It’s a Christmas gift from his parents – a tree for his first owned home – which will symbolise Andrew’s second chance at family life.
It might seem like just a tree, but the 28-year-old might never have recently bought his own home if it wasn’t for the secure start in life a Whalley couple gave him when they adopted him as a baby just before Christmas.
Having tried unsuccessfully to start a family, Kathryn and John (pictured at Adoption Matters 70th Anniversary Event in September 2017) signed up to an adoption agency and became parents to Andrew at six weeks-old. “The experience is absolutely normal,” said John. “I can’t think of any difficulty that might not have happened to any family, except you don’t have nine months to prepare! “There were only a few weeks from the time of knowing about Andrew to him living with us but the support we received was excellent.”
What can be a lengthy process, however, is the wait for a child. “After we signed up it took two to three years before Andrew came along but the agency has given us so much support throughout. If there was ever any problem, we could speak to someone.”
Life for any family is never entirely smooth-sailing – and John’s is hardly any different. “You don’t always know the adopted child’s background, such as illness [in the genes]. But then you don’t know the future of any child. Things happen in life and you meet developmental milestones just like any one else,” he said.
But the life-changing help they received is one of the reasons they’re championing Adoption Matters UK’s latest campaign, which marks the charity’s 70th anniversary.. As in previous years, the need to find families for some of our most vulnerable children – especially siblings – remains at the heart of this year’s National Adoption Week which runs 16-23 October 2017. It will also aim to encompass all aspects of adoption, to demystify and clarify the process, reflect the challenges of adoptive parenting, share individual stories, showcase and signpost to best practice and invite anyone whose life or heart is touched by it to #SupportAdoption.
“I volunteered on the agency’s adoption panel and we go to its carol service every year to offer support and so Andrew can keep in touch with the staff,” said John. “But it’s also because he went to his first agency carol service 28 years ago as a baby of only a few weeks old with his proud new parents.”
And for John and Kathryn, due to rising costs, it’s vital now more than ever to support agencies. It’s why Kathryn is entering a competition on behalf of Adoption Matters UK as part of the Christmas Tree Festival from December 7th – 10th at St Mary and All Saints’ Parish Church, Whalley. During the festival, residents pick the best-dressed tree and make donations towards its assigned charity.
And so, Andrew’s gift is more than just a tree – and it will be extra special for its role in helping more couples fulfil their dreams of starting a family. In fact, it’ll be a moment bursting with pride for John and Kathryn when their son takes it home. “He’s a very well-rounded young man,” said John. “He’s like any other 28-year-old and if you saw him with us you wouldn’t think ‘he is adopted’! “We are 100% proud of him.”
The festival opening times are: Thursday, December 7th, noon – 9pm; Friday, December 8th, 10am – 4pm; Saturday, December 9th, 10am – 4pm; and Sunday, December 10th, noon – 4pm.
For additional information about adoption and the different options available, please contact Adoption Matters on Freephone: 0300 123 1066 or complete our short online form here to download a free information pack.