Ba­bies of the heart

Sin­gle peo­ple with a heart for adop­tion are of­ten fear­ful of go­ing it alone. Not this Cape Town mom, writes Karen Read

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -

“I NEVER DOUBTED I could do this. I know so many amaz­ing sin­gle moms. I thought, ‘If they can do it, so can I.’ I also re­ally be­lieve that this is what God wanted me to do. I knew He would pro­vide the strength in me and the sup­port I needed. And He has.”

Cat Bar­rett, a 40-some­thing sin­gle mother of two adopted chil­dren un­der the age of four, thinks back to when she first started think­ing about adopt­ing.

She re­calls how she’s al­ways known, as early as her 20s, that if she ever were to have chil­dren, it would be through adop­tion.

“In my late 30s, the de­sire to adopt grew,” she says. “I knew that if I didn’t do it, I’d al­ways re­gret it. I prayed about it for a very long time un­til I felt it was the right time to start the process.”

At the time, Cat went to a con­fer­ence where a so­cial worker from emo­tional well­ness com­pany Pro­care spoke about sin­gle women con­sid­er­ing adop­tion.

“She ex­plained the process, and I liked her straight­for­ward man­ner,” she says. And so she set the process in mo­tion, with the help of Pro­care, which of­fers adop­tions as a ser­vice.

She had some con­di­tions. She was clear in her mind that she pre­ferred a girl. “And I said ‘no’ to al­co­hol and drug use by the mother. I’d been spend­ing time with chil­dren with fe­tal al­co­hol syn­drome [FASD] and knew I didn’t have the pa­tience to cope with that on a daily ba­sis. It wouldn’t be fair on the child with FASD.”

Af­ter her first con­sul­ta­tion with Pro­care, Cat was told to go home and think about it. “I said: ‘No, I’ve al­ready thought about it, and I’m ready to pro­ceed.’” That was in Novem­ber 2014. Five months later, her baby came home.

Lit­tle Azaria (4), so named by her birth mother, was 10 weeks old at the time of her place­ment.

“I had been think­ing of names, but when I dis­cov­ered that Azaria means ‘helped by God’, I just couldn’t change her name. It’s beau­ti­ful,” she ex­plains.

Cat says she had been well pre­pared for her first meet­ing with Azaria. “My so­cial worker ex­plained to me that, like any mother, I would need to get to know my baby, and the love would fol­low. I’d also spo­ken to moth­ers who ad­mit­ted tak­ing a while to bond with their bi­o­log­i­cal ba­bies, so I wasn’t ex­pect­ing a Hol­ly­wood-movie re­ac­tion,” she says.

She had been look­ing at pho­tos of Azaria for days, so she felt fa­mil­iar when she first held her.

“The first night I woke up a mil­lion times to check on her. The next day I re­mem­ber look­ing at her, know­ing I would do any­thing to pro­tect her. The love for her was so strong, it sur­prised me; I wasn’t ex­pect­ing it so soon.”

Cat says it’s al­ways been her in­ten­tion to adopt twice.

“I have a brother and a sis­ter, and they’re the most won­der­ful peo­ple in my life. I also know that trans-racial adop­tion kids will go through things I could never un­der­stand. So I wanted them to have each other.”

When Azaria was two, four-month- old Skyler, now two years old, came home. Cat says Pro­care was great at help­ing pre­pare Azaria for the ar­rival of her baby sis­ter.

“I fol­lowed ad­vice and had pho­tos of Skyler around the house at Azaria’s height. Azaria could say Skyler’s name, and we had a count­down for her ar­rival.

“Skyler is a real charmer. She smiles at every­one in the shops, loves to dance and talks non-stop. She has adored her sis­ter since the first day they met and squeezes her to show her love. Every­one who knows Skyler knows she gives the best hugs.”

Skyler was also named by her birth mother. “It means scholar and eternity,” Cat says. “I like that I can tell my girls that their beau­ti­ful names were lov­ingly cho­sen by their birth moth­ers.”

On sin­gle par­ent­ing, Cat says en­sure you have a good sup­port sys­tem – and ex­pect the first few years to be tough.

“There have been times when both the girls were sick back to back. I was up sev­eral times a night for two weeks straight and then still had to go to work. But th­ese things pass quickly. The girls are big­ger now, and it’s get­ting eas­ier.

“My favourite thing is to lis­ten to them play­ing to­gether. The sound of them chas­ing each other and then laugh­ing so hard that Skyler falls over is the best,” she adds.

If you’re think­ing about adop­tion, go for it, Cat says.

“Some­one once asked me how my life has changed since I had chil­dren. I said I laugh more now!”

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