Last year I started thinking about adopting again.
I spent a lot of time weighing up the pros and cons, as there are many. There is a lot to think through.
Things with me and my daughter couldn’t have gone any better, she is really settled and a very easy-going child, with no significant trauma or behavioural issues (at least so far) and we work really well together as a family unit.
In some ways, it’s a good time to look at adopting again, as I’m approaching 40, so if I want another kid (and I do), I’d rather do it now before I get much older. By the time the approval process were complete (as I have to re-apply to get reviewed and approved all over again), my daughter would be 4. They usually recommend that the new child is younger, and that there is a minimum 2 year age gap, so I would probably be looking at another child around 18 months-2 years old.
So in a lot of ways it works. It’s a good age gap to have (2 and 4), and my daughter was 18 months old when she moved in with me so I feel confident knowing what to do with a child that age.
Obviously it would be incredibly hard for a few years, especially in the beginning going back to the lack of sleep and teething and potty-training, but it could also be wonderful. I think my daughter would love to have a sibling, and I have always wanted two kids, so it makes a lot of sense.
Of course there are risks. We have a really good thing going right now in our little family of two, and bringing a new child into the mix with inevitably change our dynamic. The new child might have significantly more complex needs, trauma or behavioural issues, which would likely affect my relationship with my daughter. Yes all kids are jealous of a new arrival and there will be some adjusting as she learns to “share” her mama with someone else, but a new child that is behaviourally challenging could exacerbate all of that. Additionally, just because my daughter is relatively easy now doesn’t mean she’ll be the same when she gets older – she might be a nightmare teenager for all I know.
I got incredibly lucky with my daughter, but there is no guarantee I would get that lucky again. Although that said as a single adopter, the social workers are less likely to place me with a child that is known to be challenging. I am also now a known entity to social services, so it might be easier to match me this time around, as they know better how I handled things the first time around and what I’m capable of (or not).
Can I afford it?
There is also the financial implications to consider. Obviously another young child means saving up again for my maternity leave, and planning and saving up for childcare costs such as nursery. So I’ve started looking at my finances and thinking about what I’ll need to have saved up and by when to make this work. One benefit of the age gap is that by the time I am matched and have finished maternity leave, the likelihood is that my daughter would be ready to start school so I would be unlikely to need to have both kids in nursery at once, which certainly helps financially.
And although the norm is to adopt a younger child, there are exceptions and it’s equally possible I might also end up with an older child – who knows?
It has also triggered once again my thinking about whether to move or not. My hope is that both kids could share a room, at least for a while, so that wouldn’t be an issue, but it can’t be guaranteed that they could share and the social workers generally ask you to assume that they can’t share. If the new kid is likely to be up all night screaming I’d probably need them to be in separate rooms, or it just might not be suitable for them to share. I do have a 3-bed house, but the spare room is currently my office full time and I am likely to be working from home permanently in future so I’d need to think about how things might work logistically and more space in general would be ideal. I also want more garden space in the long term, so ultimately we would aim to move eventually, but the timing of these things is crucial.
Right now, my support network is here, and I have wonderful neighbours who can support me if things get hard. Moving before a new arrival would take away my built-in network and I’d have to forge new connections which takes time. Equally, having a new kid move in and get nice and settled, only to uproot them and move them again might be hard for them, and might cause them to take longer to trust me and bond with me. Social Services generally ask you to do things like move before a new child comes into the picture so it’s a settled environment.
So there is a lot to consider in the wider context of having another kid when it comes to adoption!
After thinking it over for several months, I decided that I was ready and I made the call in January to start the process. I was told at the time they needed me to wait until my daughter has been with me for 2 years before I can start it up again, so I can’t start the approval process until July.
As you all know, I looked at moving house back in September, and got the house valued, looked at the costs of moving, and spent many weeks agonising over the respective cost-benefit of moving to a cheaper place outside of the city with less diversity, and ultimately I decided it was the wrong call.
Since then I’ve kept half an eye on Rightmove casually seeing what is available, knowing that I want to stay close to my support network, and in an ethnically diverse area, so ideally I want to stay in the same area or near enough, but also knowing that I can’t afford anything significantly bigger around here. Nothing much has come up since September that meets my needs, despite the market going berserk since the Stamp Duty holiday.
And then, about 2 weeks ago, I spotted it. A 4-bedroom terraced house, just up the road in the next suburb over, lots more space and a bigger garden. It even has an outbuilding that could one day be my very own pottery studio… (When I win the lottery obviously). It was out of my price range, but it was so perfect in terms of what I’ve been looking for that I requested a viewing anyway. The day before my viewing was booked, they dropped the price into my budget range!
I viewed it and loved it, and immediately put my house on the market. After a week of tidying, photographs and updating the EPC, my house went onto the market on Saturday night. On Monday I had 2 viewings, but also heard that the house I wanted had already gone under offer and been snapped up. I was crushed and hearing it had gone just reinforced how much I had wanted it. I started searching more seriously now that my house was on the market and literally couldn’t find anything else in my price range that was big enough to be worth moving for. Most of the other houses in my local area AND in my price range are 3-bedrooms houses similar to my house, so wouldn’t really help much in terms of space and wouldn’t be worth all the extra moving costs and fees involved.
On Tuesday afternoon, I had my first offer on my house – they offered me the asking price, and it is a couple with no chain (first time buyers) and no mortgage (they are cash buyers). I immediately put in an offer on the house I wanted, but it turned out to be the same offer they already had, so I upped it to the max I could afford, and on Thursday was told I got the house and they accepted my offer!
I’m thrilled that I got an offer on my place fast enough to be able to gazump the house I wanted, and am now in a frenzy of paperwork trying to make sure no one else gazumps me before we exchange contracts…. My printer and scanner have never worked harder….
It’s all very exciting and has happened extremely quickly, so I’ve been talking it out with various friends a lot, as that’s generally how I make big life decisions! But ultimately, as soon as I saw that house, I knew it was the one that was right for us. It has loads of potential, (I can already picture what I will do with it later on when I have the money) and it just feels right. And I have learned over the years to trust my gut. I have good instincts and if I wasn’t sure it was right I defnitely wouldn’t have made such a huge decision so quickly.
So there we are – in about 8 to 10 weeks, we’ll hopefully be packing up Casa de Maya after almost exactly 10 years here, and moving to our new house. just up the road, ready to start decorating and doing it up all over again and getting ready for our little family of two to become a family of three!