‘I adopted perfect boy after cancer diagnoses – but I’m sick of rude questions’

So many of us are diagnosed with cancer at a young age these days – some too young to have even begun contemplating a family. Chemo and radiotherapy can really damage your chances of becoming a natural birth parent.

I remember, my younger brother Sean needing to go to St Mary’s in Manchester when he was just 19 to ‘supply’ some of his sperm.

The fact that he didn’t drive yet and our mum and dad had to take him absolutely broke my heart in two. I hated that he was so bloody young and the fact that mum and dad knew what he was going to be doing in that room, it felt so utterly s***. Poor Sean.

I’ve spoken with ladies who have been left infertile, or without a womb or ovaries to create a little human. It’s just so unfair – and the treatment is barbaric in some ways.

Before Ivy, I had miscarried with my first ever pregnancy at 10 weeks. 10 weeks probably sounds early to some people, but I had literally known from week 2 and was delirious with excitement.

Trying to contain myself when it came to telling people and buying things and eyeing up new prams. But then one day at work, sitting at my desk I felt it; My teeny tiny human was gone already.

It’s awful to go through this and yet so many of us do without ever really talking about it. When we fell pregnant again months later, the joy I’d had the first time round was definitely still there, but it was tinged with a big dark cloud of fear, in case it happened again.

Thankfully, Ivy was born perfectly healthy in spite of my cancer diagnosis just two weeks earlier. Because we had to move pretty quickly to have my mastectomy and bring Ivy’s birth on early, we weren’t given an option to freeze any of my eggs – plus we wouldn’t have qualified for financial help as we already now had a child.

To be honest, another baby wasn’t important to me in the slightest at that moment in time, all I wanted was to live so that I could love the baby I already had.

Plus, my labour had been horrific and I remember telling Michael “I’m glad I can’t have any more because I am never going through that again!!”

Before long though, I had that yearning for another baby. I missed Ivy’s kicks in my tum and the peachy fuzz of a newborn babe. Trying again for another baby was scary but I’ll save that conversation for another day.

Ultimately though, we decided we were too scared to get pregnant again as my breast cancer had been fuelled by my pregnancy hormones. I couldn’t bear to go through nine months of fear and then potentially my cancer returning so we decided to do something we had always talked about – adopt!

After a pretty long process, we were finally approved in November 2017. In January 2018 whilst waiting to be matched with a little boy, my cancer came back and this time, I was told it was no longer curable.

Obviously, I refused to accept that and after a second opinion, more treatment, surgeries, diet changes etc, I somehow got to ‘no evidence of disease’ and although I still have an incurable diagnosis, we’re hoping that by staying on lifelong chemo, the bugger won’t come back! So we were given the flippin’ go ahead to adopt!!!

We were finally matched with a baby boy who was literally our light at the end of the most terrifying tunnel. Something we had been told was no longer possible WAS possible – I still pinch myself now!

Some of the things I’d really like to try and get across to anyone reading this is the language used around adopted/adoptive families. I spoke with Adoption UK recently and some of the terminology used around adopted families is just not okay. Here’s a few we’ve encountered:

At least you didn’t have to go through labour!

Some women would do anything to experience a natural birth, myself included. It’s hard not to make light of it sometimes, i know. But instead, you could simply congratulate them as you would any other new parents.

Send him back!

This is unreal. Can you imagine year child hearing this and feeling a sense of not belonging or feeling as though he doesn’t belong. If you feel the need to say something about their behaviour, just go with whatever you would say to a child who isn’t adopted – easy!

My sister’s a weirdo, I think she must be adopted!

So many of us are guilty of using this phrase and it’s clearly not meant as an insult – but think about how an adopted child overhearing this might feel? “Am I a weirdo? Am I strange? Is that why I was put up for adoption?” There are so many scenarios they could have going on in their little heads, so just try to keep it at “my sister’s a weirdo.”

His birth parents didn’t deserve him anyway

We have heard this so many times – it doesn’t make us mad, we just hate the idea of Bill feeling somehow ashamed of where he came from.

When strangers are passing judgement on the people that brought him into the world, it can bring a sense of stigma with it. We never want him to feel like his birth parents were bad people – and that he’s ‘lucky’ to have us. We’re bloody lucky to have him!

Can we see some photos of his birth parents.

Nope! They’re very private to us. We know how easy it is to judge a book by its cover. People might try to see similarities in his birth parents or think they look a certain way and therefore – they judge! This is something we never want Bill to experience, so the photos are for our eyes only, thank you very much.

There are so many reasons children are taken into care but what we learned in our training was that almost every single parent doesn’t want to give their child up.

And that is heartbreaking, no matter what the circumstances are. For a parent to have a child taken from them is horrific. We obviously have to look at the bigger picture and remind ourselves that it was in the best interests of the child.

Just because a birth parent can’t look after a child, doesn’t always make them bad people. They could be too young, or have learning difficulties which prevent them from taking good care of their baby. They could be a product of their environment; addicted to drugs or alcohol, violent, homeless.

So please try not to wonder too much about the background of our children, because all you need to know is, he’s our child and we love each other.