I met Debbie at the Arise Adoption Conference last year and heard some of her story then, but today she shares it all in this interview. Hats off to this Heart Mama of three young ones! Thanks for sharing your story, Debbie.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your family.
I am a single working Mom, to the three most gorgeous kids in the world! I’m a doctor in a government clinic, so life is pretty busy most of the time. My daughter is 5 and my twins are 3. They all came home to me in the space of three months almost three years ago. Two totally spoilt dogs make the complete picture!
Did you always know that you wanted to adopt?
My story is not quite the usual adoption story. I’d say yes, but perhaps I didn’t really fully have in mind how it would play out. I’d always assumed I’d get married, and my husband and I would have loads of space in our family for children not physically born to us, as well as biological kids. At the start of the journey, I didn’t even know that I necessarily wanted to adopt but I met my daughter when I was volunteering at a children’s home, and I just totally fell in love with her. The same with the twins. Unfortunately my daughter’s case still hasn’t been finalised (she is with me in foster care). As a Christian, I know that God brought this family together exactly as He planned it.
Did you use an agency or did you adopt through Child Welfare? What would you recommend?
I adopted through Child Welfare and had a really good experience with them.
What was the hardest part of the process?
The waiting! Firstly for my daughter, getting her case sorted out with social workers and courts and the endless meetings…it seemed to take forever. And then once she came home, I had to make sure she was settled before bringing home her brother and sister, which also felt like forever!!
What was your first night together as a family like?
It’s actually a bit of a blur! I was so thrilled to finally have all three of my children under one roof, officially and not just as a weekend visit. We had a low key supper and crashed early.
Can you tell us about your experience of attachment & family bonding between you and your kids and between the siblings?
To be honest, its been an unexpectedly hard part of the journey on my side. I have loved each of my kids from the start with an intense fierce love, but for ages I was their guardian, not their Mom, and it was hard to feel I was a Mom, and love them without that niggle of anxiety in the background of possibly losing them. My one child’s adoption is still not a reality, and my twins came home at the start of the waiting period after the advert was run (it was a very tense 90 day wait!) I only legally became their Mom 9 months after they came home. It didn’t affect our bonding, more something I was aware of on a deep level- I bonded very quickly with all my children. In fact, my first daughter bonded with me even before she came home! She accepted the twins into the family without any problems, and has adored them from day one. They run to her now as much as to me when they are upset and need a hug! The three of them are really close and have bonded completely to me and to each other (and also to our extended family who are all very supportive and adore my kids!).
What is your funniest adoption-related family story?
My twins were initially a bit developmentally delayed, and so they used to go for occupational therapy at the hospital where I was working. One day I took them in to the section where I worked to show them off to my colleagues. One of the nurses, who knew I already had the one child, saw me with the twins, and loudly said, ‘Haven’t you heard of birth control?!’ We all had a good laugh!
Do you celebrate ‘adoption day’ with any traditions?
No not really. I think because each child’s home-coming was a drawn out journey. I had hosted them all for weekends prior to them being fostered/adopted, and in fact, the twins court date was after they had been placed with me. We celebrate birthdays (even though they are court appointed dates), and life is one big celebration for us.
Advice for the screening process?
Don’t view it as a pass or fail test. It’s the process to match a child with you, and to highlight any issues that need to be dealt with beforehand. Bear with it, as the end result is worth it!
How can friends and family best support those adopting?
Be as excited as you would be for a pregnancy. And please don’t point out all the possible difficulties there could be down the line (we have thought through these things ourselves!) If it is part of your culture to throw a baby shower for an expectant mom, or to provide meals after a mom has a baby, do the same for an adoption.
Top tip for doing life as a rainbow nation family?
Get used to the fact that people will stare at you in public (maybe that was just especially true for me with having twins!) Accept that there will be those comments from strangers (are they real siblings?), and decide before hand to not let it get to you (I always just answer yes to that question) Enjoy each and every moment, as the kids grow up so fast.
- Family pics pics posted with permission.