. Danielle and I had therapy sessions and I also attended a 12-week parenting course. My social worker reassured me that she was always just a phone call away.
“The first night Danielle slept over, she was extremely sick. I was so worried I rang the social worker late at night. She answered, and reassured me just to give her some Calpol and put her to bed.
And one step back...
“I also called on my social worker when behavioural problems surfaced later down the line.
“Danielle would get aggressive and hit me. She would bang on the door if I tried to keep her in the room to calm down and I was worried she’d hurt herself.
“It took time to break the pattern, and put an end to her violent behaviour. Danielle was experiencing powerful emotions that she couldn’t recognise. Like missing her foster carers, but not having the words to say it.
“I encouraged her to talk about her feelings and praised her positive behaviours and things improved.
All systems go
“It has been such a massive journey. But now Danielle is doing well at school and goes to ballet lessons and swimming classes.
“My experience is the opposite of what many adoptive parents go through. Danielle is older, she’s mixed race, and it all happened quite quickly.”
Case studies are real but names are changed and models used to protect confidentiality