When i was six I can consciously remember that I was going make a difference in a child’s life. I can remember sitting at the dinner table and dad reminding me to eat all my food and be thankful because somewhere in the world a child was starving. I can remember looking at National Geographic magazines and dreaming of travelling the world especially to those that were underdeveloped and helping orphans. I devoured ever book I could find on world cultures and how people lived in other countries. i read about children from hard places who had been abused/neglected and prayed that one day I could make a difference. I remember reading a novel called ‘One Child’ by Tory Hayden relating to the little girl and wondering how I could help her. The story thankfully ended well where a teacher came into her life and could see past the anger and nurtured her till she could fly again. I had no idea how that dream was going to pan out but the dream still exists even stronger 39 years latter.
39 years latter……you may wonder gees stop dreaming Bernadette and do something about it. There is so much you can do..like sponsor a child; travel to an underdeveloped country and work in an orphanage, work for an organisation that can make a difference, raise funds; help someone else’s child; become a foster parent; study so you can be equipped to help those less fortune on a professional level. mmmmm I have done all that and still i feel this desire growing inside me to do more. Honesty I nearly gave up until I had an shake up that life is not just about yourself and without a goal to help others I felt this horrible emptiness creeping in. I have no desire for status or being applauded for what I choose to do. I just need to follow my heart even if it means being misunderstood.
I began researching the needs in my own country NSW Australia and found that there are over 40 000 children in out of home care and that majority of these children have been moved from several homes before the age of 5. I also began studying and reading all the literature i could get my hands on from a wonderful source Dr Karyn Purvis. Dr Karyn has written numerous papers on child attachment and specialises in foster care/adoption and the affects on children who are within the system. i had the privilege of attending one of her conferences last year in Sydney and knew without a doubt this is where i was needed. ( http://empoweredtoconnect.org) For now my focus is Australia and the needs of the children here.
So where do I start??
At the end 2011 I completed a degree in Counselling. I found it very hard to find work within the industry and to be honest I had no idea what I wanted to do, so in the beginning of 2012 I decided to take a three month trip to Europe with my mum discovering where my family came from and meet some relatives for the first time. During our trip mum and I decided to see if we could find an orphanage in Malta. The very next day we went for a morning coffee and I overheard a lady talking about an orphanage in Malta, I made a quick about turn and asked where was the orphanage? It was a 10 minute walk from where we were. So keen and on a mission we walked to the bottom end of Valletta and knocked on the door of the orphanage. We were greeted by a lovely nun who spoke impeccable English and welcomed us in. I asked if they needed any help and she said Yes on Mondays.
So the next Monday mum and I went to help in the toddler room for a couple of hours. I have to say it was the cleanest; well run orphanage i have ever stepped into. Most of the children who lived there were not Maltese but from families who came as immigrants. The families were struggling and unable to look after there children so the nuns became their parent. I was impressed that they had the understanding of one on one connection and the need for the child to become attached to their care giver. The children seemed happy and well cared for. For me it brought up the memories of my Africa trip several years ago and my helplessness in not being able to do enough. On the other hand it was great to work with my mum and to show her my passion for orphans and that desire I had since I was six came rushing back to me fast and hard. Its funny I have heard the saying to remove yourself from your own environment sometimes makes things seem clearer……..well it did but it also made things much more complicated for me.
Back to Australia:
The desire to love and nurture children grew stronger and stronger..its all i could think of. I needed to make some phone calls to agencies who trained people for foster care. It was the only way I could see I could assist in my own country. I rang several agencies and they came out to interview me but something inside me felt uncomfortable. Then I heard of a wonderful organisation called Banardos. I spoke to a lovely case worker and knew immediately this was the organisation to go with. Two case workers came out and discussed what the process was going to entail and my involvement in an adoption process. Was my ears hearing right?? “Adoption” um hang on Im single I thought it was impossible to adopt as a single in Australia. The case workers smiled and said there organisation is going through restructuring and Yes it was very possible for me to adopt as a single in NSW alone. I needed time to think. Its what I have always wanted but can I do this as a single. I had a whole week end of facing my own fears; praying and in dialogue with a friend. At the end of the week end I rang Bandardos and said Yes ok lets start the process.
The Assessment Process:
1 year of 3.5hour x 15 assessments in my home.
Full disclosure of family upbringing; highs and lows, talking about each developmental stage of my life from earliest memory to date. (some great and some not so great).
My dreams for the future. My desire to be a Mother and why?
What happens if I meet Mr Right?
Full health check.
Police check & Nation Wide fingerprints.
Circle of friends/support/networking.
2 x full week end training with other potential parents.
Meeting Birth Families and hearing their stories (LOTS OF TEARS)
Assessment of my Psychological framework.
Home check for safety.
Financial status and savings.
How a match process works? What are my expectations?
At least 24 Buckets full of tears.
After one year, Banardos compiled my story into a booklet gave me one copy and took the other copy to be assessed. My case went to a tribunal and I received a phone call saying I was approved to Adopt. To be exact the date and time being Friday 11.35am on 22/3/13.