The concept of adoption has always fascinated me, warmed my heart, and moved me to tears.
I have been wanting to write about the whole process for years, and what it's like for a child to find out about their adoption later in life.
I was fortunate to speak with someone who adopted over a decade ago. Her name is *Sally, and with her husband *Michael, she describes the journey from infertility, to adoption, to pure joy when meeting adoptive daughter *Amanda.
How long had you been trying to have a baby?
"We hadn't really tried as such, but we hadn't used any protection since we got married, and that was for about five years. We realised we needed to investigate further as we didn't have any obvious health scares.
It took two years to complete forms, have interviews, and conduct counselling. Once accepted, we were in a pool of couples for two years. Every two years you renew your option to stay in the pool or opt out. The pool of couples are of a variety of backgrounds, ie different religions, ethnicity, and ages.
How long after you started the process did you get the news?
The two years we were in the pool it was coming up to our renewal... and then we recieved the phone call from the agency.
How did you feel when got the news about Amanda?
"We were over the moon when we got the call. Michael got the the call first, then he called me. We were at work and as you can imagine, we couldn't function for the rest of the day. It was unbelievable, considering that that year there were only six babies up for adoption.
How did you feel when you first saw her?
We first saw Amanda in a photo by email, sent by the foster family where she was living for the first five months of her life. We got the call on a Tuesday, we had Wednesday off to sign papers, Thursday we were back at work, then Friday to Monday was the Easter period. During these few days we were quickly preparing Amanda's room. On that Tuesday we got the call, we actually we got to see her. When we saw her she was in a bassinet, and when we looked at her and she smiled at us and we just cried. The foster mother said babies know when they know who their parents are. I grabbed her out of the bassinet and held her so tight and cried for ages. She was just gorgeous.
How did you tell Amanda she was adopted?
Amanda has always known she was adopted from a very young age. As we have an open adoption (meaning being able to communicate with the birth parent, and telling Amanda she is adopted) we received photos and letters from her birth mum, and we would respond to them. There are some great kid's books about adoption. One we would read over and over was 'Tell Me Again About The Night I was Born', by actress Jamie Lee Curtis. Plus we'd read many more books about adoption. I made a book about Amanda's story, with lots of photos, on how it all happened, which is something the agency recommend. We'd go through that as well. We talk openly about it with her especially if she asks questions. Now she is older she has a laugh when people say to her, "You look like your father. She rolls her eyes and has a giggle. We explained to her that families are created in different ways and this is one way.
It's important for me to let you know that adoption was our first option, rather than IVF. We felt in our hearts that there was a child for us somewhere (we were also considering international adoption) and there are so many children who need someone to love them.
My aim in telling my story is to promote adoption as a positive experience, because I'm tired of hearing the negative; sometimes people are so insensitive to people's feeling.
I am so happy with the work being done by Hugh Jackman's wife Deborra-lee Furness, who is involved with National Adoption Awareness Week. It's helping to promote what adoption is all about, and that's very important work."
For more on National Adoption Awareness Week, go here: http://www.adoptionawarenessweek.com.au/
* All names have been changed.