This story is an extra special one for me. My hope for this blog has been to design a space to pop adoption onto prospective parents’ radars and to create a platform for adoptive parents to share their stories. Sometimes all it takes to encourage those who may already have adoption at the back (or front) of their minds to take that next step, is share with them that there is a wide community of like minded people out there!
Today we meet Nancy and her husband Dean, who adopted little Daniel when he was 4 months old. I met Nancy on Instagram and love the pics that she shares of her little one – yay social media! The Barber family story is a beautiful illustation of how God is always in charge and how He cares about the smallest details of our stories.
Tell us a bit about your family
My husband, Dean, and I have been married for 7 years. Dean is a Primary School teacher. I am a speech-language therapist with a passion for working with adults with neurogenic disorders. Dean is from Natal and I am from Johannesburg. We currently live in Jhb. We have a beautiful, happy baby boy, Daniel, who is now 11 months old. He joined our family in May 2016 when he was 4 and a half months old. We enjoy road running and have already indoctrinated Daniel into the world of running by letting him watch the winner of Comrades cross the finish line. He has also watched the Soweto Marathon with Granny and Pops while we ran it.
Did you always know that you wanted to adopt?
I had desires in my teenage years to adopt and in Dean’s early twenties he also had desires to adopt. Dean and I started discussing adoption from when we were engaged. Over the years of our marriage, the discussion of adoption has occurred numerous times. In 2015 we started talking a lot more seriously about having biological children but also our desire to adopt. We were trying to decide if we needed to have a biological child first or if we should adopt first. In our researching we came across the HeartMama blog and when I read Jules and her husband’s story, it was like an instant awakening in my heart that adoption can be a first choice. I was so excited that I shared this with Dean and through prayerful consideration, we knew that this is what God wanted for our family- adoption as a first choice. It was so liberating to not feel the pressure of trying to justify and decide between a biological or an adopted child and that adoption can be a first choice for growing a family. We have chosen not to pursue biological children because of the love and conviction God has put in our hearts for adoption.
After making the decision, Dean and I were unsure as to the next step to actually adopt as there were so many different agencies when we googled. At a friend’s birthday in September 2015, we were introduced to an amazing couple who were going through the adoption process and were about to do the preparation course. They were instrumental is helping us decide on the agency we went through. They were also so supportive in explaining the process and sharing their heart for adoption with us. We then started the process in November 2015 with the orientation session and it was cemented in our hearts that adoption was the first choice for our family. It was amazing how God put the right people in our path to help us on our journey of adopting. What was also so special is that we always wanted to name our son Daniel and we had not told anyone this (not even family members) so when our social worker phoned us with THE call and told us our little boy’s name was Daniel, it was just another huge confirmation from God that He wanted our little boy to be a part of our family. The way God has been in the details of the adoption has been amazing!
Did you use an agency or did you go through Child Welfare? What would you recommend?
We went through an agency. They are a very ethical agency so we felt we could trust them in the process and believed they had the best interest of the baby/child at heart. Going through the agency and working with the social worker was like having a pregnancy and each interview and discussion time was like having an ultrasound and gave us a lot of food for thought. It grew our marriage and our hearts for the arrival of our precious boy.
What was the hardest part of the process?
Waiting for all the government documentation was frustrating at times but we have found the hardest part of the process was the first few months of having Daniel as part of our family. What has been challenging is trying to convey to society in general that we are not saviours who need a “well done” as well as the subtle racism that can be directed towards a transracial family. It has been eye opening and has challenged us as well.
What was your first night together as a family like?
Daniel is and has been such an easy, happy, content baby so our first night was peaceful and it felt normal for him to be part of our family. Waking up the next morning and realizing that this little human was our son was so exciting.
Do you celebrate ‘adoption day’ with any traditions?
We are going to give Daniel the choice as he gets older if and how he would like to celebrate the day that he joined our family.
Advice for the screening process?
Just be yourself and be very open with your social worker. Also acknowledge that the government aspects of the process are going to take time and require you or your spouse to make numerous phone calls and visits to government departments. Accepting this made following up on documents etc feel a bit “easier”.
How can friends and family best support those adopting?
Treat it like a pregnancy- ask how the sessions are going, be interested in the process just like one would for the process of pregnancy, do a baby shower, offer meals for after the baby arrives. All those things make a huge difference for the family adopting. Only don’t ask frequently if you have the government forms you require 😉 haha.
Top tip for doing life as a rainbow nation family?
Embrace it and allow you and your spouse and your family the space to discuss the hard topics and have your own world views and prejudices challenged and changed. Also accept that every time you leave the house your family is on show (many people stare, comment, want to touch or hold him) and be proud of your beautiful family!