“We were recommended by a friend who had a good experience with WBAS, says Dickie when I asked him why they choose WBAS as their adoptive agency back in 2018.

“There’s no getting away from it though, the process was challenging and a bit of emotional roller-coaster. We were finally approved then as adopters in 2019.

“There were some initial challenges with changes of social workers due to sickness which was unfortunate. These things can’t be helped though and Ruth who came in reassured us and got us through.

“We also had a match break down which created longer delays. It got to the point that we thought we just need a break for our own sanity.”

It’s difficult to put a time frame on the Family Finding and Matching stage of the adoption process, it entirely depends on the children currently waiting, the results of the assessment and ultimately, the needs of the child. Children with more complex needs, sibling groups and older children will often wait the longest to be successfully matched.

“Just before we went to go away on a 7 day holiday we were informed of a link and before we knew on it on our return we were pretty much starting introductions with the child!


“We did experience a few other delays due to the Christmas period, this caused a bit of anxiety and seemed to take forever.  You’ve got to be prepared for these things as nothing is ever simple. We had to try and be strong and patient.”


The Introductions and Transition period of the process is a of course a sensitive and critical part of the process, the skills of foster carers often to the fore at this stage.

“Our foster carers were great and we’ve got wonderful relationships where we still keep in touch now, says Dickie.

“Then following Transition and Placement, covid hit! Relationships that had been made with little one and our wider family had to be put on hold, she was 17/18 months and starting to make introductions and connections – so it was really hard for everyone…

“Selfishly though it was actually the best of my life, I’ll never get those times again. It was like the world just paused and we were able to bond so deeply and have wonderful moments together.

“It wasn’t so great for the wider family though!

“FaceTime kept us going though, technology was key. She’s remarkable and children are so resilient so we didn’t notice any hangover as we moved away from covid.”

Adopting again and mental health action

Dickie and his partner have recently been approved to adopt again with WBAS with the decision to embark upon the process again requiring a degree of patience and timing.

“We had to wait until it was the right time for everyone. We needed a few years of quality time together first, waiting until little one was ready to be a big sister.

“We had to do the Introduction to Adoption course again, it’s different now since Mary the trainer has been replaced but we found bits of both courses equally beneficial. The humour that Martina the current trainer delivers is fantastic!

Dickie has experienced some health problems over the last few years with these experiences being the driving force behind him championing positive mental health in the workplace and creating his own men’s walk and talk group.

“I had a bowel perforate in 2017 which then in turn uncovered undiagnosed Crohn’s disease. I had to have emergency surgery, also had a ruptured abscess which led to me having major parts of my bowel removed.

“I become really anxious, I couldn’t drive or get about, was extremely limited.

“It was the lowest point of my life.

“I spoke to a friend and we started sharing some experiences and it turns out we both had experienced similar mental health issues which came to the fore. It was so helpful having someone I could relate to and share these things with.

“So I started running events with employers, talks about mental health, my friend that I initially shared with came in and talked too.

“It started to grow from there really.

“We then discussed together the idea of walk and talks and they came into fruition in 2019.

“We’ve got a private WhatsApp group which was really useful during covid, helping us to build relationships, I started doing some 1-2-1 stuff too with members.

“Things developed into articles then on my employer’s intranet, which is a large public sector organisation with an audience of 1000’s. “I’ve also featured a few times on podcasts.

“The result of this communication was many people starting to reach out to me, this meant more people coming to the walk and talks!

“It’s all just developed from there, we’ve had sponsorship from the Warehouse Gym Swansea, the Secret Café in Swansea has also helped out. There’s an independent mobile coffee vendor on Swansea Bay who’s also offered to help with discounts and offers to the group. Local businesses in the community have just been really supportive!”

Any final messages at the end of Mental Health Awareness Week then?

“For me as a person it’s just so important to be transparent and open. It’s been great that so many sports people are now open about their mental health struggles as these people are role models. Helps us to remove the stigma.”

You find Dickies walking group on Instagram here

To learn more about Mental Health Awareness Week and the support available click here.

#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek 13 – 19 May
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