Being single and openly lesbian, Alison always knew she’d adopt a child.
I had always worked in the special education sector and I wanted to use my experience to give a disabled child in care the chance to have a loving home and family.
When I was in my twenties, I went through the process of adoption for the very first time. Instead of being nervous, I found the whole process so exciting and remember pacing the docks at Preston in anticipation. My dream was about to come true; one I feared may never happen.
Timmy had cerebral palsy and severe learning disabilities. He’d already been placed with an adoptive family previously, but they didn’t feel capable of dealing with the extra responsibility. I was able to meet him first before we went through the matching process just in case the same thing happened again. Obviously, I fell in love with him straight away. I mean, truth be told, I was already hooked just from reading the information provided beforehand.”
Timmy came to live with me when he was two years eight months. It wasn’t always easy; he had quadriplegic cerebral palsy meaning that he couldn’t walk, couldn’t speak and had to have lots of physio. I took three months adoption leave and then went back to work part time, so he started to go to a special school twice a week and a childminder.
Timmy learnt to sit up within three months of being with me and he was absolutely delightful; we bonded quickly. He developed various illnesses as he grew up, but he remained a very happy boy. After I’d had him with me for two years, I decided that it was time to expand our little family, so I went back to the Adoption Agency, Caritas Care, to be assessed again, and I adopted a beautiful little girl, Chelsea. Chelsea also had special needs, partially due to being born prematurely, but she developed much better than predicted and became a bright and pleasant child. She learned to talk, however, this meant that I now had two children in wheelchairs. Timmy grew fond of his new sister and they enjoyed many activities together, swings, walks, drives and more as they grew side by side.
Timmy was ten and Chelsea was six when I met my future wife Barbara. When I first started seeing Barbara, I kept the children under wraps to start with, but it was soon obvious that our relationship was moving fast and once we became serious, she started spending more time at the house with them.
Timmy and Chelsea loved Barbara from the start, and by the time she moved in, they were desperate to all be under the same roof. Timmy in particular thought Barbara was the best thing ever. It just worked, and we got married soon afterwards.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been lots of pitfalls. It was very tiring as a single parent in the early days. As the children continued to grow and flourish, we also faced the challenge of obtaining the support they needed. We wrestled with agencies, endured battles, lived through housing adaptations, and loved and cried together.
However, Timmy was ill, and five years ago he died of a rare bowel condition. We were heartbroken, but in a way, Timmy is still part of the family today – we still talk about him and remember him.
Two years later, we adopted our third child Sara. Sara is a lively, cheeky five year-old who has exceeded all our expectations and is a very happy child who manages her disabilities with the support of our family. She lives life to the full! We feel so very lucky, having two beautiful, loving children, and to have had Timmy in our lives. They are a wonderful gift, and I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t want to do it.
Lindsey Duckworth spoke to Alison about her experience of adoption. Lindsey has worked for Caritas Care for 7 years across the Charity’s range of diverse services including Adoption, Fostering, Learning Disability Services (Day Services and Supported Living), Homelessness and Community.