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
“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!”