Mark's story

Mark shares his story of being a dad through birth, adoption and fostering.

Over the last few years, our family has changed from being quite conventional, with mum, dad and a grown-up daughter, to one that most people would say is quite unusual – to say the least! We now have two daughters 19.5 years apart in age (I’m told it’s important that they are not 20 years apart).

Our birth daughter is now 24, our adopted daughter is five, and we are fostering again. Our twelve-year-old foster son has been with us for the last couple of years.

We had vaguely talked about fostering at times over the years, but I had always thought I couldn’t do it. Then at Spring Harvest, the Holy Spirit came to us in a way I had never known before. My wife was left with the word ‘fostering’ embedded on her mind, and as soon as she shared with me as we left the meeting, I knew this was what God wanted us to do.

We went to a seminar Krish and Miriam Kandiah were running that evening about fostering (before Home for Good even became Home for Good), and although there have been challenges on the way, I can honestly say that I have never doubted that we were following God’s plan for our family.

A few weeks later our adopted daughter was born, and when we went back to Spring Harvest the following year, we were waiting to be approved as foster carers. Once we were approved, she was the first child mentioned as a possibility to come to us, and although there were numerous changes of plan along the way, a few weeks later she moved in with us as a timid, insecure thirteen-month-old.

I completely fell in love with this little girl.

We certainly had no intention to adopt at the start, but as her future plans were taking shape we felt it was right for her and for us. We were both unsure whether we were too old, or whether those making the decisions would think we were, but the day after Spring Harvest the following year, we were approved at panel as her adoptive parents. Our birth daughter, in her twenties, was able to tell people she was no longer an only child!

I had heard people say that you could love an adopted child just as much as a birth child, but I don’t think I really believed it until I experienced it. I can honestly say that I could not love either of my girls more, and certainly couldn’t say I loved one more than the other.

Obviously, my relationship with a grown-up daughter who no longer lives at home is very different to that with a little girl in her first year at school, but I love them both massively. (I also love my foster son massively too, but being a boy, and being nearly a teenager, he might not want me to tell everybody that!)

The only real difference I can think of about being an adoptive dad is being prepared to talk to my daughter about her story whenever she wants to – the other day I found myself having a slightly bizarre conversation with her at 6am about when she used to live with her birth parents, but that’s what she needed in that moment.

I don’t want to sound like they are super, perfect children. Of course, all three of them have moments when they drive me mad, and I know it sounds corny, but I really enjoy the relationships I have with all the children.

They’re all so different, and we all have different things we enjoy together.

Having a foster son to watch football with is a great new experience, as neither of my girls have been interested in that. I can’t deny that we certainly enjoy our ‘man time’. I also love being able to read bedtime stories again with my five-year-old, some of which I remember word for word from when my elder daughter was young.

I really love watching the relationships between the children blossom too. Thankfully, given they live at home together, our adopted daughter and foster son get on really well, she idolises him and he is really patient with her, though of course they have times when they get cross with each other like any other siblings.

The girls love each very much too, with the little one often going for sleepovers at her big sister’s flat. One of my favourite memories is going to collect my eldest from the airport after a couple of months away, and the moment they saw each, both girls dropped everything and ran through arrivals for a great big hug.

It’s great to be able to do things as a whole family, but it’s also great to do fun things with one of the children at a time.

Obviously, there are challenges with both fostering and adopting, and I certainly wouldn’t want to pretend everything is easy.

At times, I have felt very much out of my depth, but the rewarding feeling of watching the children get more comfortable and more secure in our family is worth the hard times. We have also had great support from our extended families and from our church family, and both our adopted daughter and foster son have settled into both and enjoy spending time with our friends and family.

Looking to the future, I don’t think our desires for our children are much different to any other parents.

We want them to be happy and healthy. We want them all to know that they can turn to us for advice and support whenever they need us. And I hope they will be there for each other too, even when they are all grown up and living their own lives.

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