Adoptmom – What I do

Posted by Terri Lailvaux on February 15, 2011
Category : Adoption

Book now for the next adoption discussion group

Posted by Terri Lailvaux on February 15, 2011
Category : Adoption
Hi all,
I am getting LOTS of requests for workshops / adoption discussion groups.  Here are the details:
The next 2 dates are:
Sat 05 March 2011 and Sat 02 April 2011 (You may book either one or both!)
09h30 – 12h30
R 250 per person
This 3 hour workshop includes:
  • Tea / coffee / juice / muffins
  • Detailed info pack
  • Input from a group of pre and post adoptive parents
  • Talk by a guest speaker – usually a social worker
To book, please email with the date you want to book and I will forward you a confirmation with the bank details for pre payment.
Hope to see you there!  It’s always a great experience.

Assumptions- Fertility Treatment

Posted by Terri Lailvaux on February 11, 2011
Category : Adoption

There are certain things in life that we assume.  As women, I think the main assumption is that we will one day give birth.  You grow up with a subconscious knowledge that women continue the cycle of life.  Without women giving birth, no more human race.
We take it for granted.  Nowadays, we wait longer to start our families.  There are many reasons for this.  We want to get our careers on track, we want to be financially stable, we want to travel and we want to enjoy some adult time with our partner and our friends.  In addition to this, we lead pretty stressed lives. We are on the move, we tend to eat badly and many of us struggle to find the time to exercise.  The combination of all these factors does not bode well for pregnancy!

Fertility clinics are bursting at the seams with local and foreign hopefuls all flocking to get help with falling pregnant.  These people spend an enormous amount of money and emotional energy and often end up disappointed.  It is an extremely stressful time and I think many people are unaware how much stress they are under.  Sometimes marriages don’t make it through fertility treatments and sometimes friendships are put under pressure.
I remember when I was busy with my IVF cycles, it felt like everytime I went to book club or to visit friends, someone would announce a pregnancy.  I felt actual hatred for my really close friends…..and then guilt for feeling that hatred.

My point is that women (and men) who are infertile have to process feelings of loss, grief, anger, guilt, depression, inadequacy, stress and more.  This need to be counselled through these feelings is often overlooked due to time and money constraints.

Me with my 2 week old baby in ICU

The process of fertility treatment and then maybe adoption is followed but once it’s all over, and a few years have passed, how many of those unresolved feelings come back to haunt us.  Are we able to be good parents, good partners, good sisters, good friends when we have all this unresolved stuff in our heads and hearts?
There are support groups and couselllors who specialise in this and I would urge people to make use of this.  Contact me if you need a list of people in your area.

I love my work!  It gives me such a thrill to meet people who are in any way associated with adoption.  It is such a happy topic and there is always so much love involved!!  I am inspired to get going with my next book now!  My first book is geared at 2 – 6 year olds but now that my angel is 6, I need to move to the next level.  My son, chose last night to ask me some pretty serious questions about his adoption and I realised it was time for a book aimed at Tweenies!  (9 – 13 Years)  Strangely, this morning, I met a 12 year old girl who is adopted and is going to chat to me later this week so I guess it’s official….I am currently researching my new book!  Yippee.  I have a spring in my step.  I am also busy with my studies now……Diploma in counselling.  I want branch out a bit into “the other side”….pregnant teenagers!  So, if any of you know a tweenie who want to be invloved in my research (adopted or not), please let me know.  I will hold a free Tweenie workshop in the next few weeks so watch this space.
My next parent workshop (for pre and post adoptive parents) is on Sat 5 Feb from 09h30 to 12h30.  Please book in advance as space is limited.

My baby is 6 years old!!

Posted by Terri Lailvaux on January 23, 2011
Category : Adoption

And so now my tiny prem baby is 6 years old!  He’s just started school and he is an absolute joy.  I have met an amazing amount of people over the years who have adopted, want to adopt, know someone who has adopted, was adopted.  It’s a funny thing that people don’t really talk about unless the other person also has some involvement or a personal story to share.  Once you are in the loop, people seem to be involved an adoption around every corner.  There is so much joy in it but also a lot of fear, misunderstanding, misconception and hesitation.  The law in South Africa is tight – very!  Everyone is well- protected in the process and the process (by comparison to other countries) is fast and efficient.

