“The first moment we saw him, our hearts melted. Those big brown eyes and wide smile. We knew we were making the right decision trying the concurrent planning route.”
Sumiya and Shahid married in 2001 and had already talked about having a big family. But, after two rounds of IVF it wasn’t to be.
Sumiya said: “God didn’t give us the blessing of having our own children, so we are looking at others to give us that.”
After looking at fostering and adoption options, the couple contacted the Adopting with Concurrent Planning Service with the view of adopting a young child of Pakistani heritage.
It wasn’t until they started discussing the option with friends and family that they realised the lack of knowledge about the subject within their community.
Sumiya said: “Nobody in our family had any experience of fostering and adoption but everyone has been really supportive. Friends and family wanted to know more about it – but had very basic questions. They had no idea how to adopt a child and no idea of the need for adopters to come forward from the Pakistani community.
“The majority of people probably don’t know that the process involves courts and social workers,” said Shahid.
“At first, we were looking at adopting from abroad but then we were told about the need here in the UK for people to adopt Asian children.
“We consider the Pakistani community to be very family orientated; If you need support, there’s always a family member to help out. It just goes to show that there are family issues in every culture.”
The couple decided to follow the Adopting with Concurrent Planning route – where a child is fostered, with the potential of adopting. Although this generally allows a couple to care for a baby rather than an older child, there is a possibility that they will return to their birth family or carer.
Sumiya said: “We had enjoyed seeing our nieces and nephews grow and develop their personalities and skills – and we wanted to experience that. We wanted a baby we could give a home.
“We wanted someone we could teach to walk, to feed themselves, and learn to read. We wanted to experience the different stages of a baby’s life. We wanted to help a child grow into the best person they could be.”
In August, the couple met the little boy they now care for, who was just months old.
Sumiya said: “He’s a little bundle of joy who was a delight from the start. He was always so full of energy, bouncing up and down. That’s why we nicknamed him ‘Popcorn’.
“We had bonded within a couple of days. It was difficult not to. You don’t have to do much to get a big smile from him and he loves attention. “We put Popcorn in the bath and he just loves splashing. He’s always moving! I have never seen a child that smiles so much.
Sumiya and Shahid are still aware that they are foster carers and final decisions are yet to be made regarding ‘popcorn’s future by the Court.
“It’s hard thinking about giving a child back after you’ve got attached to them and it does weigh on our mind. We keep having to remind ourselves that Popcorn might not be with us permanently – but we know that we are helping to give him the best start in life.
“We didn’t know how our families would react – but they have been very supportive. No one treats Popcorn like he doesn’t belong. In fact, the difference it makes to older people in the multi-generational household is amazing to see.”
The couple said the Adopting with Concurrent Planning team have been very supportive, ensuring they are aware of the process and prepared both physically and emotionally to deal with what may happen, offering support at every step along the way.
Shahid said: “We are really thankful, but we have to be realistic. Even buying a car seat, we didn’t want to get the one that would last him longer because we don’t know that he will be with us.
Our family is desperate to buy him clothes and toys for when he’s a little older, but we keep asking them to hold on.
“Personally, we were looking for as young a child as possible, but there are plenty of older children than need adopting too. If a couple wants children, there are children that want a home. The effort of the process is worth it.”