If you are considering adoption after unsuccessful IVF treatment, then counselling can help you make the transition.
Moving on from treatment
For child-minder Allison the strain of looking after other people’s children became too much.
“After the second attempt at IVF, I did have a minor breakdown. It became too difficult to look after other peoples’ children when I didn’t have any of my own and I so desperately wanted a family.”
To help get her through the dark times she began to see Jackie Stewart, an independent fertility counsellor at Bourn Hall Clinic, to discuss her feelings and the options open to her and husband Steve, including further IVF or adoption.
“At times it was difficult to talk to Steve about how I was feeling. I think he blamed himself – even though our fertility tests had not identified a particular reason for difficulties to conceive – and I felt guilty for my strong desire to have a family,” recalls Allison. “However we do love each other dearly and we knew that if we could get through this we could survive anything.”
Allison decided to take some time off work and to confirm their love for each other the couple got married in May 2011. The couple took some time to review their options.
Towards the end of that year the couple agreed that they did still want a child to complete their family but didn’t want to go through any further IVF treatment; so adoption was their best chance of becoming parents.
Adoption after unsuccessful IVF
Allison continues: “We had discussed adoption over the years and how we would feel about the child not being biologically ours or carrying it inside me and now, having moved on from IVF, we felt the time was right to pursue it further.”
Understanding the adoption process could be long, Allison and Steve approached their local council and attended several information evenings in the nearby counties, to learn more about being an adoptive parent, the adoption process, and the various councils’ services.
After investigation the couple chose to apply through Lincolnshire County Council as they felt it offered the best match for them: “It felt right for us as well as geographically convenient, all the research we had done was supportive of the Lincolnshire service and they seemed to offer good after-adoption support, which we felt was important.”
Allison then contacted the adoption service in January 2012 to start the adoption process.
The first stage involves registration of interest and undergoing a round of checks before stage two – assessment.
Allison says: “As the child is the key concern there are lots of checks done. For instance a health and safety assessment of the home, forms to complete on family history, finances and circumstances as well as an individual interview, which lasts for several hours.”
The interviews are quite intrusive and Steve, being such a private person, found it difficult to talk about his feelings and found the interview particularly challenging. As a result the adoption application was suspended and the social worker suggested they had some counselling before continuing.
“Having seen Jackie at Bourn Hall I suggested Steve also talked to her. I gave Jackie a call and she then saw Steve for a few sessions,” explains Allison.
Support through adoption process
“Jackie helped us both gain clarity and it was a bonus to be able to access counselling at any point of our journey.”
After Steve had attended several counselling sessions the couple were able to continue their application, which was ultimately approved in March 2013.
Unfortunately, Allison lost both her parents within a space of just eight weeks and the couple decided to pause the adoption process to allow her time to grieve.
In January 2014 the couple felt ready to continue and contacted the adoption services again. Then it was a matter of waiting until the services got in touch with a possible match.
“In March we received a call saying there was a little boy in a foster home, he was a year old and needed a home,” recalls Allison. “I couldn’t believe our luck and we agreed to meet shortly to discover more.
“In April we had an ‘information share’ meeting; where we got to see all the little boy’s details, including case history, and to confirm that we wanted to pursue the match.
“The next stage was to attend an independent panel that included social workers, a child-carer, a medical advisor and a doctor, so our suitability could be assessed.”
The panel approved the match and following a number of other meetings they were able to meet the little lad and he joined them in their family home in early June 2014.
“He has settled in well and he’s done amazingly. We were all prepared for sleepless nights but he’s been a dream. I can’t believe how lucky we’ve been. I look at him and know we’ve been so blessed and glad we went down the adoption route.
“Possibly we could have adopted earlier but I’m glad we waited so we were matched with our little boy and felt in a good place to start our family.
“It has been a long journey and we’ve waited over ten years but now I’m a mum and we are a family – and we are very happy.”