I first spoke to Abbie when she contacted the adoption team, I was working for about 11 years ago. She had met a 4 yr old boy T with profound learning and physical disabilities on a summer playscheme run by a special school in South Wales and gathered that an adoptive family was being sought for him.

Abbie lived in the South of England and had been invited to help on the playscheme, because she had knowledge and experience of a type of communication strategy that the school were trying to introduce. I had been family finding for T for about a year and had found one potential match which fell through. Before ringing us, Abbie had rung another agency, who told her very firmly that adoption was not a realistic prospect for her. At first sight this was not surprising as she was living with her mother in a 2-bedroom flat and had a very modest income. She was a LSA in a special school and doing 1:1 work with an autistic child at weekends. However, I felt that her, experience and commitment to this particular child was such that the match was worth exploring. T’s social worker and I travelled to a midpoint between South Wales and where Abbie lived to meet her. We were very impressed by the thought and preparation she had done as well as her evident delight in T as a child. Another colleague carried out the assessment and also concluded that Abbie had a lot to offer. It was quite a battle to get the approval and match through panel, but we succeeded.

From the start, Abbie has actively pushed to have contact with T’s siblings, 3 of whom have been adopted by other families. Other siblings became looked after, but the eldest two have ultimately returned home. From the start, Abbie has acknowledged T’s connection with his birth mother, Rosie, sending her a Mother’s Day card every year as well as the regular letterbox contact. 

T absolutely blossomed in Abbie’s care, particularly in terms of his communication. She worked incredibly hard to help him to express himself in various ways. He has always been non-verbal, although he is often quite vocal. Quite recently, Abbie has obtained an electronic device for T, which will speak words and phrases for him. Abbie says he’s a bit like Stephen Hawking now! I believe that from the start, in one way or another, Abbie has enabled T’s voice to be heard.  

Very sadly in 2018, T was diagnosed with a life-limiting condition. Abbie’s response was to insist on seeking direct contact with Rosie and T’s older siblings. She brought him to Wales for supervised contact and subsequently arranged further unsupervised contact herself. Abbie is naturally heartbroken at T’s prognosis, but she feels very privileged to have had the chance to be his mum. Rosie has tremendous admiration and affection for Abbie. She is getting married next year has asked Abbie to be a bridesmaid and for T to be the ring bearer. 

Knowing that one of her children who was adopted has a life-limiting condition has naturally been devastating for Rosie as well, but it has brought about their reunion and led to a deep friendship between her and Abbie, based on their shared love for T.

Check out the full interview with Abbie & Rosie below:

By Chris Holmquist,

This Blog is part of our ExChange conference, “Reframing Adoption”

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