Learn about Monica's journey to adopting siblings Ella and Maya.
Monica, aged 45, is a single adopter who lives in North London with her two daughters, Ella, aged 9 and Maya, aged 8, adopted in 2013.
Monica says that her birthday in 2012 was a turning point for her. Her career was going very well, she was settled in her home, but she asked herself ‘what is all this for?’ and knew she really wanted to have children. Adoption felt a very natural choice for Monica as members of her family had been adopted, and she was aware that “there are so many children who need homes.”
Even though Monica was single, she was keen to adopt siblings, and it was important for her to adopt children from a similar ethnic background to herself. Monica says: “I’d read a lot about the difficulty of adopting children from mixed race and African race as siblings. The statistics of BAME children waiting for adoption were very high so it was very important to me.”
Monica says that Coram made her feel valued as a single and BAME adopter and through the process, “made sure I was comfortable, supported me when I was a bit unsure, challenged me when I needed to be challenged.”
I never felt like a 'single adopter'
Monica continues: “Even though all the people on my adoption training were couples, I didn’t ever feel like a ‘single adopter’. My parents live two streets away, we live in the area I grew up in, and we are very well embedded in our church and local community. So even now, that label of single adopter has never felt like a real thing for me, we have such a big inclusive family. I also feel like I’m part of a wider network with Coram.”
Monica says she felt very supported throughout the adoption process with Coram: “I had the same social worker throughout. She saw me evolve and change; she held my hand and looked out for me. The training is a good eye opener as you move from the romantic ideal of adopting a child and changing his/her life, to the reality of vulnerable children and being able to hold their story in your heart.
Monica was told about Ella and Maya, sisters of African heritage. Monica remembers how she felt seeing the girls’ photos for the first time:
“I said to my social worker, that’s them. I knew straight away”.
Developing a relationship with the girls
There were challenges in the early stages of the children coming to live with Monica. She says: “The early days were difficult. They would have tantrums. We got through it. That early stage was about just me and the girls and developing a relationship with them. And then we slowly introduced other family members who started to slowly develop a relationship with the girls.”
Monica also says one of the biggest challenges is “not always knowing why they are crying, knowing what has trigged a memory that has made them happy, sad or cross” She continues: “Sometimes it can be hard to understand why it feels like the world is ending if they don’t get exactly the same thing or because we turned left and not right on the way to school. There will be certain reactions due to their experiences that I will never understand so can only be there to soothe and understand, which makes me sad.”
Monica has received some post-adoption support from Coram including attending a three month ‘incredible years’ parenting course which helped her to understand ‘coping mechanisms for dealing with tantrums, concerns around attachment and how to make space for each one of them, recognising they have different wants, needs and desires.’ Monica says it was also ‘wonderful to be around other adopters who have other challenges and hear how they’re dealing with those.
Ella and Maya have had questions about their lives as they’ve grown up. Monica says they have asked ‘why don’t I have a daddy’ and she has always encouraged honest, open conversation with them. Monica also says it has made a difference for them to have positive strong male role models in their lives – their godparents are her two best male friends, her dad and brother – who offer support from a male perspective.
Monica has recommended Coram to several of her friends who have also gone onto adopt and says it’s great to know that they are always there for support if she ever needs to reach out.
Her advice to other single adopters would be: “Make sure you’ve done your research and fully submit yourself to the process. Your friends and family with birth children will give advice or tell you not to worry about things that may knock your confidence, because they feel they know more about having children than you do!"
"I believe by really submitting yourself to the process and building relationships with other single adopters, you will be better equipped to manage challenges and beautiful moments you will experience.” - Monica
She concludes: “Even though there were some dark times in the early days, the girls bring me so much joy and happiness, bringing the girls into my life was the best thing I’ve ever done, because they absolutely complete me!”