Adoption stories - adopting solo
Growing up many of us dream of the fantasy future, marriage, children, a lovely home. The comforting thought of two parents and the 'perfect' family setting. But marriage and kids aren't the only path to take.
For Allison Cowen, there was once this same vision of the ideal life. Belonging to a large family, Allison knew that she'd always have her family and friends by her side but as she got older, she realised that maybe marriage and kids wasn't the only path you could take.
'I always knew I'd have my own children, but I also knew I'd care for children that couldn't be cared for by their own parents because I have three foster siblings and my Grandma was adopted. I learnt that a family wasn't ready made and your family can come from anywhere and be anyone.' Allison explained.
Beginning the journey
The mum of four from Chester-le-Street had thought marriage and a young family would be how her life would develop but when she reached her 30's and was single and with no children, she knew she didn't need a partner or a husband, she didn't need the idealised setting. All she needed was a child who needed her, and her adoption journey began.
'I realised in my mid 30's that this supposed 'perfect' scenario was not relevant or important - I was in a position on my own to love and care for a child who needed me.'
Months of research and preparation followed before Allison sent her initial adoption enquiry and shared her desire with family and friends. Allison explained, 'I told my close friends at a girl's night in, they were overjoyed for me and said they would support me every step of the way. I shared the news with my immediate family during Sunday dinner, again they were amazingly supportive, but they were realistic - parenthood wasn't an easy job and certainly not when doing it alone.'
Once approved to adopt a child with us, Allison began the matching process - the most heart-breaking but equally uplifting journey to date. When a prospective adopter is approved, they are invited to attend events which are designed to give them the opportunity to meet the children currently in need of a loving family. Allison said, 'Some of my initial interests in children didn't progress as other families were a better match, but I waited patiently, until one day in March my social worker contacted me about a little boy who was one and had minor additional needs. As soon as I read his profile, I knew I wanted to be this child's mum.'
Finally, the call came, and it was the best news possible. Allison was to become a mum to a beautiful little boy called Thomas. 'I just burst in to tears, I could not wait to love him and to give him everything he needed.'
The next few months were spent meeting professionals including paediatricians and social workers and of course Thomas' foster parents whom he'd lived with since four days old. 'I absolutely loved meeting the family who cared for Thomas from the beginning, they brought him to life with their stories of him and as soon as I saw a photograph of him, I fell in love - he was meant to be my son!'
10 weeks after Thomas went to live with Allison, the adoption order was granted in court. 'I hugged my boy so tight and just remember repeatedly saying "I'm your Mam".'
A new family
Since the adoption was finalised, life for Allison and Thomas has changed unrecognisably. 'I started this journey on my own and I wouldn't change a thing, I had the full support and love of my family and friends and the passion to give a child a family but as life unfolded our family grew and I could not be more grateful.'
After a year of being mum to Thomas, Allison met Paul, a father of two. In July this year, the family welcomed new addition, baby Joshua, Mark and Allison's biological child and the family have blended beautifully. 'We have grown in to a big family, the children all love each other, and Thomas adores his daddy and his brothers and sister.'
Reflecting on the adoption process and the rollercoaster of emotions, Allison says, 'Without the support and encouragement from my family and friends I would not have adopted my wonderful son. Meeting life long friends such as Louise was the best thing to help me through the adoption process. I am very thankful, and I feel privileged to be able to call Thomas my son.
'To be able to adopt a child, especially a child with behavioural issues or a learning difficulty you need to be determined, to have empathy and be honest about what you can take on, but the most important things are to have a loving heart and mind and you'll be amazing.'
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