Parents And Children Together (PACT) is calling for people to consider adopting a child with additional needs.
PACT offers outstanding Ofsted rated adoption services to families across the South East. Last year it placed 87 children with 62 families through its adoption services. There are currently more than 2,000 children waiting to be adopted in England.
PACT is particularly looking for couples or individuals, including those from the LGBT community, who can consider adopting children who have additional needs, including a physical or learning disability.
Nicola* and her husband Mike* adopted Amelia*, who has cerebral palsy, when she was 18 months old through PACT. The couple already had a birth son who was four years old when they first approached PACT in 2014.
Nicola said: “Our birth son was the result of seven years of IVF and we did not feel we were able to go through that process again. We also felt our family was not complete, so we decided to adopt. We approached PACT as we had attended some of their local events and felt the ethos and approach matched ours.”
The couple, whose circumstances meant their adoption journey was more complicated than some, spent three years of preparation and waiting until they met their daughter.
Nicola said: “The endless paperwork seemed so removed from a living, breathing child and truthfully we struggled to see a light at the end of the tunnel. However, we knew there was a child out there for us, so we persisted.
“The wonderful matching team at PACT were there for us throughout the process, reassuring us it was about the right child and not just any child. And, of course, they were right. We were eventually matched with a child that put us well out of our comfort zone, but who is the most loving, sweetest addition to our family.”
Nicola said their decision to be matched with a disabled child was followed by hours of worrying about whether they had the capacity to raise a child who would spend her life in a wheelchair. But she said that as soon as they met Amelia they knew it was the right decision.
“As I walked through the corridor of the foster home I was so worried we could not give her the life she deserved and worried her needs would negatively impact our son’s life.
“But then we turned into the doorway and saw her for the first time. She was sitting up and she turned her head to us. She immediately gave us the biggest, heart-melting smile, reaching her hand up to us. All the preparation and photos meant she recognised us immediately. In that minute, I knew it would all be okay. I knew we could love her and give her what she needed. Suddenly her disability became assigned to paper, and she became a real, living child.”
Nicola said the first few months were tough as Amelia settled into her new family and they got used to a child with a physical disability. She said the family received amazing support from PACT during this time.
Nicola said Amelia is now much more settled, is making great progress emotionally and physically, and shares a very special bond with her older brother.
She said the process of adoption had been hard but the outcome was so much better than she could have imagined.
Nicola added: “She may be disabled and she may be adopted, but that is all just one part of who she is. She is my family and we are hers. There is no longer a distinction between her and us. She makes me angry, she makes us sad, she makes us laugh, and she brings endless joy. It is a natural relationship and I frequently forget we do not share a genetic link.
“We are four and we are happy. Good days, bad days, sunny and rainy days. We will be together.”
PACT Chief Executive Jan Fishwick said: “At PACT we are dedicated to finding forever homes for children who can be harder to place and who often have the longest wait for a permanent family. We are therefore always keen to hear from anyone who could provide a loving home to a child who has additional needs, including a physical or learning disability. We can also offer specialist support to families who do adopt a child with additional needs through our Strengthening Families Team and award-winning Family And Children Therapeutic Support (FACTS) service.”
To find out more about adopting with PACT visit www.pactcharity.org or call 0300 456 4800.