“We just want to wrap her up and protect her”

Tuesday 19 October 2021

“We just want to wrap her up and protect her”


It’s four years since Simon and Ellen Cross first met the baby girl that was to become their adopted daughter and now they could not imagine life without her.


The couple already had an eight-year-old girl when they decided to enquire about adoption after being unable to conceive naturally a second time and having endured a failed round of IVF.


They were desperate to have another child – a sister for their daughter – but, unsure what to do, they tentatively called Middlesbrough Council to ask about the adoption process. It was just one call, but it got the wheels in motion and Simon and Ellen haven’t looked back since.


There began their journey with Adoption Tees Valley, which started with a visit from social workers and went on to several weeks of adoption preparation and training sessions – designed to ensure they were suitable candidates and that they were supported and ready to adopt.


Crucially, it also enabled a match to be made.


Within a year, the couple, who live just outside Middlesbrough, had been approved and matched with a ten-month-old baby girl, meaning their hopes of adopting were within reach.


And four years on, the couple are all smiles as they talk about their “noisy, full of life” youngest child, who, after a very tough start, is happy, content and making huge strides in her development and schooling.


“She has come so far since being placed with foster carers at just three-months-old,” said Ellen, 42.


“When we were first introduced to her, she was ten months old, and had already experienced so much trauma in her short life, how could we not love her?


“She hadn’t had a great start, but her foster carer had been wonderful, so she was happy and loved, and in a good routine. She was a little bit behind in her development, but that was to be expected.”


Introductions were gradual, but over the weeks Simon and Ellen, and their eldest daughter, spent more and more time with the baby, so when she did come to live with them, everyone felt comfortable, and she was already a part of their family.


“It felt natural,” added Ellen.


However, after their baby turned one, the couple noticed she wasn’t meeting her developmental milestones and a range of support services were put in place, arranged through Adoption Tees Valley.


And to compound the situation, an earlier medical procedure had been unsuccessful and their baby now required a more complicated, major operation. It was a big set-back the family had not anticipated.


“It was a very difficult time, but we had tremendous support from family and friends, and from Adoption Tees Valley, which continues to support us to this day,” said Simon.


“Our daughter recovered from the operation, and gradually made progress and got stronger, and although she still needs some extra support now, she is doing incredibly well. She’s just like any other little girl, jumping about the place. She rules the roost.”


Simon said when you adopt a child, social workers are there to help and support you every step the way – even after the adoption becomes legal.


“The support doesn’t stop after you bring the child home,” he said. “Adoption Tees Valley has been invaluable to us.”


Simon encouraged others to consider adopting. However, he said the training and preparation sessions at the start of the process should not be underestimated.


“The training was very powerful,” said the 54-year-old. “It challenged our perceptions and made sure that we were truly prepared. We met with birth parents and talked with other people who had adopted.


“They really left no stone unturned and focused on all aspects of our life, from our relationship with each other and our eldest daughter, to our childhood experiences. It was thorough and, at times, challenging, but I enjoyed every bit of the process. Adoption is about children’s lives, so it had to be rigorous.”


Ellen encouraged anyone thinking about adoption to pick up the phone and to call Adoption Tees Valley.


“Our daughter has brought so much to us, as a family, we couldn’t imagine not having her in our lives,” she said.


“We love her in the same way that we love our eldest daughter. We just want to wrap her up and protect her.”


If you're thinking about adopting we'd love to hear from you, contact us on 01642 526 400 or email info@adoptionteesvalley.org.uk