A little over a year ago, Sophie and Alex, a couple from South Scotland thought their dreams of growing their family would have to go on hold. Having faced Covid-related delays to their IVF treatment and then a long waiting list due to a backlog of adoption applications within their local area, the couple were feeling rather disheartened. That was until they read an article about a brand-new Regional Adoption Agency, Adopt Coast to Coast and their lives changed forever.
Here we meet the couple as they are during the midst of introductions with their young daughter to hear all about the early stages of their journey to parenthood.
Talking about their plans to start a family Sophie said: “We had been wanting to start a family for a couple of years, and we were set to undertake IVF treatment when Covid hit. We were due to start our first cycle of IVF treatment on the Wednesday, but the first lockdown was announced on the Monday night, so weren’t able to go ahead as planned. At that stage nobody knew what would happen with lockdown, so we were resigned to thinking that was the end of our plans for now.
“It was a really difficult time for us and we were constantly waiting for the phone to ring. We did manage to get one treatment on the NHS which didn’t work, but at the same time we started to explore adoption. Sadly, we didn’t have a good experience with the hospital during our first round of fertility treatment, so we decided to try private treatment. The private clinic we chose was brilliant, but our second cycle didn’t work out either.”
Looking at adoption
When asked about adoption as a route to parenthood the couple were clear that adoption was always part of their story, with Sophie saying: “We started trying to be parents through IVF but adoption was always in the back of our heads. It was never a second choice for us, and it was always going to be part of our family plans. We just didn’t know in what way – it could be one birth child then an adopted child or otherwise – but we always knew we would end up adopting.”
Alex contacted their local authority first and the couple described them as approachable and friendly, but the service was overwhelmed by the number of enquiries they had received in lockdown and were closing their waiting list.
Alex added: “We made our enquiry with our local authority around this time last year and with the timescales they gave us at the time, we wouldn’t have been on the preparation training until around now. Going the route we did with Adopt Coast to Coast, we now have a baby!”
Sophie said: “We made our enquiry in Scotland around February 2021 and at the time the agency was only planning on hosting one preparation group over Zoom for 6 households and it wasn’t until September. That was all that was planned for the year, so it didn’t fill us with hope. We weren’t sure about the timescales, and we weren’t keen on the way they operated as we really wanted things to happen quickly. We’d already waited four years since we started trying for a family, so waiting another year seemed a lot.”
Alex added: “We then looked at a Voluntary Adoption Agency (VAA) – they were great, and we were looking to start Stage 1 with them and do a preparation group at the end of 2021. It would have been nice, but we knew in our heart of hearts that we wanted to go with a local authority because we wanted a baby. Because local authorities care for children as well as find adopters for them, we knew we wouldn’t be first in line for the younger children with a VAA.”
A twist of fate
At this point the couple were feeling a bit crestfallen until fate played a part and Alex was emailed an article about the launch of a (then new) Regional Adoption Agency, Adopt Coast to Coast.
Alex said: “We were feeling very disheartened by delays with the agencies we’d originally spoken to which were caused by Covid, but we came across an article about Adopt Coast to Coast at exactly the right time. It sounded great – it combined the good things about working with a local authority because they were coming together, mixed with a bit of a geographical distance. This meant we weren’t going to bump into the birth family when doing our weekly shop, so we got in touch with the team straight away.”
Being out of area Sophie wanted to gauge whether Adopt Coast to Coast would be willing to accept them and the very next day got invited to an information event. Sophie added: “We send an email and spoke to a social worker one day, then we suddenly found ourselves sitting in a Teams meeting at an event the next. It was exactly what we wanted as we just couldn’t get to that point with anyone else. The following Monday a social worker was sitting in our house! We were so, so impressed. It was so quick and were pleased to find people who actually wanted us to come and be adopters.”
Alex added: “The language the team used and the way they explained things was very clear and really honest. We really appreciated that as we didn’t want people to talk around the topics. Because we are do-ers we knew Adopt Coast to Coast was right for us and we knew that we really want to go with them.”
Starting the process at the right time
Couples are often asked to wait around six months before starting the adoption application process following completion of IVF treatment to give them a chance to reflect, recover from the treatment and grieve. During the visit the social worker shared her experience of assessing prospective adopters and offered the view that it may be better for them to wait three months to process all they had gone through. Sophie and Alex understood the social worker’s reasons and readily agreed.
Sophie added: “We took a pause because we had recently finished IVF treatment. We know some people take six months, but we felt we were ready to move forward, and we felt the three-month wait was right for us. We had the calendar set to 12 weeks to the day for when we could get in touch with Adopt Coast to Coast again to start the process. We only technically started the application in June and now we’re in March and we are bringing our little girl home.”
Click here to read the second part of Sophie and Alex’s story where the couple talk about the application process and meeting their little girl for the first time.
Find out more
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