'It's the best thing I’ve ever done'

The Northern Echo: UNCONDITIONAL LOVE: Faye with the little girl she adopted, along with his brother, when they were about to be split up UNCONDITIONAL LOVE: Faye with the little girl she adopted, along with his brother, when they were about to be split up

For years Faye Anderson had been desperate to give birth to a child, until a chance encounter changed her perspective. Now the proud mother of two adopted siblings, she tells Steve Pratt about her joy at giving them a home.

FAYE ANDERSON reaches for a tissue to dab her moist eyes. Just thinking about her new family makes her emotional. Becoming a mother in her 40s is the hardest, but the best, thing she’s ever done.

Her tears are ones of joy after six months of being mum to four-and-ahalf year old Marc and two-and-ahalf year old Celeste (not their real names).

Faye adopted the half-siblings through Barnardo’s and is speaking about her joy at becoming a mother through adoption after considering IVF or paying for fertility treatment in India or Russia.

Once the two children arrived at her home in Norton, near Stockton, she knew instantly that this was the right thing to have done. “I didn’t know how powerfully you could love a child that isn’t actually biologically yours,” she says. “I don’t think people realise what happens when you take the children in and put them to bed and they give you a hug and call you mummy, I think it’s a biological trigger.

“It’s an emotional and physical switch. All of a sudden I can’t imagine or remember a time when they weren’t here and it feels like they’ve come from me anyway. I think it happens to everyone and I just want to put that across to people, maybe people with doubts.”

FAYE’S story illustrates an area that Barnardo’s is focusing on this month – finding potential foster parents or adopters to care for sibling groups, black and minority ethnic children, disabled children and those with challenging behaviour.

For Faye, the journey to motherhood came when she found a girl sleeping rough in a nearby park.

“I asked her what was wrong and she told me the whole thing – that she was 15, had met someone on the internet, and she’d come from Leeds to here. She didn’t have enough clothes on to keep her warm, so I said come home with me.

“I called the police, which was sad, but I had to because she was vulnerable.

I asked the policeman if she could stay for a while until she got her family life sorted out because there was a lot going on within her family. And he said, no, you can’t really do that.

“But he said, ‘did you know how many mixed-race children there are wanting to be adopted, have you ever thought of that?’.”

The idea stayed with her, although it was several years before she made the final decision. “Then I thought, why not? I know I can love children, they don’t have to be physically mine,” says Faye.

She talked to her own mum and friends about fostering which she thought might be the first step for someone new to bringing up babies.

But when she contacted Barnardo’s, the possibility of adoption, rather than fostering, was raised as perhaps being more suitable for her. Three years later, she welcomed two children into her home.

“I thought being single, being over the age of 40 and being black probably meant I couldn’t do it,” she says, keen to emphasise that none of those things need be a bar to adopting or fostering. She pays tribute to her social worker for placing siblings with her who would fit in with her background, personality and outlook.

“The children really are me,” she says.

She’s pleased to have two halfsiblings.

“I would have taken three. I think that’s what I always wanted. I don’t think you want a child on their own,” says Faye, now 44.

“Family groups are very hard to place. People want the single perfect child and I really want to put this across – they really don’t exist these children who are in care. Please don’t come into this looking for the perfect blond-haired blue-eyed child who speaks and is toilet-trained.

Don’t come into it thinking that’s what you’re going to get.”

What’s obvious is her love of her children and motherhood – a hard job but the best job in the world, she says. “I’ve done some good things, some unusual things, but this is the hardest but utterly the best thing.”

Going from a house with no children to two children overnight was a shock to the system. “The first night they were here I probably went to bed at 8.30pm and, gosh, was I tired,” she says.

“My little boy has some special needs, so it’s tiring. And I’m tired now, but every parent is. Little babies are crying poop machines. They’re still not as demanding as a small baby, but they’re demanding.”

Faye is currently on maternity/ adoption leave from her call centre job with Virgin Media and adjusting to life with children. She sold her horse and got the children a pony called Derek, to go with the two dogs and four cats that share the house.

“I walk the dog, do the housework, muck out the pony, get them ready, let them ride, I’m surprised I can fit it in,” she says.

She adopted them as they were about to be split up, having already been turned down for adoption by one family because of the boy’s special needs.

Faye wishes she’d adopted ten years ago instead of waiting until now. Wanting a child and unable to have one naturally, she had considered IVF and spent hours on the internet considering costly fertility treatment in India and Russia.

“They’ve been very successful.

They’re getting women pregnant at 60,” she says. “Then my two children came through the door and that overwhelming need to give birth left me.

It’s gone. It’s weird when I think of how much I wanted a child.

“I wanted a child so much and these children wanted me so much.

We don’t need anything else. Life’s brilliant – hard work but brilliant.

“I don’t feel the need to get pregnant, I’ve got everything I need. Giving birth is the only answer. It’s not.

Don’t go at 50 or 60 to have a baby through treatment. Don’t worry about that, give this a shot.

“There are so many children who need a family here, who are desperate for a family. Or they’ll forever be in foster care, which is a good thing but not as good as a family who will love you and kiss you and tell you how much they love you, and someone you can call mum or dad.”

Could you adopt or foster?

CHILDREN are being left in care for years because there aren’t enough people to adopt them. “Recent news of a record low in adoption rates was very disappointing – not least for the 1,000 children each year who are never found an adoptive family,” says Jonathan Ewen, director of Barnardo’s North-East and UK director for Barnardo’s Fostering and Adoption.

“We are always inundated with the profiles of children – particularly sibling groups, who need new permanent families. And so we are appealing for people who can offer a stable, safe and loving home for these children who urgently need to be settled into a new family “We want to hear from anyone interested in adoption or fostering – no matter what race, religion, age or sexual orientation.

Couples don’t need to be married, but should be in stable relationships, and single people are very welcome to apply. What is really essential is commitment, lots of energy and patience.

“We want to encourage people who may never have considered adopting to think about what they have to offer.”

For more information or for an informal chat, call Barnardo’s Adoption and Fostering North East on 0191-492-9000 or go to barnardos.org.uk/adoptionandfostering

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