Working together in Torbay

Steve shares his experience as an adopted adult

Councillor Steve Darling is the leader of Torbay Council. As a community leader, a Christian and adopted person, Steve approaches caring for vulnerable children from a number of different angles. We are thankful for his support, and we’re thankful that he’s shared a little of his story with us!

When I was eight, my family realised that I was visually impaired, and later at 18 years old I was registered blind. When my son was around five years old, doctors told us that there was a chance he could be impacted by the same visual impairment, so we began some genetic testing. That required us to look into my own birth family history a little, and this was a task that was layered with questions, curiosity and unknowns, because I was adopted in Birmingham as a baby.

It was my wife who did most of the online research, and she came across a birth-brother of mine. We began a conversation, and he shared with me that my birth mother lived a stone’s throw from my own home in Torquay.

I made connection with my birth mother, and have been building a relationship with her since. I’ve discovered that I have five sisters on my birth father’s side and two sisters and a brother on my birth mother’s side – I see these two sisters who live in Devon every few months now, and we have taken holidays together. My sister who is nearest to me in age loves camping and kayaking, and funnily enough, so do I! It’s fascinating to me that despite growing up in different families, we share the same interests.

We’ve had both mums for Christmas dinner over the years, and I have two mums to celebrate now on Mother’s Day. While I know it’s not the case for everyone, reconnecting with this part of my family has been a positive experience for me. I’m thankful for my parents who adopted me, who loved me, and who provided me with a firm foundation to build and explore my own world. It’s so important that children have that.

I came across Home for Good during a conversation with a church leader here in Torbay. As a person of faith myself, I truly believe that faith groups have huge potential to be part of the solution to tackling some of the challenges our society faces, particularly related to social justice. I believe that faith groups have the power to make a difference in the lives of children and young people who need somewhere safe to call home.

Every child in care comes from a unique background and will have their own unique story, interests and needs. Because of this, I think it’s so important that people from a variety of backgrounds step forward to explore fostering, adoption or supported lodgings – people of different races and nationalities, who speak different languages, who cook different kinds of food, working class people as well as middle class, people with different interests and skills, people who are part of different groups and communities, people of different church denominations and even different faiths. For these youngsters to have somebody in their life who has an understanding of their world is just so important. It helps them build their relationship with that care-giver, but it also helps them grow in their understanding of who they are.

Here in the Torbay there are churches full of people of different ages, relationship statuses, cultural and ethnic background and professions, all with a huge range of skills, qualities and care to offer. I’m excited to support Home for Good as we work to find a home for the children in our borough who need one!

Find out more about Home for Good's work in Torbay here.

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