“Now what?!!” I have a 10 day old baby girl in my hands and I – am – not – ready – for – this! Those were the thoughts going through my mind when Baby Nora joined the family in September last year. My wife and I moved to Singapore 4 years ago when she was offered a role out here. We thought we’d be here for 2 years and then head back to London. I was in the process of selling my pub in King’s Cross and was looking for a change of scene so Singapore sounded perfect. We ended up liking life here so stayed.
Last year, we decided to look into adoption after reading about the number of kids in various places around Asia looking for homes. I have to admit though, having seen the problems that a friend in London went through trying to adopt a child there and the time it took them, I wasn’t confident that we would see it through. I guess my wife saw this as she did all the research and the hard work finding out about it.
The process started in April 2016 with a talk given by an adoption agency to about 50 interested couples about some of the things to expect when adopting, especially, the importance of disclosure to the child and the timing. They stress how important this aspect is and how it needs to be done early in a child’s life to avoid complication later on. They follow up the talk by asking the audience various questions such as “when is it a good time to disclose to your child that they are adopted?’ Depressingly, there were a few potential fathers who still answered ‘never’ to the question, obviously feeling uncomfortable and ashamed of the adoption process.
We registered with the government agency so that we could go ahead with the process only to be told that UK passport holders can’t adopt in Singapore as there is a disagreement between the two countries and adoption by British couples has been suspended here. After the initial excitement, this was a real downer but we had to find a way around this. We did. Although I’d never used it, I had dual nationality. My parents were Italian and had registered me when I was born. I made the appointment at the embassy here and after a quick check that I was a citizen, was given an Italian passport. We then re-applied and were told that it was possible now to adopt in Singapore. The background checks, interviews with the government agencies and visits to our home were all done over a few months and then in July we were told that we had been approved and could look for a child. Amazing, so fast.
One thing about Singapore is that they get things done quick, the government agencies are well funded, not overloaded with work and the people are skilled, intelligent and really helpful.
We then applied to a licensed agent and the thing is, I didn’t think we’d get the call that fast!! The agency we’d registered with said there was a 1-week-old Malaysian girl who needs a home and we’d meet her the next day. We met her the next day, she melted me on the spot. We said ‘yes’…obviously!!We were told that we could do a medical the following day and then she could come home with us the day after!!!! We had to get all the gear, read some books, organise time off with work and most of all, get our heads round the fact that we’ve gone from zero to parents in 60 seconds!! No 9-month pregnancy to get prepared. We applied, thought it’d take years and then had a baby within what seemed like a few weeks.
Must say though, Nora brought out the best in us and we stepped up to the plate. Our first challenge was to keep the baby alive for the first night! We did it and despite the panic and lack of faith in ourselves as parents, the kid slept well, had her milk, pooped on time and seemed just fine the next day. We repeated the process.
Having a child that is obviously not the same race as you does raise a few eyebrows here in what is a fairly conservative country. People see that we are Caucasian and Nora is Asian and we do get a few looks that seem to resent us adopting ‘one of their own’ but then you get a positive vibe too and there are a lot of abandoned babies out there so most people respect us for giving one a home.
Nora will always know she’s adopted because we look different so I can’t imagine any complications from that point of view. Although she was given to an orphanage, we have the details of the mother so she will always be able to trace her biological parents whenever she wants to. Having spoken to a few people that were adopted themselves, they’ve all said that in their own personal lives, they weren’t that bothered about meeting their biological parents as the they considered the people who brought them up as their parents and the fact that they were adopted didn’t come into it…..although 2 of them did say that if their biological parents were very rich they’d probably tap ‘em up for a few quid!
The kid’s coming up on a year old now and I know I’m biased, but she’s a cracker. Happy kid who loves food! The adoption process and the first year of my daughter’s life has been fulfilling, fun and much easier than I thought. I guess the kid will give me grief and worry at some point in the future but so far it has been a beautiful journey and despite the initial panic, there wasn’t anything to fear and a lot to look forward to.
Written by David Morazzi