Adoption and fostering by Ann Flowerdew

Where do I start with my story of adoption?

Well, it started nearly seven years ago, after I was made redundant for the third time. We applied to the Royal Borough of Greenwich to become Foster Carers. The assessment took ten months of intensive discussions and training. Then two weeks after we went to panel, this beautiful scared little four-year-old girl came into our lives.


I can still see her now and the way she came into the house walking slowly through the hall with her back pressed against the wall crying and scared because she didn’t understand why she was here.

I walked to her and crouched down to her size and whispered “it’s alright Megan don’t be afraid” I took her hand, “come and see our little dog Billy he’s so excited to meet you”. It’s making me cry even now writing this and remembering her little face and how afraid she was and we were too.

For most people who adopt, these are going to be the feelings that you and the child will go through at the start. You’ll be asking yourself how am I going to cope, will we bond, will they like us, will we like them, what do I do now, what have we done?

It was just two days after her 4th birthday when Megan came to us and she didn’t arrive with any new toys, just two birthday cards, an old Dora doll and a handful of clothes. We’ve kept all the things she came with so she has them for memories.

The next two and a half years of fostering Megan were very hard work, with lots tantrums from Megan and tears from both her and us. We even had to take her to CAMHS when she was six due to her aggression and control issues.

They told us she wants to push the mother role to see if I would still be there for her after all her aggression or if we would give up on her. It wasn’t easy and this too may be a route that many adopters will have to go down. They told us don’t-take-it-personally it’s not you she’s angry at, it’s her birth mother.

You really feel their pain and want to be able to take it away for them; it takes small constant steps and lots of patience and I’d say to you also, don’t take it personally, please just give the child the time they need and work with teachers, social workers and CAMHS if needed to help your adoptive child through it all.

When we were told by social services that Megan was going to be put up for adoption after six months of being with us we told them we wanted to adopt her. Our social worker at the time told us that maybe we were letting our hearts rule our heads and to think about it. Christopher and I anguished over it for several weeks remembering how when having our initial assessment when they asked us why we weren’t looking at adoption as we didn’t have children of our own, and we replied, we aren’t coming into fostering to adopt we want to help as many children as possible and decided that maybe they were right and our hearts were ruling our heads. So I wrote out an email saying that, I cried uncontrollably all the way through writing as it was breaking my heart.

Over the next year two families applied to adopt Megan and then when they found out about her emotional issues and the special educational needs she had, decided for their own reasons that they wouldn’t proceed.

Next a single carer came forward, we felt this wasn’t the right match for her, as she needed two parents to be able to support her needs, we didn’t want her adoption to fail. For eight months Megan had lots of tests, medical and school assessments so the lady had full background to help her make her decision to adopt final. It was tearing us apart; surely you should love this little girl for who she is without going into everything?

We do however understand that it is important to have as much family and medical information as possible to help you make your decision, it was different for us as we had time to fall in love with her. I was at a support meeting with other carers when I broke down and told them how we felt. We had realised that we did want to adopt Megan but felt it was too late now.

One carer told me to let social services know that although we realised it was too late, should there be any complications with the adoption or if she changed her mind that we did want to adopt Megan.

We got a call to come into the office where they asked us, are you saying you want to adopt Megan? Our answer was a resounding yes.

They told us that because of the attachment we already had with her, they would put the other lady on hold and assess us to become her adoptive parents. The other applicant decided she didn’t want to wait for our assessment and pulled out.

We feel so sorry for the pain and anguish this must have caused her.

Just because we were already Megan’s foster parents it didn’t mean we could automatically adopt her and we still needed to complete and adoption assessment which took another eight months as my mum died while it was being completed. My mum knew we wanted to adopt Megan and she loved her unconditionally like her other grandchildren right from the day she met her, she was so happy for us and Megan fondly remembers nanny Mary even now.

You will know yourself how the longing for a child will tear you apart and how the whole process can take so long but it needs to take this long to ensure the correct match for the child.

Finally, on July 26th 2013 we went to court to finalise Megan’s adoption. It was my 50th birthday and I couldn’t have asked for a better present than to call this little girl our daughter. A week later Megan was 7, she knows she’s adopted and it’s not something we choose to hide or keep to ourselves, we couldn’t really anyway as she told her whole class when she went back after the summer holidays, “my names Megan Flowerdew now and my mum and dad adopted me.

She’s started to do a little better at school although even now at nine she’s still far behind the others in her class. School did tell us though that within a couple of weeks of us telling her we were going to adopt her it was like a veil was lifted and she started to change and come out of herself.

All through the assessments and then when we adopted Megan we still wanted to continue fostering and for the last eighteen months we’ve done a lot of emergency placements as well as have children stay with us. In total nineteen children have stayed with us from just one night to seven months, aged from three weeks to seventeen and it’s been amazing not just for us, but for Megan also.

In school she can’t remember things that well, but she can name all nineteen children that have stayed with us and she is growing as a child emotionally and personally.

We’ve also been part of the charity Greenwich Foster Carers Association for nearly four years, supporting carers with problems, organising the summer day out, events for the kids throughout the year and the icing on the cake the Christmas party. My husband is the chair and I’m the treasurer (and fundraiser) which is hard finding time to do this properly as we’re now caring for our nine year old daughter and fostering an eighth month old baby boy and seventeen year old girl.

I recently asked on the Greenwichmums Facebook Page for raffle prize donations to help raise funds at our Christmas party to put on events next year and one lady contacted me to say her and her husband would like to send a cheque towards buying something for the kids for the party, they sent us £300. I’m such a softy as again I was in tears and couldn’t speak telling hubby what this family had done, their kindness touched my heart.

I get so excited when we do these events and see how happy the kids get when Santa makes his appearance. Thank you everyone for your support.

Last year within our emergency care roles we encountered two young children that came back into care as their adoptions had failed after three and four months respectively, can you imagine how traumatic this is for the child and it must have been a very hard decision for the adopters.

I personally don’t think they gave the children enough time to bond with them, it’s harsh I know but you need time and patience to allow this little soul to go through tears and tantrums.

Please don’t give up on them.

Even after Megan has lived with us for over five years, we still have hard times and I’d imagine we still have lots more to come, especially as she grows up and wants to know the terrible circumstances of her being taken into care. She often comments on her tummy mummy and what she thinks she remembers about her.

Does it hurt? Yes it does.

But then she tells me I’m the best Mum in the world and I know we made the right decision to adopt her, she’s our beautiful little girl now.

Some people don’t want to adopt as they think its hard loving someone else’s child – believe me it’s not. There are so many children out there still longing for and needing loving parents, they need you. Please if you can try and face your fears and find a child to complete your family.

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