Heart Mama Brenda is an Attorney and Conveyancer and lives in Bloubergstrand with her husband Clive and their 14 month old son, Tyrael. Tyrael joined the family in December and has been keeping them on their toes ever since! Thanks you for sharing your story, Brenda!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your family
I come from a large and close family – one of six children. My husband is one of three children and also has a strong family bond. We also have 5 furkids – 3 canine and 2 feline. They cuddle and love us and share our home, hearts and beds. Our family now has 8 mouths to feed!
Did you always know that you wanted to adopt?
When I discovered at age 18 that I could not have kids due to a genetic condition, I always knew I still wanted to have a family and be a mom. My husband knew about my condition from when we were dating and was open to adoption in our future.
Did you use an agency or did you adopt through Child Welfare? What would you recommend?
We did investigate an agency and they are in our experience very professional and take care of the admin worries, but we were blessed with the guidance of a wonderful social worker from a Children’s home who helped us with the process through Child Welfare.
What was the hardest part of the process?
The extended waiting, and the complete honesty required in filling out the adoption forms. Also the process is not as predictable as pregnancy… People around you ask lots of questions because the process is unfamiliar to them.
What was your first night together as a family like?
To be honest it was quite pleasant with no trauma at all! Up to 6 months Tyrael had been at a Children’s Home and he was in a wonderful routine and slept really well. He responded to a darkened room with ambient music very well. He had also been used to sleeping in his own cot.
We were amazed that despite holding onto us and really wanting physical contact, he did not seem stressed and adjusted well to new surroundings.
What is your funniest adoption-related family story?
I am the oldest sibling and we had been married 10 years already when we got the call that our son was ready to meet us. My younger brother and sister in law were expecting their son and the first grandchild in the family. The Sunday before we got the call about our son, I attended my sister in law’s baby shower and happened to chat to some of the guests about how I would need to get ready quickly without a more definite time frame. Before my nephew was born his cousin had already come home!
Do you celebrate ‘adoption day’ with any traditions?
We have just got our adoption order (best day of my life second only to my wedding day) and we are going to have a ‘welcome to the clan’ ceremony where we dress him in the family tartan and mark his entrance as a Munro. We have yet to decide if this will be an annual thing.
Advice for the screening process?
Possibly just to be as authentic as possible. You will be raw and vulnerable as third parties assess you, your home and circumstances. Preparation mentally and emotionally as well as physically will make you great parents. Try to prepare yourself for having a child much the same as a pregnant couple would. Keep your hearts open to the process because it is so worth it! Believe in magic!!
How can friends and family best support those adopting?
The best thing is to accept the child as you would a biological child of the couple. Don’t over think it or you will appear fake – treat this as their real child, because it is!
Adoptive parents have the same challenges as biological parents and also may have some emotional scars and trauma to work through. Be gentle and try to communicate with them to establish what they need at the time as you would with any new parents. Do throw a baby shower and express your support – it will mean the world to them.
Top tip for doing life as a rainbow nation family?
You have to have a thick skin and don’t react negatively to people who are not as familiar with it as you are! People will notice that you are a mixed race family. I was rocking my little boy to sleep in a baby carrier strapped on to me in a restaurant and an African man (from central or Northern Africa with a very dark skin) asked me where the baby’s mother is! Sometimes you just have to laugh!