Whether you’re one of the many people struggling with fertility issues, from a same-sex partnership, worrying about the impact of a growing population on the planet, or you simply want to provide a fresh start for a child, adoption can be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do.
Of course, it isn’t without its challenges though - the process to adopt can be long, intrusive, and stressful, and that’s before you are even paired with a child. And bringing a child home isn’t necessarily a fairytale ending - it can take some children a long time to settle. It’s estimated that there are currently 6,000 children in the UK in need of a family, but only around 3,500 of those will find a home. We speak with Faith Buckley, 38, who - along with her husband, Stu, 37 - adopted three siblings. This is her story...
"After checking on my two-year-old, watching her snuggled up with her favourite bunny, I checked in the room next door, listening to my two older boys snoring soundly. ‘Finally asleep,’ I whispered to my husband Stu, then 36, as we made our way downstairs to tidy up toys, iron school uniforms and prepare lunches for the morning. I cherished times like these because, after years of longing, I had what I wanted - a house full of chaos, but so much love too.
"By the time we married in August 2017, I’d already had four miscarriages, each one more devastating than the last. Three months before our wedding, I’d lost a baby at 14 weeks, and I knew I couldn’t do it again. We’d always talked about adoption.
"My job as a teacher and Stu’s volunteer work as a Scout leader meant we knew not all children came from happy homes. ‘All children deserve to be loved,’ I told Stu. And he agreed that it wouldn’t matter if a child was biologically ours or not, we’d love them just the same.
"In August 2020, we got in touch with our local authority, registering an interest in adoption. After initial chats with an advisor, in March 2021 we had a series of video calls with social workers. They wanted to know everything about us, from our childhoods to our ex-partners. It was a vigorous and sometimes intrusive process, and we both came away feeling emotionally exhausted. But all parties needed to be sure.
"When we were told siblings often got separated, it really upset us. ‘We never want to split them up,’ I told the social worker. When she asked us if we’d consider taking two children, or perhaps three, we both knew that was something we wanted to do.
"Stu was from a big family plus, we were financially secure and had always wanted more than one child anyway. In September 2021 we were matched to a sibling group - a baby girl and her two older brothers. When we received a photo of them together in the park, their beautiful eyes staring up at the camera, I knew I wanted to give them a loving home. Despite their rocky start in life, they were still happy, and hopeful for their futures.
"In February 2022 we met them for the first time at a nearby community centre with their two sets of foster carers. Stu and I were so nervous as we realised how desperately we wanted the children to like us.
"The eldest was cautious, standing behind a chair, while his brother chatted away and their little sister cheekily unpacked the contents of her foster mum’s handbag, oblivious to the world around her.
"After more meet-ups, we all got to know each other, so by the time they came to live with us in May 2022, we quickly felt like a family. But while they spent their first night sleeping soundly, me and Stu lay awake all night. ‘Did you hear that?’ I whispered, worrying one of them had woken up.
"Next morning, Stu crept downstairs and made us all bacon sandwiches. All five of us snuggled in our bed, eating and watching Paddington Bear on TV. ‘Is this our home now?’ the eldest asked. ‘Yes,’ beamed.
"That Mother’s Day, in March 2023, the children gave me handmade cards and a bracelet with three feathers, one representing each of them. I’d never felt so happy. But day-to-day life changed so much, and some days were a struggle. The financial responsibility is also huge, but we made a budget before we made the decision to adopt.
"Now, the children call us Mummy and Daddy, and we tell each other ‘I love you’ often. Their confidence has grown so much and they’re thriving, because they know how wanted they are, and how grateful we are to have them. Most importantly, they know they’re safe and loved.
"These days, my house isn’t always as tidy as I’d like, life is sometimes chaotic and me and Stu are often exhausted, with very little time to ourselves, but we really wouldn’t have it any other way. Adopting our little tribe of tiny humans has been the best thing we’ve ever done."
Find out more about adoption
‘Adoption means a permanent home, with a family who has been given the knowledge and skills to parent a child who has had a tough start in life. Children who are older, disabled, from ethnic minorities or in sibling groups wait much longer to be adopted, so it’s a priority to find families for those children.’
For more information about adoption, visit the National Adoption Service
This feature was originally published in October 2023 in Woman's Own magazine, which is also owned by Future Publishing. We saught permission from the contributors before resharing this content.
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Frances has been a journalist for 18 years. Starting out on her local newspaper, she has always had a passion for human interest stories. In recent years she has been devoted to writing the gripping, sometimes heartbreaking, but often life-affirming stories of real people for women's magazines, including Woman's Own, Woman and Chat. She also writes about health, beauty, crime, parenting and all the many issues affecting women in today's everchanging and complex world. Frances has also spent time working on newspapers abroad, including Spain and the Middle East where she was a passionate advocate for animal rights and giving a voice to those who didn't have one.
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