Adopting a baby during a pandemic - what's it really like?
Lucy and Adam took their adopted baby boy home for the first time on 17 January this year, just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the UK. We spoke to Lucy to find out more...
Adoption wasn’t always on the cards for us but a complication during my first delivery meant that I couldn’t go through childbirth again. It was a struggle to get used to the idea that our family wouldn’t look the way we’d always imagined it. Both my husband and I have brothers and sisters – Adam’s brother is only 15 months younger so they were really close growing up and it was hard to imagine our daughter Summer not having the support system around her that my brother and sister give me now as adults.
Once we’d made an enquiry, things moved really quickly
We did get used to it though and we were very happy but every now and again Adam and I would check in with each other and see how we were feeling about it. In December 2018 Adam said he wanted to consider adoption and so we did. We spent a while getting used to the idea and looking into our options online. By Spring 2019 we felt ready to take the next step and we went to an information evening with Birmingham Children’s Trust.
We were so impressed by the event and how much we learned. Our perception of adoption really changed that night and we started to get really excited but it still took us a couple of weeks to decide that we were really definitely going to go for it.
Once we’d made an enquiry, things moved really quickly. We submitted the enquiry on a Tuesday and we had a home visit that Friday!
We were so excited that those three months felt like a lifetime!
We’d started our training within weeks and that really helped us to understand adoption from the child’s point of view as well as our own. We also learned, or so we thought, that we were more likely to adopt a child around the age of three or four. To us, that was great! With Adam being so close in age with his brother, he was happy to think that Summer would have a brother or sister she could play with and who’d have the same interests. That’s not quite how things worked out though and of course, we wouldn’t change that for the world!
We were approved for adoption in September 2019 and Jack was matched with our family in October 2019. He was just six months old when we first heard about him and nine months old by the time we bought him home for good. Looking back, I can see that it moved quickly but we were so excited that those three months felt like a lifetime!
Becoming a family of four
Jack came home with us in January 2020, just as Coronavirus was making the news as a new illness in China for the first time. All we cared about was settling Jack into our family and making both him and Summer feel as loved as possible.
Jack just slotted right in, like he’d always belonged. There were long nights of course, he was only nine months old and it was hard to settle him sometimes. I was poorly about two weeks in, I had a cough for at least a month, and I was tired all the time and I felt guilty about feeling like that. Our social worker had warned us that we might feel like that though, babies are exhausting no matter how they come into your family!
Jack’s foster carer, Tessa, was a great help. She met up with us, at home and in a café. She was already fostering a new little boy/girl and we were able to have good natter. It really helped us to get to know someone that knew Jack so well, and loved him so much, in those early days.
It has been wonderful to have a baby in our family again
Then the pandemic really struck, and we’ve not been able to meet up since. We do stay in touch though, I’m always sending her videos of Jack. She is part of his story and we want him to know just how many people have loved and cared for him – we have a photo of Tessa framed in his bedroom so she remains someone special in his life.
Staying in touch with birth mum
A lot of people are worried about this when they adopt but Jacks birth Mum is important to us too, so Jack understands his story when he grows up.
Everyone’s situation is a bit different but for us it means that we’ll write her a letter once a year that gets passed on to her through the team at Birmingham Children’s Trust, she can write to us too. We’ve just written our first letter to her which was quite cathartic. We hope she can see just how loved he is.
COVID-19 with a new baby
Lockdown was hard on everyone, but I think it was especially hard on young families. It’s been tough for us being physically cut off from our support network and it’s been hard to know how Summer is feeling about Jack. Some of her behaviour has been unusual recently but it’s so hard to know if it’s because of lockdown, because she’s missing her friends and sick of being stuck indoors or because she is adjusting to life now she isn’t an only child. It’s probably both!
Letting go of the adoption leave I had imagined was hard too – there have been no coffee dates or baby music groups. I wouldn’t miss out on these precious months with Jack though, it has been wonderful to have a baby in our family again.
If I could change anything, I’d just tell myself not to be so hard on myself. When I look back on the first six months of this year and I can’t believe how far we’ve come as a family. I’m just so thankful for all the support of my family, friends and the social workers – we couldn’t have done it without them.
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