I felt like girl’s mum before we even met - a walk in the park changed my life forever

“When she calls me mummy it just fills my heart and it’s not just for me, it’s for her as well."
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A Liverpool woman said she felt like her daughter’s mum even before they met each other, and believes their new family is a ‘match made in heaven’.

Steph is from Wavertree and first thought about adoption during a walk around the Mystery park during the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020. She suddenly had a lot of time to reflect on her life and decide on what she wanted her future to look like.

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A central part of the picture was her desire to be a mum. She said: “If you had told me 20 years ago me I’d be hitting 40, single and no kids I’d have said ‘not a chance’, but that was the situation I found myself in. I always knew I’d be a mother at some point and I felt it was now or never.”

Adoption in Merseyside (AIM) say there are currently 55 children who are looking for their ‘forever homes’ across the region. AIM are always looking for people to ‘open their homes and their hearts’ to children in need and provide them with the love, safety and support they so desperately need.

However, there are some myths around adoption AIM want to dispel including, those around the eligibility of single people. The fact of the matter is there are tens of millions of single parents around the world who are doing an exceptional job of bringing up their children. This is just one of the reasons single people are eligible to adopt children and why they’re welcomed by organisations like AIM.

Any doubts Steph had about adopting a child as a single person were soon dismissed after the very first phone call to AIM. Steph said: “AIM was recommended to me by a friend who had adopted. When I contacted AIM they were so welcoming and receptive and assured me there was no problem in adopting a child and being a single parent.”

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The initial phone call is followed by a thorough process centred around the welfare of the person intending to adopt as well as the safeguarding and happiness of the child.

Before the matching process began, Steph was assigned a social worker who supported her through the assessment including an exhaustive questionnaire to examine her personal circumstances. Steph said: “I found it really therapeutic as it takes you back to your childhood, asking questions about my parents and also what sort of parent I would like to be”.

Steph from Wavertree who accessed services from Adoption In Merseyside to start a family. Image: LDRS Steph from Wavertree who accessed services from Adoption In Merseyside to start a family. Image: LDRS
Steph from Wavertree who accessed services from Adoption In Merseyside to start a family. Image: LDRS

After progressing from the personal assessment and being approved by an expert interview panel, Steph was advanced to the matching process and this is when she first saw the face of her future daughter, Amy (Steph’s daughter’s name has been changed to protect her identity).

After reviewing a series of files Steph came across one which stopped her in her tracks. She said: “With Amy’s file I read it once and asked myself ‘what am I hesitating for?'”

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Steph and her social worker then met with Amy’s foster carers and their social worker and discussed Amy’s life in more detail including her history and upbringing and what needs she had. Steph said: “I remember thinking at this point that I really wanted to be her mum. I probably felt like her mum from this point onwards. I already felt so protective of her.”

The priority for Steph was Amy’s needs and whether she was the right person to meet them and become her mother. Once she had the initial meeting and found out more details about Amy’s life, her mind was made up. She said: “I felt like her mum without ever having seen her.”

The next stage was actually meeting Amy in person. As Steph describes the process, it’s clear AIM’s approach is entirely centred around the comfort of the child. One example of this is AIM facilitating a ‘bump into’ meeting which is a casual introduction where any communication is initiated by the child.

AIM also arranged to have a photograph of Steph put up in Amy’s foster parents’ house and also gave Amy a scarf with Steph’s perfume sprayed onto it. Steph explained how it’s these little things which helped Amy to become more comfortable with her and facilitated a slow and managed transition as Steph became a new and central figure in Amy’s life.

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The meetings become more frequent, including supervised home visits. Eventually, responsibilities for meal times and bed times were passed over to Steph until Amy came to see her as her primary guardian. Steph said: “Actually, it’s all so well researched and gradual and for me it just felt very natural.”

She added: “When she said she wanted to stay here and recognised this as her home, that was a magical moment. I couldn’t love Amy more if I’d given birth to her. There’s nothing in me that doesn’t feel totally connected to her.

“When she calls me mummy it just fills my heart and it’s not just for me, it’s for her as well because she’d never been able to call anyone ‘mummy’ before and that’s just not right. Now that she knows I’ll be her mum forever – that’s just great.”

AIM encourage new parents to be open, honest and transparent to their children about the adoption. To help with this they provide post-adoption support and help the new family to create a ‘Life Story Book’ which uses simple and accessible language and images to tell the story of the child and how they became part of their new family.

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This is something Steph has fully embraced. Amy’s ‘Life Story Book’ takes pride of place on their living room book shelf and they regularly go through it together. Steph also makes sure Amy still has contact with her foster carers as she does not want Amy to think they rejected her.

All of these actions are designed to make Amy feel safe and loved and it’s a process Steph is unequivocally positive about. In fact Steph is still considering whether to adopt another child. She said: “When you mention to people you have adopted they generally say ‘that’s such a good thing to do’. The truth is she has brought as much to my life as I have to hers.”

Steph added: “Sometimes I think we are a match made in heaven. I needed something and she needed something and we found each other and put together.” Asked what advice she would give to other people thinking about starting a family through adoption, Steph said: “I’d just say make that first call.”

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