Welcome to the first post in the ‘Meet the Mama’ series. It’s so helpful to hear other people’s stories and today we hear from Mireille Porter about her family’s adoption story.
Tell us a bit about your family.
I met my husband while both studying at Medical School and we have been married for 7 years this year. Our biological son Joel was born in August 2012 and is tall and slender and as fair, blonde and blue eyed as they come. Joshua was born in March 2014 (making them a tight 18 months apart) and joined our family in July at just over 3 months old. Josh is big and strong and as dark and afro-haired as they come. They are an amazing pair – so similar in so many ways (mostly in volume levels and activeness and curiosity) – and get along playing together already.
Did you always know that you wanted to adopt?
Yes, since before I met my husband I was interested in adoption as a way of making/growing a family. I was involved in a Children’s home for several years and this together with experience of being a Doctor in South Africa exposed me to the reality of the magnitude of the crisis we have in our country and the reality of children growing up without families. My husband felt the same way before we were even married and it was I think just a question of when.
Did you use an agency or did you go through Child Welfare? What would you recommend?
We went through Procare- a private social work agency which facilitates adoptions. We found the process, although long and administratively tedious, a pleasure and would definitely recommend them.
What was the hardest part of the process?
Waiting for the phone call to say there was a baby for us. I used to say it felt like being engaged but you didn’t know when your wedding day was or who you were marrying but just knowing it would happen and it would be amazing! Full of excitement and anticipation but with so much uncertainty and the balance of being expectant and prepared with not going mad from waiting.
What was your first night together as a family like?
Our first night was so peaceful. Josh was so calm and didn’t “react” to all the changes around him. It felt like he, like us, was exhausted from all the excitement but while we were wide awake and buzzing he just wanted to be warm and cuddled and fed and put to sleep.
What is your funniest adoption-related family story?
Would have to be the comments my husband gets when he is alone with Josh. From congratulations of “I am just so proud you and your boyfriend decided to adopt” from strangers at coffee shops to “is this your baby?…The mother must be very dark if this is your baby” to which my husband replies “Well, her father is from the Congo” and they reply “Well, that makes sense then”. The hilarity of broken assumptions helps us keep grace for the less gentle remarks.
Do you celebrate ‘adoption day’ with any traditions?
We haven’t had our Gotcha day type celebration yet as Josh has only been with us for a few months but feel we will make it a day about our family as it marks the day our family became what we are today.
Advice for the screening process?
Celebrate every milestone like it was a month or trimester of pregnancy. Enjoy it, bask in the glow of expectancy and acknowledge that somewhere out there there is a baby growing- let yourself be excited – parenting is full of fears but we cannot let them distract us for one second from the joy of anticipation.
How can friends and family best support those adopting?
Celebrate with us! Use the traditional pregnancy type shower/ shopping/ Christmas stocking for expectant baby things and then add creativity – be expectant with them! Oh and stop asking them if they have gotten the call – they will tell you when they do!
Top tip for doing life as a rainbow nation family?
Not always easy but surround yourself with people who are different from you – that look different, that are from different places, that have different family stories – break any perceptions of what “normal” is, what a “normal family” is – make your own normal – the new normal. Don’t ignore that your child’s story might be different to others around him or your other children – help them grow and explore that part of their identity, giving them pride and strength in who they are – if you don’t help them form their identity then the harsh words of bullies or social silliness might.