"To be honest, I’m just an ordinary mum who loves her kids"
Like many families Diane and Errol had a lot of love to give. Already mum and dad to their daughter Chloe, they wanted a sister or brother for her and to begin to build the family they always wanted. After years of trying naturally and many IVF treatments – all ending unsuccessfully, Diane & Errol were ready to adopt. Diane tells her story.
“After the many many miscarriages, I just said to Errol ‘enough is enough now’ we were physically and mentally exhausted. We thought long and hard about adoption, we weren’t sure whether it would be the answer, but we were willing to give it a try – find out more about it. We spoke with our daughter Chloe, she was 12 at the time and she was so happy to finally be getting the brother or sister she always wanted. Sharing our news with friends and families we found out not everyone is going to agree with adoption and our decision to adopt, but we had to be strong in our hearts and our heads and work out if it is something we could do. The only way to do this, was to find out the facts – not just the information we wanted to hear, but some of the stuff we may not have wanted to know and make the best decision for us. We felt that changing our life and that of a child would probably be the most rewarding thing.
Several months later, thankfully the adoption process went smoothly – we had a great relationship with our social worker in Hackney - and we were approved to adopt. We knew there were lots of children who needed adoption – but particularly black and dual heritage kids. Our social worker came over to our house with details about a little girl called Annie – just over a year old. As soon as Errol saw her he said ‘that’s my little girl!’ Errol is great, he knows for me, being a mum again is the most important thing, he knows I love children and he is just so supportive, but he knew, like me, this little one was destined to be with us.
Our social worker said ‘hold on, let me tell you more about her before you make any final decisions’. It turns out there was a lot for us to know, you see, our little girl had had a really tough start in life. She was born weighing just over one kilo, her little body having to withdraw from the hard drugs her birth mum had craved as well as the physical disabilities to her hands and feet - the worst case scenario we were told was, she wouldn’t be able to walk or talk. Now, I am a determined woman, both Errol and I felt, we could help this little girl, we could give her the sort of support and love she needed. I myself have had life experiences that would challenge most people, but I was determined to survive and live to tell my story. I had help along the way and without that help maybe I wouldn’t have survived, so I just thought this baby girl needs that same kind of help.
After finding out all the details about Annie, meeting all the specialists and doing my own research, we were ready to bring this little girl into our life. Aged just one and a half years old, Annie came and had an immediate impact on our family. She and I bonded perfectly, I was so happy. We learnt from the health visitors and social workers who came to see us and we supported Annie through several operations with specialist surgeons at Great Ormond Street Hospital all working to help Annie walk. As time went on, whilst Annie made huge improvements; began to walk and her speech developed, Annie began to direct some of her anger and frustration she felt towards Errol and Chloe. There were times when it was so tough on them all to the point that I felt caught in the middle, with Chloe and Errol trying to understand and be patient. With the support of the social workers, I was able to work with my whole family to get through. Annie was just a baby, and as she grew she slowly began to trust and realise that Chloe and Errol loved her just as much as I did.
Annie’s progress is amazing – she is to this day a very special child, she has the determination and a will to survive. Having spent so much time in hospital and having met so many positive role models, Annie wants to be a surgeon when she grows up – and we’ll support her all the way. Life was going great and Annie was doing well in school, when we received a call from our social worker telling us Annie has a newborn half-brother. Again Errol and I had some serious discussions – I’d always wanted a son! But the prognosis for Jay wasn’t positive; he had a number of medical issues and was likely to be autistic. This didn’t phase me at all – I said ‘we can do it, as a family we can do it’. As the months went on, I attended every training course on Autism, I spoke to every health profession I could find – and I invited local community teachers, health care professionals to my home to help me prepare for my son, and they came and provided the most amazing support.
Five years on – just like his sister, my little boy is in mainstream school; he has some help in the class room, but he is towards the top of his class for reading and writing – that’s an amazing achievement for him. When Jay grows up, he can be whatever he sets his mind to be – he doesn’t need to be a doctor or a lawyer, he just needs to be happy – and that’s what he is!
To be honest, I’m just an ordinary mum who loves her kids (probably too much), they are like ordinary children – they still need telling off and chasing to do their homework, but they are the most loving, funniest children with the best manners ever and I am comforted knowing their birth mum looks down and says ‘thanks Di’.