I know lots and lots of people who have spent years undergoing fertility treatment and years being pregnant but miscarrying.  Once they start the adoption process, it is often 4 – 9 months until they collect their new addition.  Our adoption agencies and social workers are so good at what they do.  They really care about placing the right babies with the right families.  I recently met a Norwegian couple who put their names down to adopt a Xhosa baby from South Africa.  The entire process took 2 years and I met them when they arrived in SA to collect their son (who had a twin sister so they went home with 2 babies!!!!).  I think that 2 years for an entire international adoption is a really short time.  I have heard of couples overseas wating for foreign babies who have waitied 5 – 7 years!  That is hectic.  If anyone out there has a story that they would like me to post on the blog, please email it to me at and let me know if you would like it to  be anonnymous or named. I would so much love to hear from you!

I wrote a book for kids about adoption

Posted by Terri Lailvaux on January 16, 2011
Category : Adoption
Sometime during all this, I started thinking about what to tell him when he’s older; how much information to give him & when to give him the information. I started writing down little bits and pieces. I remember the social worker giving me this piece of advice. “Every time you do something he loves, like a bath or a walk in the pram or a tickle on the bed, use the word – adoption. Eg…who’s a beautiful adopted baby?” She said that he would eventually come to associate that word with happy times. One day when he asks what it means and we tell him, he will already feel comfortable that it is a good thing.
It hasn’t really happened like that though because we have ended up knowing so many people with adopted kids. The word comes up all the time and all the kids in the group are quite comfortable with it. Still, I had been writing some ideas down and had a thought to make it into a book  for kids about adoption. It was to be something that Alex & his friends could read that would explain why and how adoption happens. I wanted all the kids in his circle (adopted and biological) to be able to read in a fun, easy way about adoption. I finished writing the text and then struggled for almost a year to find someone to do the illustrations. (The long struggle was due to financial constraints.) Eventually, the book was illustrated, printed and for sale!  It is called The Greatest Gift.  It is aimed at kids aged 2 – 6 years.   You can see more about the book on my website:


Name changes and adoption paper work

Posted by Terri Lailvaux on January 13, 2011
Category : Adoption
When babies are born, their biological mother has to name them and have a birth certificate issued. After the 60 days were up, we waited for the court to process the adoption paperwork. Although the court papers took around 6 months to process, Alex was officially considered to be ours. In April 2005, we received paperwork from the Department of Social welfare stating that “According to the provisions of the Child Care Act 1983, your adopted child is now regarded as if born to you. Therefore you personally have to register the child under his or her new name and surname at the Department of Home Affairs nearest top you.”We took the adoption paperwork to the Department of Home Affairs and applied for a name change and a new birth certificate. It is a very standard procedure involving long queues, inefficient staff, incorrect information and general mayhem. Eventually, I managed to submit the right adoption paperwork with the right money! Around 8 weeks later, we received a brand new birth certificate from Home Affairs with Alex’s new name! The process was finally over! I applied for a passport for Alex and booked flight tickets to the UK. In July 2006, I took him to meet his great granddad (my grandfather – who lived to be 2 weeks short of 101!!) my sister and brother-in-law and all the cousins and friends that we have over there. Alex stole the show and crept into everyone’s hearts.

