Unconditional love – Woodford Green dad tells of experience of adopting with Barnardo’s

PUBLISHED: 15:00 17 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:05 17 September 2018

Saqib Khan shares the story of adopting his daughter through Barnardo's. Photo: Barnardo's

Saqib Khan shares the story of adopting his daughter through Barnardo's. Photo: Barnardo's


“We had a gap in our family and she has perfectly filled it.”

This is how Woodford Green dad Saqib Khan, 44, describes the way he feels since adopting his daughter from children’s charity Barnardo’s in 2013.

He and his wife Mehvish, 42, made the decision to adopt in 2011, after their son, now nine, had been born with the assistance of IVF.

The Recorder spoke to Saqib to better understand their 23-month journey through adoption process and raising their adopted daughter, now eight.

The couple made their initial call to Barnardo’s in September 2011 after which undertook training and were allocated a social worker, in June 2012, to assess their suitability to adopt.

In March 2013 they received the green light.

“The system has been speeded up since then but in my opinion we really needed that time to reflect and think about everything,” said Saqib.

“Adopting wasn’t sold to us through rose-tinted glasses and that was a good thing.”

Once approved, the couple were able to review detailed profiles of children in need of families, including photographs and their medical history.

“With adoption, you have complete knowledge and control when selecting a child – it is an informed decision,” he said.

Saqib spoke of how it was important to find a child with “an element of Islam” to avoid the child feeling different from the couple’s own Pakistani Muslim heritage.

They also wanted a child close in age to their son so that they could better share experiences together.

“When we were first shown our daughter’s profile we both felt an immediate pull,” he said.

“Her picture, her personality – she was adventurous, gregarious and lively.”

But, as Saqib discovered, developing a bond with his daughter was not without its challenges.

He recounted how it was eight months before she would, for instance, cuddle with him on the sofa.

Even recently, when the family moved home, his daughter asked him if she would be coming with them.

“It took months rather than weeks but I knew it would take time,” he said.

“Looking back now I can see she was petrified.

“Accepting everything isn’t always great and rosy, especially initially, helped us to deal with things.”

However, with perserverance and patience, Saqib said the couple realised after around 14 months that they have the same unconditional love for her that they have for their biological son.

The couple have been open with their daughter about the adoption from the outset, retelling the story at regular periods throughout her life and amending it for age-appropriateness.

“It can’t be allowed to become something shameful or a taboo subject,” he said.

“We are not insecure and don’t feel threatened and when she is older we hope that she and her mother can have an adult relationship.”

The many milestones in Saqib’s relationship with his daughter include receiving her passport, taking her on her first holiday and teaching her how to ride a bike.

He said: “We do make a big thing of celebrating successes and she has a scrapbook of life’s trips and highlights.”

Barnardo’s has launched an adoption campaign as more than 1,080 children across the UK are in need of families.

Commenting on the support he has received from the charity, Saqib said: “We had a fantastic social worker.

“To us, Barnardo’s feels like family and we’ll be forever grateful to them for how they helped us to complete ours.”

In particular, the charity is calling for adopters who can welcome older children, siblings, those from different ethnic minorities and disabled children into their lives.

Adopters have access to counselling and therapy to help them bond with their child through the charity.

Barnardo’s chief executive, Javed Khan said: “Sadly, some children have a very difficult start in life and don’t have many positive memories, but you can change that and help them to build a better future.

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