Thandi and I started chatting through this blog a few months ago – she was exploring adoption options in Cape Town and had lots of questions! Fast forward a few short months and Thandi has her baby girl home with her and is planning to repeat the whole process again soon – brave mama! Thank you for sharing your beautiful story with us, Thandi.
Tell us a bit about your family.
We’re a family of 5 at the moment, with another adoption planned in the next few months. Homeschool mom, hands-on dad, 9 yearold biological son, 9 year old biological daughter and one adorable 6 month old adopted girl.
Did you always know that you wanted to adopt?
Oh yes. Well, I did! From age 10 it was on my heart. But my husband needed to meet the right woman first, ha ha ha. He was convinced he’d have no children until I came along and used my feminine charm to open his eyes to the joys of parenting. Once he decided we should indeed marry AND have children, he was the first to suggest adoption. So the plan was one adopted and one biological.
Did you use an agency or did you go through Child Welfare? What would you recommend?
We went through an Agency based here in the Western Cape that also has branches in Gauteng. We’d heard horror stories about no adoptions being processed through Child Welfare and after they didn’t ever respond to my first email (responded a year later to say adoptions are open) we had no choice but to go with an agency.
What was the hardest part of the process?
The hardest part was the waiting! I love filling in forms. Well, except for financial information. That’s just boring. But answering questions about ourselves, going through the information sessions, the interviews was not a problem. When I say waiting, I mean waiting between appointments! I just wanted it all over and done with so I could say I was officially waiting for my daughter, not waiting for another appointment.
What was your first night together as a family like?
Our first night was actually quite boring. We had decided to put her in our bedroom so we wouldn’t miss any slight noise and so she could get used to our presence. We all slept-and woke when she needed to feed-and slept again. I had thought I’d be too in awe to sleep. Thought wrong!
What is your funniest adoption-related family story?
Nothing really super funny like what others have said in the past, just little giggles here and there. We live in a small town so when people suddenly saw me with a baby they kept wondering if it had really been that long since they had last seen me seeing as they’d obviously missed seeing me with a baby bump.
Do you celebrate ‘adoption day’ with any traditions?
We’re yet to have one. Our princess has only been home for 3 months but I don’t think we’d really do anything except recount the story to her and remind her of how wanted and loved she was and how happy we all were to have her become our daughter.
Advice for the screening process?
Join support groups and be honest.
How can friends and family best support those adopting?
Ooh, for me, the best support was it being treated like a normal event. The same things should be said and same actions performed as if one were pregnant. I happened to mention on an adoption wall on Facebook that I’d never had a shower, and they organised one. Strangers I’d never met! And that made it seem so real. We were expecting a baby! Showers, asking the parents if they’re excited or nervous, anything that makes it seem natural and not weird would be helpful. And also cooking for them in that first week or two would be great. Though I’d had two children, I forgot how establishing a routine takes some time. Plus honestly, I was too in-love with her to remember how to get all my chores and cooking done. My mind was all over the place with just wanting to cuddle with her and her siblings.
Top tip for doing life as a rainbow nation family?
Well, we blend in, though for trained eyes like ours, you can tell that our daughter is Xhosa. (The rest of us are of very mixed parentage) But what I can say is based on experience. I’m a child who grew up speaking mostly English and hearing Xhosa and Sotho spoken by each parent. I would say that if you can, let your African child learn the dominant African language where they are. When Africans talk to them, assuming they understand, and realise they don’t, it gets ugly sometimes. It really would be helpful for them to be able to competently understand and speak one.