A Hampshire teenager is urging people to consider offering a loving home to children in care after revealing how being adopted transformed her own harrowing early years.
Nicole, now 17, recalled terrifying memories of living with her drug addict parents – including finding needles hidden in the bread bin - in an essay for a GCSE project.
She now wants to share her story to encourage more people to consider adoption.
She has shared extracts from her essay to help people understand the difference they can make by adopting a child, ahead of an information evening being held by the charity Diagrama, in Winchester later this month.
The essay focuses on ‘Room 101’ into which Nicole chose to banish drugs.
She writes: “My birth parents were both addicts. I was only little and didn’t always understand what was happening, but I remember being scared. Drugs were in the house all the time. My brother and I would hide in the cupboards when fights broke out in the house (there were a lot of fights). Police would search the house looking for drugs and we would sometimes find needles hidden in the bread bin. Strange people kept coming to the house to take drugs and it would often end up in chaos. I was terrified.
“I was taken into care as a result of my parents taking drugs. This made me feel even more uncomfortable and more unsafe. I just wanted to go home (if that’s what they called it). I wanted to go. Run. However something inside me told me not to. Soon I found out that my social workers wanted to find a new home for us. As soon as I heard, my heart missed a beat. A new family!
“That moment I felt safer than I had ever been. A feeling of someone who wanted us. A new start. I felt excited, happy and sad all at once - emotions came thundering in, one after the other! My new Mum and Dad!
“They’ve helped me be more confident and not scared. To me living with them now is the safest place on earth. They have brought me up to help me forget my dreadful past - living with drugs.”
Nicole and her parents Andy and Mary are now ambassadors for the charity, which specialises in finding loving homes for vulnerable children considered ‘harder to place’.
Mary said: “We adopted Nicole and her brother, Charlie and would urge anyone thinking about adoption to find out more. There can be challenges along the way but the rewards are enormous. We have the family we always dreamt of and to watch our children flourish and achieve their potential is amazing. They had been through so much in their early lives and just needed a safe loving home.”
The charity is campaigning for people across the county to get in touch as soon as possible if they believe they could help a child through fostering or adoption. They will be holding an information evening at Middle Brook Centre on Wednesday January 27 where people can find out more about the process involved in becoming a foster carer or adopter and learn about the children that need care.
Gunter Becht, adoption manager, said: “Harder to place children could have a disability - even a minor one – they could be older - aged four and above – part of a sibling group or may have ethnic heritage. Sadly, they often wait much longer for adoption, which is why we urgently need to hear from new adopters to make sure they are not forgotten.”
The charity’s adoption and fostering service offers adopters and carers professional support and training, free of charge, as well as therapeutic services to help overcome any challenges.
Catherine Moore, fostering manager said: “We particularly need to hear from people who can foster several children to help us keep siblings together wherever possible. Some only need short-term care - a few months, or even a year... others need permanent homes until they are 18 and beyond.
Catherine added: “Fostering can be challenging but extremely rewarding – many Diagrama carers stay in contact with children well into adulthood.”
To find out more about fostering or adoption call Diagrama on 0208 668 2181 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for an information pack. Alternatively visit diagramachildren.org.uk
As of March 31, 2015, there were 69,540 looked after children in the UK – around 5,000 of those are awaiting adoption. The majority of looked after children (61%) are looked after by the state due to abuse or neglect.
Diagrama strives to provide a life-long commitment to all the children placed into foster or adoptive families through them.
The charity welcomes enquiries from:
For all press enquiries call Julie Firth, Marketing and Communications Manager, on 07872 015132.