Babies of the Heart A couple shares their journey with adoption
IN SPITE OF THEIR INNATE LOVE OF CHILDREN, THE ADOPTION PROCESS WASN’T AN EASY ROAD FOR EITHER OF THE BELEYS
HAVING TRIED FOR a couple of years to conceive, the Beleys reckoned it a blessing in disguise that they weren’t able to have children the biological way since Joanne hadn’t particularly yearned to be pregnant. “It [not being able to carry] brought adoption into sharp focus,” she says.
But in spite of their innate love of children, the adoption process wasn’t an easy road for either of them. Their process began in 2009.
“Due to certain disclosures in the questionnaire [that prospective adoptive parents are required to answer], we were asked to see a psychologist for a number of sessions. After doing so and having been found fit to adopt, we were matched with a child. But when we got to the court to sign the papers, we couldn’t go through with it,” says Mickey.
Although neither had any resistance to adopting, nor any doubt that it was what they wanted, fear of the enormity of parenting got the better of them. Joanne says the disappointment of having opted out at that stage felt like they had lost a child at birth, and for at least two years after that they weren’t able to discuss the topic of children. “Then one morning in 2014 as we finished praying we both heard God say in a clear voice in our hearts that it was time to adopt,” says Joanne. Soon after that they went to see their social worker at Procare and at their first meeting they were presented with photos of two babies. “That was when we saw our boy for the first time,” says Mickey, referring proudly to Joshua.
Joshua was five-and-a-half months old when he went home. He’s now threeand-a-half years old and clearly thriving. He’s energetic, inquisitive, talkative and quite obviously mad about his dad. A special connection with his mommy is also evident and he’s both protective of and affectionate to little Daniel.
“Josh is big-hearted,” says Mickey. “He’s also adventurous, loving and very kind.”
Daniel, who was three-and-a-half months when he went home, is now nine months old and – in a word – delicious! I struggle to keep my hands off him, and his doting folks indulge me. Joanne describes Daniel as “sociable, determined and full of laughs” and I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t all the result of nurture, because these attributes seem to perfectly describe her and Mickey.
The Beleys have kept both of their children’s birth names as their middle names because they like the names and what they mean, but also because they hope that this will give their boys a sense of being connected with their beginnings. Mickey says they feel “tender-hearted” towards their boys’ birth mother for what she has been through and that they have immense respect for her for making the difficult decision to put up both her sons for adoption.
“We have had people tell us we’re a blessing but we always explain that we are blessed and our boys are the blessing. It’s a privilege to raise these two gifts from God. It’s tough because boys empty you physically and emotionally, but then they fill you with joy in a way that nothing else can!”
Parenting and adopting have transformed the Beleys’ lives in such a beautiful way that I am told they have inspired others to adopt – not only people in their circle of friends but in one case, a couple they met in a hospital waiting room.
“We’re just happy to share our story, and we’re curious to hear other people’s stories,” says Mickey. This is what prompted them to start an informal group for parents of adopted children. “We want to learn from people who are ahead of us in the journey of adopting, and we would also like to be a source of encouragement to others who are walking the same journey as us.” The group gathers once a month, usually to meet with and listen to an invited guest who may be a parent of both adopted and biological children; a transracial adoptee; or a single parent of adopted children.
The Beleys say that if you are considering adopting, their best advice to you is to: • Try to be as well-informed as possible so that you understand the process and are prepared for all possibilities; • Gather support from family and friends before you start the process; and • Meet and spend time with adoptive families so that you can experience how your life might change. YB
Mickey and Joanne Beley are big-hearted people: big on loving people and big on serving those in need in Cape Town. Karen Read learnt that they’re big on adoption too, which is how they came to be the parents of Joshua (3) and Daniel (9 months)