Helen and Andrew adopted siblings

Helen and Andrew had been through several years of fertility treatment without success and, still wanting a family, they looked to adoption.

Helen said: “We did attend a local authority information event but it felt a bit grim and wasn’t a positive experience. Close friends had adopted through PACT and recommended we approach them.”

Helen and Andrew approached PACT in June 2008 and were approved 10 months later. They were matched with Nathan and Jacob in July 2009, and they came to live with them three months later when Nathan was almost seven and Jacob had just turned three.

Helen described meeting the boys for the first time as “Exciting and terrifying”. She said: “PACT prepared us for an emotional rollercoaster and we definitely got that, it was a mix of emotions really. We expected them to be reserved but they were so excited, Nathan called us Mummy and Daddy from the word go. I’d say to someone else in that situation, be prepared for anything and go with the flow!”

Helen and Andrew were always looking for siblings, Helen said: “Being slightly older ourselves, in our mid 40s, we were realistically looking for slightly older children.”

Helen doesn’t believe that the possibility of children over four should put others off adoption. She said: “If they are older you have a better understanding of their needs and development.

“Their social workers know more about their background and future needs, with younger children you don’t know what you’re getting in later life, so you’re not as prepared. With older children you can also interact from day one.”

Helen and Andrew found the first few weeks and months exhausting and hard work. Helen said: “We were playing and building attachments. I felt like a children’s entertainer!”

Six years on life is good. Helen said: “I can’t remember life without them. We were very lucky to have two lively boys. They are doing well socially and academically, they get invited to parties, they love sports and are always on the go; life is hectic! They’re kind and loving and people say to me ‘what lovely boys’ which makes me so proud. They do struggle with emotions though, especially at school. They are confident boys, Jacob is more affectionate and gives me lots of hugs and tells me that he loves me most days. He loves singing and performing in school plays. Nathan is more reserved but very kind and caring. They have another brother who is younger and also adopted, we meet up with him and his family two or three times a year.”

The family have had some support from PACT’s award winning Family and Children Therapeutic Support (FACTS) service. Nathan had some life story work sessions to help him understand where he came from. Helen has also taken part in PACT’s 12 week parenting course.

Helen said: “Adoption is hard work but it changed our lives for the better, we’re now a family which is what we wanted, there is of course sibling rivalry, especially with boys but there’s more ups than downs.”

Helen has some good advice for anyone beginning the process: “Accept all the help you can get, PACT are always there, especially in the early days. Don’t be frightened about accepting support. Preparation Groups may not feel relevant at the time, but when you get into it you put it all into practice. Have a good support network for when you need to offload.”