2020 (and so far this year too) has been challenging for us all. As a service we’ve adapted, knuckled down and worked hard to deal with the massive increase in the amounts of people wanting to adopt and start a family.

Adoption is no Disney fairy tale or walk in the park, we of course know that. The pandemic has at times intensified the challenges that naturally come with adoption – we hope we have been able to help out in any way that we can when there has been ‘wobbles’.
Ups and downs,  ins and outs the ‘corona-coaster’ has kept us  all on our toes:  in-between the emotion, the dashed hopes, the worry and the holding on there have been some lovely moments. Moments of discovery, moments of magic and adventure – moments of bonding and lessons being learnt. These are Western Bay’s Lockdown Love Stories.
Here’s Gavin’s story.

“I wanted to stay local, maintain some sort of connection with the Western Bay area, says Gavin when discussing why he chose Western Bay as his adoption agency.

“I’ve always wanted children, it’s just never worked out with anyone.   I’ve always been highly aware that there are a lot of children out there in care and some moving from home to home – needing permanency.

“I’ve got friends with children and I love them like my own, so I knew you didn’t need to be blood related to love properly.”

So Gavin’s intentions were pretty set and clear from early on, but how was the actual process of adoption once underway?

“Well, the adopter approval panel wasn’t too bad at all. I know a lot of people build it up in their minds and dread it, but it went very smoothly. My social worker Ruth told me beforehand it should be straightforward and in my case it was!

“They are not trying to catch you out.

“In and out, the matching panel for little one would be a different story though as there were many more variables.

“One year from the start of the process,  I had little one”

“The entire process was smooth, there were some complications along the way, which can happen, but this is what it is – people work very hard in this area and are under pressure.

“One year later from the start of the process I had little one!”

Western Bay celebrated the importance of foster care and good relations between carers and adopters last year, Gavin adds:

“They were amazing! So supportive and helpful.

“It all picked up so quick during the transition from the carers. Straight away they asked me if I wanted to get going with taking over and starting parental responsibility.”

There is a lot of work and preparation that goes into the important transition period from the foster carers to the adoptive parents.  Gavin played his part immensely in the process, learning and developing new skills to aid the process.

“I made little toys and items with my face on them. We also used things like video. Quite quickly there was recognition with little one which was heartening.”

Gavin and his little one started to settle into life in the run up to the Christmas before the pandemic. Little one was a bit too little to fully appreciate the festive period but it was still of course a magical time.

“He’s so resilient and just a proper little boy really.

“In the last year and a half I think he has woken me up just a couple of times in the night.

“The first day at home he settled in for his nap at the usual time. It was like a piece falling into place straight away.

“The smoothness of the transition from foster care has really helped with the settling in. I know it will not be like this for everyone but in my case it was pretty flawless.

“He’s a good eater, good sleeper.”

Fast forward to the spring and lockdown.

“It’s such a big change socially to then just being the two of you in the house, very strange”

“We had our routines set which really helped, lockdown changed a lot. We used to be in activities and play groups most day’s – different things like sensory play.

“All of a sudden we were pretty much confined to the house and local area.

“It’s such a big change socially to then just being the two of you in the house, very strange. The weather helped massively and you’ve got to make the most of what you’ve got. You do bond more as you improvise and do things you wouldn’t normally think to do.”

Lots of imagination and resilience then.

“I’ve been fortunate that he’s such an easy toddler but for others I can imagine that they would be on the phone to adoption support requesting help.

“I do think sometimes too much can be made of the fact that they are adopted. At the end of the day it does get testing because he’s a toddler and that’s what toddlers do.

“He’s an intelligent boy and he’s constantly trying to stretch boundaries to see what he can get away with.”

Like any normal toddler then.

“No you can’t put the toothpaste in the toaster.

“Nope you’re not allowed to climb into the washing machine either.

“And NO you can’t put my phone in the bath!”,  recalls Gavin.

When he acts up which he sometimes has during lockdown, your first instinct is to ask ‘is it because he’s adopted?’

The children that come through the adoption service are all different with wide ranging background stories. Of course some have experienced more trauma than others, extra support might be required and there are constantly evolving parenting techniques such as PACE, which helps parents to create attachments and secure relationships.

“At the end of the day, I know his history and life story inside out.

“Yeah he’s adopted but I wouldn’t treat him any different to any other child, says Gavin.

“When he acts up which he sometimes has during lockdown, your first instinct is to ask ‘is it because he’s adopted?’

“No, he’s just an intelligent toddler trying to test you and his boundaries.

“I’m constantly reinforcing his boundaries, being consistent and firm.

“Having that background story and knowledge of what could come up in the future is really helpful though.”

Gavin’s little one started in nursery when restrictions were loosened during 2019 and Gavin noticed some changes quickly.

“Since going to nursery he’s improved loads but he’s also picked up some bad habits too!

“He’s seen other children doing things and getting away with things and thought he’ll have a go at that at home too!”

Sounds like they’ve both kept each other on their toes during lockdown then.  Is there any scope for Gavin to adopt again, maybe a sibling if the chance arises?

“Ones enough at the moment. He’s built like a three year old and so active.

“The local places we’ve found during lockdown like rivers – he’s loved.

“Like I said, a proper boy. Not just picking up stones to throw into the river but huge boulders. He’s a little unit bless him.

“He happily just sit in the river too. He loves it! Rolling in the mud is another lockdown fave.

“If birth parents have another in future who knows though.

“I know some people struggle but I don’t think I’ll get another child who sleeps and eats as well as little one.”

Any final messages from Gavin then?

“When I go through this again, yes I would choose Western Bay, but I would also request if possible for my social worker to be Ruth. She was amazing throughout it all.”

“And to all the single adopters out there, go for it!

“I’ve got through these lockdown’s just little one and I so I’m sure you will fine!

Catch chapter 2 here 


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Our Family – Video SeriesLockdown Love Stories Chapter 2