As I’m sure many others will identify with, from a young age I had not only a desire, but also an assumption that one day I would become a parent.
There were many other life goals I remember having (and certainly the one about being Prime Minister remains unfulfilled) (but there's still time), but for me, being a mum was always the one that stood out and it fueled me when life got tough.
So when I met and married my wonderful husband in my early twenties, there was an excitement and a desire that one day we could make this dream a reality and have two or three, or maybe even four, children. How could it be otherwise?
However, when we started trying after a few years of being together, the months soon started to pass us by, and we were left with the growing realisation that maybe this wasn't going to be as easy as we had thought.
To put our minds at rest we visited the GP, believing that knowing it was all ok would mean we could relax a little and stop being quite so prescriptive in our project to become a family. But after some initial tests, a significant issue was detected and in a rather abrupt and unsympathetic manner we were told that we would never conceive.
We were utterly devastated. Further, more detailed tests followed, accompanied by an awful lot of heartache, until we were told by a prominent gynecologist that our odds of conception through IVF were just 1 in 125,000. Even though we knew it was hugely unlikely, we felt we needed to give it a chance – if nothing else, it meant we could finally close that door knowing we had tried.
The process of IVF was so much tougher than I ever could imagine, and we fully expected it to be the end of the road. But something miraculous happened. Against all the odds, our daughter Hope was born, and she lives up to her name on every level.
We are fully aware this is not everyone’s story, and to this day we will never stop being grateful for the opportunity to become parents in this way.
Our journey continued as we explored the possibility of Hope becoming a big sister. It was incredibly painful and I suffered two miscarriages, which broke us in every single way. But through what we knew would be our final round of IVF, we have the unexpected joy and blessing of our son Barnaby.
We thought about our family and what it could be and what it might become. We had room in our lives and our family to love someone else. Our dream of three children was still possible, because we knew it didn’t have to be about biology, and we also knew there were children who needed a home.
When Barney was four we started to approach adoption agencies and attended some information events. We took Hope and Barney along to as much as possible, and one memorable evening I remember the disappointment in them both that we wouldn't be able to take home a sibling that night. They were engaged and excited and to them it didn't matter at all if there new brother came from me or from somewhere else – he would be their brother.
The adoption process took a long time, but in hindsight this was perfect for many reasons. The main one being that we believe very strongly that our son was kept safe and well, despite what was happening around him, because so many people were praying for him. We finally saw his profile the day we were officially approved to adopt. We were sent a picture of a small boy in fancy dress, not looking very happy but looking VERY cute, and then we saw a film of a bright, funny, crazy little boy, and we knew this could well be our son.
A few weeks later and he was home with us and we were all starting the process of becoming a family of five.
I was sleep deprived and hit a wall of post-adoption depression. It was tough and lonely but somehow we muddled through.
Chris has now been with us for four years and is doing so much better than we ever thought possible. It can still be incredibly tough, there are uncertainties around his development and he is not always the most relaxed of children to be around, BUT he is loving and funny and caring and bright, and just, well… incredible. He is incredible.
We are still learning such a lot and now seeking a lot more help, something I wish we had done earlier on and definitely something I would recommend to all adoptive parents – don’t be afraid of asking for more help, and fight for it when you need it.
Parenting through adoption brings extra layers of care and concern, however there is also more reward and more joy than I ever thought possible.
All three of my children are my children, and I love being a mother to each of them.
After nine years of our roller-coaster journey, which has been both overwhelmingly wonderful and excruciatingly painful, we have three amazing, unique, and incredibly wanted children. All three are the result of perseverance and have been showered in prayer since before each was known to us.
Humanly, there are reasons why all three of them shouldn’t be here, and yet they are. It is a privilege to be their mother and I am so looking forward to what their lives are going to look like.
Anya works for Fertility Network UK, a charity that provides free and impartial support, advice and information for anyone affected by fertility issues. Please contact Anya if you would like to know more.