Listen to the story of one Irish family: A look inside my adopted family which was produced and shot by Michael Gately as part of his coursework for BCFE in Dublin.
Our life changing moment arrived when my wife and I adopted brother and sister siblings ( 1.5 years and 4.5 years old ) in 2016. Having been through various traumas of being unable to conceive a child naturally over a long period of time we took the decision to move to the UK and adopt over there.
We had the yearning, ambition and desire to provide a warm, caring, loving, and structured home for two little people in order for them to thrive and get a positive start in life after early traumas. The process was extremely tough and challenging and the adoption agencies and social workers left no stone unturned in order to ensure we would be the right fit to adopt.
The early weeks of the children coming into our care were also challenging as everyone adjusted. As our children are now with us nearly 18 months – it has been an incredible journey, one that has brought immense joy. Each day we see the children grow and flourish and it is hard to describe in words. The love and the bond we have for the children is incredible.
Lastly, we speak openly and often about adoption and about their birth parents and their background to ensure they are comfortable from a young age of their situation. We speak regularly about how the birth parents although unable to care fulltime for the children did a fantastic job in bringing two beautiful children into the world in order for them to find their forever home.
I am writing these reflections during the Christmas season when we celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus. Every family hopefully has some memories of the crib being put up in their homes and the infant figurine being placed in the stable.
My wife and I got married in our late twenties and like most young married couples hoped to one day start a family. Ironically, prior to getting married, we attended a natural family planning course which relies on the woman's fertility cycle to assist in regulating conception. We used this method for the first few months as we felt we needed some time to just get used to being married and living together. Back then, 1986, the norm was not to live together until you got married first.
Anyway, after an appropriate length of time (not very long really), we left ourselves open to having children. As a few years passed and nothing was happening we did begin to wonder was there anything amiss. We were fortunate that it didn't become an all consuming issue with us, but we did initiate various tests which didn't show up anything that could have been an obstacle to us conceiving. We were also of one mind in believing that children are a gift that one receives, and not an absolute right. This helped us from becoming distressed and anxious.
It was then, in around, the early 1990s that we started to explore the possibility of adopting a baby. It was a long and very well supervised process but in the end word came through suddenly that a baby boy was being given up for adoption and were we willing to go ahead. He had been born six weeks earlier and my wife went the next morning to the adoption agency to accompany him to a post natal hospital visit. As he had to be brought back again to the hospital in the afternoon I got out of work for a short while to see him. When I held him for the first time, he smiled up at me, and he has never stopped smiling and laughing ever since. Talk about whirlwind preparations over the next few days prior to us formally taking him into our care a few days later.
We were doubly blessed to adopt a baby girl two years later. As she came from a different part of the country, she was brought to us and arrived on Valentine's Day during a snow shower! What drama.
We have always been open with them both about the fact that they are adopted and would encourage them to say a prayer for their birth mothers especially on birthdays etc. Sometimes we wonder does it ever enter their heads at all but we are sure it must and we will fully support them if and when they want to know more. Sometimes we even have to pinch ourselves to remind ourselves that we adopted them.
I met one of their birth mothers briefly and all I could really do in that short time was to express our heartfelt thanks and to wish her well. The abiding legacy of our being able to adopt our son and daughter, is that we know and appreciate that we have been the beneficiaries of incredible generosity and sacrifice on the part of those two birth mothers. What a gift, what an act of love they bestowed on their babies, that for whatever reason they felt unable to care for at that time.
I read somewhere recently that "every new life, from conception, is a new universe and he or she will live forever". We thank God that these two birth mothers honored this reality and had enormous courage in doing so. We pray that they are at peace and maybe have families of their own by now.
Growing up, my parents fostered many babies that were being put up for adoption. We always had at least one extra baby in the house. Even as children we always understood what a privilege it was to be able to love those children and give them a stable home during the transition in their lives.
When I met and married my husband, we were so enthusiastic to fill our home with children, we built a 5 bedroom house, across from a school, with a large garden, ready! And no babies came. After much prodding and poking, IVF and a miscarriage we were destroyed; our planned life seemed impossible.
We picked up the pieces and decided on a path of adoption. We struggled to get on the waiting list for a baby here in Ireland, as there were very few babies for adoption. A couple of years later, we went to Africa to adopt our first 2 children, and then 2 years later, 2 more. We were so blessed to now have the big family we had wished for.
That was over 10 years ago. We now have a vibrant happy home full of teens and pre-teens. Our children come from a background very different from the stories I was used to as a child. They were all abandoned in difficult circumstances. We often think of how difficult it must have been for those mothers, trying to do the best for their child, but risking a long prison sentence.
We are also very thankful to all 4 mothers that they had the courage to make a decision in their lives that has been the gift of family to us. And what a gift – laughter, love, smiles, hugs, tears, dramas, and everything else that goes into a happy home.
Hello, my name is Maura; mother to three adopted children.
There aren't enough words to express how thankful and how grateful we are for the precious gift of life in the children we were given. Their birthmothers gift of life to us allowed us to become parents.
Birthmothers are the bravest, most selfless people we know. We admire you. There is no greater gift than life.
Maura, mother to 3 adopted children,
Maude's story, Adoptive mother of three children
I am the mother of 3 adopted children who are now all growing up and beginning to fly the nest but its not that long ago since we brought them home to us as little babies. After many years of marriage and infertility, my husband and myself embarked on the Adoption Journey back in the late 1980s.
In 1992 we adopted a little baby then aged 4 months. He is now almost 26. We very much wanted a little brother or sister for him. However, very few children were being placed for adoption in Ireland and so we applied to adopt from abroad.
In 1997 we adopted a little girl from Central America who was 2 years and 1 month old. She is now 22 years.
Her birth mother asked if we would also consider adopting her little brother who was then 2 months old. So we returned to Central America 5 months later to adopt him and he is now 20!
Over the years adoption was and still is spoken about very openly in our house, especially the subject of culture and identity and the big debate of Nature V Nurture. Birth mothers and birth fathers have never been forgotten. As little babies being carried in our arms up the stairs to bed, we always included their birth mothers names in their night prayers.
I am not so sure that my 3 children still say a prayer for their birth parents but I, as an adoptive mother, always include them.
On visiting the church when the children were younger, candles were always lit for family members dead and alive and the children always lit a candle for what they then called their"Tummy Mummy". On the anniversary of adoption days, then called "Our Special Day",there was a little treat (usually a trip to Smyths toy shop or Tesco for "A Catterpillar cake")
And so the last few years have brought us lots of love, joy and fun but as is normal with family life we have had plenty of ups and downs, arguments and door slamming etc but doesnt that go on in every house? Any questions that we were asked by the children were answered truthfully and honestly and they have always been given as much information as we had regarding the circumstances of their birth and becoming part of our family.
Hoping my story helps you with your decision,
Maude, Co. Kerry.