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Amazing adoption

Published:Monday | April 19, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Could you do something amazing and change a child's future? One couple did just that.

Michael and Jennifer are an African-Caribbean couple of Jamaican and St Lucian descent and were both in their early 40s when they approached the Lewisham Adoption Team. After attending an information evening and a four-day adoption course, a home study assessment was undertaken. It wasn't long before Michael and Jennifer were officially approved by Lewisham as adopters and soon after, two-year-old Zoe, who is of a similar heritage, was placed with them. Five months later and the couple had legally adopted the little girl. Jennifer and Michael tell their story in this Voice Parenting Special:

We had been trying for a baby since our marriage in 2000, and had gone through two cycles of IVF in 2005, which was absolutely heart- breaking when unsuccessful. So we began to think more about adoption, but knew it wasn't the right time since we both needed space and time to recover from the emotional highs and lows of IVF. Both of us worked full time, but more than anything we wanted to be parents. We went to the information evening organised by the Lewisham Adoption Team, which was a real eye-opener. We were surprised by the background that the children were coming from, in particular the neglect and abuse they had experienced and how this affected a child's behaviour and development.

The four-day preparation group with other adopters was really worthwhile. It was especially good to meet people in the same situation as us and we still remain in contact with some of them.

home study assessment

We were then allocated a social worker for the home study assessment. This gave us a chance to discuss and explore lots of different areas and we learned a lot about ourselves in the process. We needed to build up trust with the social worker - the questions are not there to catch you out, but the social worker needs to find out what makes you tick and what type of child you would be best match with.

After we were approved by the Lewisham Panel, our social worker told us about a girl called Zoe who needed an adoptive family. Her birth mother, Elaine, had been using drugs and drinking heavily during the pregnancy.

Already, we felt so protective of Zoe and had come to understand how the circumstances of her birth family made it very difficult for them to meet her needs.

Prior to Zoe joining our family, we went through a period of 'introductions' - an intense time as we got to know her and did more and more with her.

Once Zoe was placed with us, nothing could have really prepared us for the massive but welcome positive change to our lives. We have accepted that Zoe has had a difficult start to her life and we love her to bits. It's great to know that the Adoption Team in Lewisham are there to help and support us if need be, and going to their Fun Day in the summer is an event we all look forward to.

For us, Zoe is an absolute delight. She is a lovely little girl who enjoys anything and everything that is pink! She laughs at the silliest of things, which makes us laugh and we know that she's our little survivor. Adopting a child has an emotional impact and the love we have for her is all the more special, knowing what she has been through to become our daughter. Our family and friends have been fantastic in the support that they have given to us. Zoe is definitely one of the family and always will be!

All names have been changed for reason of confidentiality.