Stephen Oliver is a marketing manager for a distribution firm.
What was your dream?
'Dream' is a very strong word. It's huge. It's little girls who think about their wedding dress in detail or an actor dreaming about Hollywood and having an Olympic-size pool. It’s detailed and big. I'm not sure about the word 'dream' but I have big desires in life. One of my biggest is to have a family
When did that dream first form in your head?
It’s always been there.
What practical steps did you take to realise your dream?
Well my wife and I tried the 'conventional' method but we just didn't get pregnant so we went down the IVF route, six rounds in fact and that took years and it’s horrendous. It’s very expensive too. We got a couple on the NHS (which is available depending where you live) and then you have to do it privately.
The first time round you stimulate then harvest the eggs. After they're fertilized, they implant them. Then the ones left over are frozen and used in the next procedure so the second time is a frozen cycle. It doesn't take as long because you don’t have to go through the stimulating eggs bit and the drugs. When or if it fails you start again and it’s every six months pretty much.
But it didn't work so we started looking at adoption. At first, we thought, we are never going to adopt, ever. You think, I'm not going to do it, I want my own kid, I want them to look like me but when all the other options are off the table then it becomes quite an interesting prospect. It’s such an honour to adopt a kid, to help a child who's already here, help them through what they've already been through and try and make them into what ever they can be - its a privilege.
We’re part of the way down the route and are going through training at the moment which is 6 hour days of talking about what brings kids into adoption, what brings the adoptive parent to it but also the birth parents and we look at the things we're likely to encounter. For example we learn about sensitivity and psychology. Like if a kid is naughty and you say, 'go to your room', that’s gonna have a completely different impact on a kid who’s been locked in a bedroom for two years.
Once you get through the training, you hav a lot of visits from social workers.Then we went to a panel with the agency we’re working with and they see if we’re ready to go forward to the main panel which is social workers, people from local child support groups, people who've adopted before, a whole big panel of people and we have to stand in front of them and present paperwork and say how 'great we are' and how suitable we are. If we get through that, we get accepted as adopters and that's when you get given the catalogue of babies. There’s thousands of babies and not that many adopters. It is, what we heard the other day, a buyers market. It’s heartbreaking. It’s like you get an Argos catalogue of unwanted children.
As it gets close it’s getting more real. The dream is becoming a reality. We've come so close so many times, like Megan's been pregnant a couple of times with twins and we've watched them disappear off the radar literally so you kind of stop yourself thinking that it's ever going to happen. But now we’re opening up the door again and I feel it in my body, it’s going to completely and utterly change my life. I'm shitting myself.
What advice would you give people looking to follow their dream?
You have to get on with it. I wouldn't put it in those terms because that’s meaningless but I would encourage them to be honest about what they want and what they're waiting for. Like, what are you waiting for to get on with your dream and then and how is that going to happen and how quickly do you think you’ll be able to get there. Also, if you look back in two years and you haven’t done it are you going to wait another two years?
Where would life be if you hadn't moved towards realising your dream?
I lead a busy life; I'm doing a lot of great stuff all the time, very happy but once you have a kid a whole new horizon, a whole new life is out there. There’s a lot of new stuff. I’ll meet new people, talk about different things, like which are the good schools in an area. Before, I couldn't give a shit which the good schools were! I really couldn't and child benefits, who give a shit about child benefits? Now, I'm saying, they’re taking away child benefits, how disgraceful! (laughs)
The prospect of a family bringing in an aliveness and a vitality and a whole new vista... I never had before.