Nath is a French-speaking Belgian mom through adoption who is now living in South Africa with her family. We first met on Instagram but then I recently got the chance to meet her in real life when I joined a group of travel bloggers from #TravelChatSA on a day trip experience to Riebeek Kasteel.
Nath and her husband Vincent, own and manage a beautifully restored guest house called Merindol Manor and they hosted our group for a morning of good coffee and Belgian brunch treats – think home made Nutella, apple pie and the most delicious rice pudding you’ve ever tasted!
It was so good to chat to Nath in real life and hear more about her adoption story and why they’ve made this corner of South Africa their home and today you can listen in on the conversation too. You can also read more on Nath’s blog in either French or English: http://foinetescarpins.com. Thanks for sharing your story, Nath!
Hello, I am Nath, 44, mum of Elliot, 7.5 years and maried to Vincent. We moved in South Africa in November 2016, coming from Belgium. Vincent and I got married in South Africa 11 years ago and we adopted Elliot in South Africa in 2012. We moved from Belgium to manage Merindol Manor, a 4 stars Victorian guest house in the lovely Riebeek Valley.
Elliot loves playing soccer and play with his friends, Vincent is passionate about biking and the kitchen is my happy place for cooking and baking! I like to share lots of my Belgian recipe (and more) on my blog.
Did you always know that you wanted to adopt?
I wanted to adopt since the 30 September 1989… I was 15! I just fell in love with a 2 years little boy at a wedding in my family and decided that I wanted to adopt in Africa when I would be a grown-up! We adopted Elliot when we were still living in Belgium and the full process took 3 years.
What was the hardest part of the process?
In Belgium, you have no choice: you have to follow the governmental rules, attend ‘classes’ and have lots of meetings with psychologists and social workers for about a year. In Belgium, several organisations take care of the adoption process and we chose the one working with South Africa.
Honestly the hardest part of the process is the waiting period when our file has been sent to South Africa. Because during the preparation of your file, you are actor of your destiny. You make yourself easily available, you get all the requested documents quickly, you manage or you try to! But when your file is sent, you wait and…you wait! And there is nothing we can do! I worked for a big four company in the funds industry at the time so I focused on my job a lot and try not to think about our future child 1000 times a day…only 100 or 200 😉
What was your first night together as a family like?
I will remember all the first times with Elliot and the first night was quite hectic. We were all in a studio in Jobourg for 3 weeks, sleeping in the same room and our little one, who just turned two the day after we came back home with him had no wish to sleep in his cot alone….He used to have 24 little friends with him, in the same room at the children’s home so it was very quiet and strange for him. Going to bed has not been easy for years and we tried lots of different methods!
What is your funniest adoption-related family story?
A funny adoption related story was when Elliot and I were on holiday few days at the north sea in Belgium. We were coming back from the beach towards the flat we were renting and said hello to an old lady living in the building. She greeted us and say that my son was really looking like me! I say thank you, close the door, laugh a lot and re-open the door to tell her that she made my day! It was so sweet…Just because we are tall, Elliot and I.
Do you celebrate ‘adoption day’ with any traditions?
We do not celebrate adoption day in our family. Elliot’s birthday is on 3 December and we left the children’s home with him on the 2 December. We celebrate his birthday with his friends. In Belgium it was winter time but now that we are living in SA we can do pool party!
Advice for the screening process?
I do not have special advice regarding adoption in SA because I understood that it is quite different from Belgium. I will compare soon the 2 processes as we wish to adopt a second child.
How can friends and family best support those adopting?
Adoption, friends and family! Big subject! You have the super enthusiastic ones, supportive at 1000% who think it is great and that you will be super happy! You have the ones who do not understand you or are ‘against’ adoption because they heard very bad bad stories. And you have the ones who are there but do not show much interest….
So you choose to who you want to speak about it! I always encourage people to get all the information regarding adoption and I answer honestly if I am asked to but everyone should know that the full process is not a quiet path you take. Yourself and with your partner because you will be analysed so much, that you have to be strong and carry adoption deeply in your heart.
Top tip for doing life as a rainbow nation family?.
I am so lucky and proud to be the mother of this big boy! Some people does not approve it? Whatever! I do not care! I just want him to feel good in his body, in his family and in our new country South Africa.
And this is the magnificent Merindol Manor in the Riebeek Valley where this lovely family work and live. Isn’t it beautiful?