I had always assumed I would consider fostering or adoption when I was married with birth children, but just after my 40th birthday I attended an evening on radical hospitality, where the team talked about how age and singleness were not barriers.
Two months later, my sister rang me to tell me she was pregnant with my nephew. I cried hysterically. As I flew to Tokyo the next day for a holiday, I spent the flight praying – which is quite unlike me! I remembered the evening on radical hospitality, and spent most of my trip researching adoption. When I returned, I began the assessment process and the adoption team raised just one concern: my debt, worth over £40,000. Over a year I was able to significantly reduce it with the help of the debt advisors, my family, and a nearly a year of 60-hour weeks.
When I was approved, I enquired about six-year-old Joel who had been in care for two years. Introductions started in January 2015 and he was home by the end of the month. During the assessment and matching process, my Christian faith was seen as a positive - even by my atheist social worker. And as a single mum, Joel has definitely benefitted from being my main focus, especially in the early days. His confidence has blossomed.
I have been hugely blessed with practical help, with people coming to clean my carpets, paint Joel's bedroom and donate furniture. My connect group also gave us a year pass to Legoland! I started a WhatsApp group, adding friends, colleagues and non-Christians alike, to give regular updates and ask for prayer.
My church helped me to decide which service would be best to attend – Joel just needs somewhere big and noisy. I was given an amazing send-off which allowed me to share my news and feel that I was fully commissioned in prayer. One thing I would encourage the Church to do is to never underestimate the power of a ready-cooked casserole, new arrival cards and gifts. Celebrating adoption is less straightforward than celebrating a birth because the process is so gradual – but it is still important. New parents of older children can still be sleep-deprived and feel anxious about their ability to parent.
Joel and I have generally fitted well together and are very similar in many ways, especially in needing to have the last word in an argument. We have had some ups and downs but all is generally good. We are about to start applying for the adoption order. I feel a bit of a fraud – it’s way easier than I expected! It’s so covered in prayer: I feel like there are battalions behind me.