Metro.co.uk’s in depth look during Adoption Month may be nearing a close but adoption is a full time and forever journey – and one that Luisa Bradsaw-White does not regret for a moment.
EastEnders fans will know her best as bubbly Tina Carter but Luisa knows herself best as a mum of two wonderful girls who she adores.
Luisa and her wife Annette adopted the girls when they were just three and four-years-old and now they are growing into adults at 17 and 19 years of age.
The actress is deeply passionate about adoption and while she admits that the commitment comes with many challenges, her family story is one of such uplifting positivity and pride.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk, Luisa explained how it all came about.
‘We didn’t really talk about children at all much until I hit 30 and I remember being in Bali. It’s my favourite place in the world, everything is so perfect – but nothing seemed like it mattered because I didn’t have children and it hit me really strongly. And if I want something, I’ll have it! I always get what I want,’ she laughed, although her words were certainly poignant. It was something that she had set her heart on and knew that things wouldn’t feel quite complete without children in the family.
She continued: ‘I wanted children but we kept going down different paths such as a friend fathering a child or “you have one and I have one” – it never felt right. We feared it would end up being “oh you deal with your baby, I’ll deal with mine” and it just never really worked out.
‘We just decided to go along to an adoption meeting and saw the little faces on the wall and my heart broke. We just knew – we just kept going. It all happened quite easily as well so we knew it was meant to be. It just felt right.’
That gut feeling, years on, is still one that Luisa doesn’t look back on with any regret – and when she first laid eyes on the two young girls whose lives she would change – and who would also change hers – she had an instant, emotional and maternal bond with them.
‘We saw so many pictures – and people used to ask what we wanted and we didn’t know. I just know when I see him or her or them.
‘Then I heard about these two little girls. I remember getting the pictures out and I burst into tears and knew that’s my kids. And I recognised them. My oldest daughter – I just knew that I knew her and my youngest one was so cute. It was just amazing.
‘I still know to this day that they are my kids – that sounds controversial even saying that; they are mine and I believe that. In some ways I know I share them but in my soul, we’ve been together lifetimes.’
For many, the adoption process can appear daunting and Luisa won’t deny that you have to really commit – but she was grateful for everything she learned along the way and began to appreciate just how different an approach a parent would need with an adopted child.
She recalled: ‘It was quite smooth – some people do wait years and years. You do have to do a lot – courses and training. I am really grateful for that because they aren’t straight forward children. You have to parent in different ways. You really do need to know so much different information. Everyone thinks “I’ll, love them and that’s enough” but you have to be able to parent as well as shower them with love. It’s hard to talk about it and not give away their stories – I am so fiercely private of their stories. They were 3 and 4 when they came to me, they will always have that family, that’s something I was able to accept or it would have been a baby. I have taken on a huge family, really.
‘It has been a really positive journey. My girls have had ups and downs in their lives because of their early years and also it’s hard being a teenager these days anyway. They’re just the most wonderful little people. We have a really tight family – maybe because we’re all girls, we are really, really close. It’s been incredible and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. The journey has been amazing.’
It’s clear that Luisa and her family are the epitome of an adoption success story and hearing her speak with such adoration and enthusiasm was both emotional and joyous.
And she had no qualms about encouraging other families considering adoption.
She enthused: ‘It’s life changing – when you have a child, it’s your child and your genes and when you adopt, you take on a whole other family. My advice would be that you need to know what you are taking on and are well equipped to deal with the challenges. The more training that you can access – when I was having the training I thought you don’t have to train me to be a mum but then I really got it – you have to really know your kids and kids in adoption can have life traumas.
‘I would so highly recommend it. IVF is very successful now but there are so many kids who need a home, sitting and waiting and that breaks my heart. I couldn’t love my children any more than I do and they couldn’t love me more than they do. I love them as if I grew them myself.
‘The minute you are given children and they have to survive because of you, they become your own very, very quickly. I really am so proud of them.’
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Adoption Month is a month-long series covering all aspects of adoption.
For the next four weeks, which includes National Adoption Week from October 14-19, we will be speaking to people who have been affected by adoption in some way, from those who chose to welcome someone else’s child into their family to others who were that child.
We’ll also be talking to experts in the field and answering as many questions as possible associated with adoption, as well as offering invaluable advice along the way.
If you have a story to tell or want to share any of your own advice please do get in touch at [email protected]
- Why we’re talking about adoption this month
- How to adopt a child – from how long it takes to how you can prepare
- The most Googled questions on adoption, answered
- How long does it take to adopt a child in the UK
- Adoption myths that could be stopping you from starting a family
- How to tell your child they are adopted
Visit our Adoption Month page for more.
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