Once we came home from the hospital, it all started to sink in. People would phone and say “how is your son doing?” or “is your son keeping you up at night?” or “how are you coping with parenthood?” Each time someone asked those questions, it felt so amazingly good. I thought I would burst with pride. It’s really hard to explain the feelings of euphoria that go with being a new parent!
Our little one was very well-routined after a month in hospital and fed every 4 hours and slept the rest of the time. It was all amazingly easy! (The hard part was only to come months later when the teething began!)
The only darkness in this otherwise delightful time was knowing that the biological parents had 60 days in which to change their minds. Although the thought did not consume us, I have to admit that it crossed our minds a few times. Those times were really, really challenging. The thought of losing him after all the years of waiting and the month of terror in the hospital was just too much to swallow! Eventually, I called the social worker to talk about my fears. She said she would chat to their social worker and see if she could get any info. She called back a while later and said “the biological family would like to meet with the 3 of you”.
I immediately assumed the worst. I burst into tears and asked her if they wanted him back. She assured me that was not what the meeting was about. They had only ever seen him as a very sick, delicate little thing full of tubes and machines. They had only ever seen us in a state of shock and very tearful. They wanted to see us in a normal, happy environment so that they could get a picture of how his future would be. I didn’t believe her. I was convinced they wanted to take my child away. I was stuck. The social worker agreed to go along with us to “mediate” and help control what could become a very emotional gathering. We all arrived at a coffee shop and sat down. You could cut the tension in the air with a knife. We made polite conversation and all stayed on edge. I guess, they were trying their best to come to terms with giving up a child and we were trying to come to terms with taking a child from people who were clearly good, loving, warm people.
It was not pleasant for me and I know it was hard for them. Alex slept through most of it though! I eventually blurted out my fears and they were horrified! They assured us that they were 100% happy with their decision. They were certain we were the right parents to raise this baby and they had absolutely no intention of changing their minds. I felt better. I did not feel 100% safe but I felt better.

We left, promising to keep in touch with updates on Alex’s progress. I counted the days down……….60 days was up on 24 Dec. They did not change their minds. On Christmas Day 2004, Alex officially became ours. Need I say more about Christmas gifts? That one can never, ever be topped!


Adoption- We meet our son

Posted by Terri Lailvaux on January 06, 2011
Category : Adoption

It’s so hard to explain the next two hours. It was certainly the most emotional day ever. We hugged, we cried, we spoke, we hugged again. We clicked. We really liked them. After an hour or so, the ICU sister told us we could come in and meet him. As we approached the door to the ICU, the alarm on the incubator went off and we were hurried back to our meeting room. That was the worst 5 minutes of my life!!! I really though he might die before we’d even met him. I loved him so much and I couldn’t bear to lose him now. It turned out that he had pulled the ventilator tube out and they just reinserted it. We were finally allowed in to see the tiniest, scariest, most beautiful little person. We were petrified of him! He looked like he could break in half………all ribs & tubes & machines. We stayed late that night, just looking at him…….in silence. The ICU staff answered our few questions but mostly we just sat.

What followed was a month of highs and lows in the ICU. He had great days and awful days. Prem babies take 2 steps forward, 3 steps back, 2 steps forward, 1 step back. Every hour, every gram put on or lost, every 10 ml of milk consumed, it is all counted and at all determines how the baby is doing.
After exactly 1 month in ICU, we were allowed to bring our 1.9kg baby home with us.
His name is Alex.

The phone call we’d been waiting for

Posted by Terri Lailvaux on January 04, 2011
Category : Adoption
At 4pm, the secretary at work said my husband was on the phone and it was urgent. (Our house had been burgled while we were away and I thought perhaps it had happened again). I grabbed the phone and our conversation went like this:
Steve: “The agency called. Our son has been born”
Terri: “But we ordered a girl!”
Steve: “er yes er and he’s white”
Terri: “But we ordered a coloured baby”
Steve: “er yes er and he’s very premature and sick so we don’t have to take him”
Terri: “What? Of course we’re taking him!! When? Where? How? He’s mine!!”
It was the most bizarre conversation ever! He told me that the social worker had explained to him that the biological mum had chosen us from our profile. She’d wanted an open adoption and had requested to meet us well in advance so that we could get to know each other and so that we could be in the delivery room with her in December. Unfortunately, she became very ill and the baby boy had to be delivered 2 months early by emergency C Section.
We arrived at the hospital 2 hours later and were met in the reception by both social workers. They explained that the baby was in ICU and very weak. He weighed 1.4kg, he was on a ventilator and the doctor had picked up a few problems. It was really too early to say what the outcome would be.    We could still change our minds. Did we have a good medical aid as this was a private hospital? Did we want to proceed? Yes!! Yes!! Yes!!

We called our broker and got her working on the medical aid and off we went upstairs to meet the maternal biological family.   

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