Bethan and her children

Name: Bethan

K (8), A (6)

Expectations of Motherhood: I have always wanted to be a mother but circumstances have meant that having a birth child of my own is not going to be an option. I don’t think I had ever thought that I would become a mother by myself but having found myself single and in my 40s realised that adoption was going to be the best way for me to achieve my goal. I was never concerned about having a baby and also knew that I wanted to adopt a sibling group. The adoption process takes quite a while and during that time I tried not to think too hard about what my children would be like. Instead I spent the time on preparation courses, speaking to other adopters and reading as much about adoption as I could. I like to think that I had realistic expectations and knew that any children I would eventually adopt would have had a difficult start in life.

Once I knew about K and A I considered them to be mine- however they were strangers to me and they did not even know I existed! I knew that taking on 2 children at once would be challenging, not least because they have differing needs, but I felt that I was prepared for it! For 4 months I only knew them from photographs and reports.

Reality of Motherhood: Motherhood has been exhausting, exciting, exhilarating and a whole lot tougher than I ever imagined! I don’t know about other adopters, but I could not say hand on heart that it was love at first sight. Love has grown and gets stronger every day as we get to know each other. The children have been with me for 13 months now and I would say that now it is beginning to feel more natural.

It has been so much fun getting to know their personalities, their likes and dislikes and building up new memories together. It has also been fantastic introducing them to my family and friends as well as making new friends together. I think we enrich each other’s lives and are all different as a result of having each other. The milestones of being a mother so far have been in terms of officialdom, first review, dates of court hearings, changing names etc. but now that all of that is behind us I feel like I can move forward with just enjoying being a mum.

Taking your children home for the first time: I met K and A for the first time 8 days before they moved in with me permanently. Over that period of time the amount of contact increased each day as the foster carers gradually passed on the caring responsibilities to me. The morning I went to pick them up was an exciting moment for me, but I was also very conscious that it was a sad time for the foster carers and a bewildering time for the children. For the first few weeks the children would not leave my side and I had to learn to do everything at their pace. As a single carer this was exhausting as I had no one to pass the baton to. However, those early days, weeks and months are incredibly important and we managed to get through them pretty much in tact!!

The best/worst advice: The best advice I have been given is to ‘ditch the ironing!’ 
It is too easy to set yourself really high standards and then feel a failure when you do not meet them, so I have also decided to lower my expectations to almost zero so that anything more than that is a bonus! I cannot think of any worst advice, but I suppose it has been easier to relate to people who have been through the adoption process. Some people offer advice with the best of intentions but when they do not fully understand the situation I find it often leaves me feeling like more of a failure!

The hardest parts of being a mother: In the early days it was the sheer exhaustion. I have never known anything like it. Now I would say it is trying to get the balance between being fun mum and strict mum.

The best parts of being a mother: The cuddles!! It has also been watching the children grow in confidence as they become more secure. I am proud of their achievements and love spending time with them. Sometimes strangers tell me how much my daughter looks like me and that gives me a warm glow inside!

Has becoming a mother changed you: Everything has changed for me. After 21 years of working full time I am now a full time mum and I really do not miss work which is a surprise to me. I am now looking at ways of working that fit around my children rather than my children fitting around my work.

Hopes for your family: My main hope is that my children have a life full of love and opportunities. We are fortunate to have amazing friends, and the children enjoy school and have a sense of adventure so are always keen to try new things. I hope that this continues.

What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums: To anybody considering adoption I would say ‘go for it’. It is not an easy option and you need to go into it with your eyes wide open, but the rewards can be amazing!

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